Working Remotely During a Pandemic Micheal Goodwin March 12, 2020

Working Remotely During a Pandemic


With Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) officially named a Pandemic, many countries and local governments are taking precautions to slow the spread of the virus by ordering school, government, and local business closures. While the measures are intended to minimize exposure to citizens, it can have the difficult side-effect of creating hardships for employees and businesses in low risk and non-impacted areas. After sending many otherwise healthy employees home to work, employers are scrambling to increase remote work capabilities. As noted in #4 of the Harvard Business Review cautionary article, 8 Questions Employers Should Ask About Coronavirus, “Have we maximized employees’ ability to work remotely?”. The answer for many businesses is “NO”.

The challenge for most in the work remote model is the location of the businesses’ data. For many, servers, applications, and data are stored locally within the office. A move to a remote cloud-based system may be untimely, problematic, or not desired for data requirements or business process reasons. For others, moving local server and application resources into a secure cloud environment with virtual desktop access is just the ticket to providing robust remote worker capabilities and the elimination of local server costs. The right approach varies by organization and requires a careful evaluation of software requirements and business practices.

Regardless of the deployment requirements, the common thread through the best remote work solutions is the virtual desktop. Whether data is hosted in a secure cloud, like Microsoft Azure or AWS, or it resides on servers within a local office, the most effective way to duplicate the office computer desktop experience is by deploying a virtual desktop infrastructure, or “VDI”. VDI comes in many flavors but the two most popular are Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services. Both technologies can be deployed inside a physical office environment or by utilizing private cloud hosting for rapid deployment.

In a virtual desktop environment, you are using a server to deliver virtual desktops to your users.  The virtual desktop is typically a Windows virtual desktop so it looks and behaves just as your local Windows desktop performs.  For best performance, it is ideal for the virtual desktop server to reside on the same network as company data and applications.  This allows applications to be installed on the remote desktop server and it has fast local access to network file shares and applications.

Evaluating the setup and business criteria for a virtual desktop environment is a complex undertaking. Several factors must be considered during the evaluation and planning stage. The factors include:

  • Location of data and applications
  • Remote desktop requirements – Work from home vs. work from home + Disaster Recovery
  • Suitability for applications to run on virtual desktops
  • Business Continuity requirements
  • Up-front cost vs. recurring expenses

Despite a long list of deployment startup variables, a methodical rundown with experienced planning and deployment can take a remote desktop environment from non-existent to fully deployed in a matter of days.

Employers seeking to deliver remote work capabilities to protect their businesses and employees have an excellent option in Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.

For assistance with planning and deployment of VDI contact the business IT experts at Server@Work.