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5 business advantages of cloud-enabled working practices
Key benefits for all businesses which flow from the trend for cloud-enabled home and virtual office working
Some powerful driving factors
The growth of home-based working and virtual offices has been advanced by some powerful driving factors:
Consultancy and self-employment/LLP/LC
Experienced practitioners often outgrow conventional full time employment. The trend for highly skilled people taking the consultancy route in their careers increased significantly as a result of the Great Recession. When companies are trimming headcount then entrepreneurially minded people often seize the opportunity to market their skills directly on their own terms to anyone that needs to plug in specific capabilities or high level skills.
No bricks companies
The trend for virtual companies without a geographical centre has been enabled by high speed internet, the proliferation of cloud-based business services and the desire for more physically and financially efficient ways of structuring a business. Home working avoids routine travel costs, makes more time available to be more productive and eliminates the significant costs associated with permanent, geographically defined places of business.
Work - Life balance
Mid-market and enterprise executive positions as well as smaller entrepreneurial businesses are likely to demand more of owners and key stakeholders as well as workers at all levels. As a result, 50+hour weeks are not uncommon. Whether for established businesses trying to execute retention strategies or for individuals seeking to break free of the chains of conventional full time employment, the desire to achieve a better Life - Work balance is a significant factor in providing flexibility as to when and where work is actually carried out.
Disruptive and of benefit to all
These facets driving the trend for home and virtual office working are quite disruptive to established businesses. In terms of choice and price, they have increased competition; created some complexity for management; and increased fixed costs, such as salaries for key workers that businesses wish to retain.
However, on the upside, some excellent benefits cascade out of the trend for home and virtual office working. In this guide, we discuss five advantages which all businesses are able to exploit.
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1. Geographic flexibility
The ability to work from anywhere on a suitable internet connected device. Stuck at A&E for six hours with a poorly child? Simple, use an iPad mini with a folio keyboard and connect to business cloud services over 4G by using your smartphone as a personal Wi-Fi hotspot
Transport services disrupted due to industrial action or “the wrong type” of rain or snow? Login to the firms hosted desktop system from home. It has never been easier to put time that used to be ‘dead and buried’ to better use.
2. Real-time in office experience
Today’s remote workers connecting using VPN technology over broadband or ADSL lines to on-premise office IT systems are likely to encounter two problems which make working remotely frustratingly slow or even impossible in some applications.
Firstly, consumer broadband connections have a contention ratio of 50:1 - that means they may be shared. Clearly trying to work remotely over a connection that is shared with up to 49 other broadband users is likely to cause network speed issues.
Secondly, performance is limited by the IPSEC VPN (Virtual Private Network) protocols. Essentially the data being transmitted between the servers located in the office and the remote device has to rapidly undergo encryption and decryption and consumer broadband routers are budget devices with poor capabilities in this respect.
Users will typically report that the system is slow, and unresponsive. The slowness can often result in data corruption as client applications have difficulty talking with the servers.
A hosted desktop solution removes these issues. Both applications and data remain on the server, and the desktop view is redirected to the end users device. The amount of bandwidth required is relatively small and the transmission is encrypted by the server. There is no risk of data corruption and typically users can experience a fast experience even with a slow connection.
3. Instant DR
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity (DR & BC) using systems maintained on-premise is often patchy and unreliable at best. When it comes to DR and BC, why do businesses tolerate uncertainty?
Private cloud and hosted desktop solutions are able to eliminate IT infrastructure from the place of business and put it in the data centre. This single act facilitates the capability for almost instant recovery from a disaster situation. Business data is replicated to a secondary data centre which enables instant continuation of business services should the primary data centre go offline.
Few would argue with the assertion that happier employees are more productive and have the potential for better retention. Ensuring the work - life balance works for both the firm and employees is likely to be a critical element in making the workplace happier.
All C-level executives would like to think they can trust employees. Certainly, people whose remuneration packages are indexed to performance, such as sales, are likely to be self-starters that just get on with the job. However, not every remote worker is likely to be paid on results and not everyone is a self-starter.
And just how productive should an employee be? Monitoring the activity of remote workers enables companies to measure and analyse productivity. This typically takes the form of a high-level overview such as login and log out time, active time etc, although some employers may choose to log more detail such as emails and attachments, apps and websites used, file access and copying, and keystrokes.
Of course, any such monitoring activity needs to be sensible and managed with tact to prevent the firm coming into conflict with the workforce.
In hosted desktop environment, the endpoint security of network access devices can be strengthened by using dual or multifactor authentication, where anyone accessing the network needs to provide username, password and something else. This might be a One Time Key (OTK) from a digital device or the answer to a question to which only the user knows the answer.
Monitoring the activity of workers provides a verifiable audit trail of actions of every system user, whether working remotely or in the office environment. This data can be collected and forensically examined in the event of a security breach or an incident that warrants further analysis.
Using an unsecured computer at home or in an Internet café that may be stuffed full of viruses, ransomware other malware nasties? Network level anti-virus prevents the business network being penetrated and minimises the risk of a cybercriminal attack.
Data leakage, something that often results from the use of ‘shadow IT’ - any of the multitude of free internet services such as Dropbox which employees may resort to using unofficially - means the company loses control of its data. Appropriately designed security measures backed by policies enable the firm to stay in control of Personally Identifiable Information, (PII), IP and commercially sensitive data.
The cloud has been the biggest technology trend of the last decade and an enabler of home and virtual office working. It has transformed the efficiency of business technology to provide benefits for all businesses, even those that may have been affected by the disruptive forces that have been unleashed.
For no bricks companies and businesses with fixed geographical places, cloud-based systems such as private cloud and hosted desktop solutions, enable full productivity and collaboration and are able to accommodate virtually any permutation of remote and mobile working.
Why is HTL Support a preferred technology support provider?
HTL provides a range of services to support the use of technology in today’s businesses. Whether it is infrastructure and user support, internet connectivity or voice communications, we provide the high degree of personalised service.
We are very proud to be able to say that we offer impartial advice because we are independent of suppliers, vendors and manufacturers. Ultimately, this enables clients to obtain more value from business technology.
The cloud has been a disruptive trend, but it has levelled the playing field somewhat and put the latest first class technologies within reach of companies of all sizes. Formerly, the cost of technology was a key determining factor that enabled larger companies to outperform smaller businesses. Bigger companies with deeper pockets could simply buy better tech.
The cloud squashes the cost of provisioning technology and puts highly flexible, reliable and secure technology tools at the disposal of all businesses.
About HTL Support
HTL Support was initially founded in 2009 by Managing Director Justin Dean, to provide specialist IT support and IT consultancy services to financial services sector clients. Since its launch, HTL has rapidly evolved to offer a full range of cutting-edge, integrated and flexible products and services to a worldwide client base across all industries. Our experience and professionalism has been endorsed both by our clients and by many of the world's leading hardware and software manufacturers.
All companies need to know that their IT support provider is not going to let them down when it comes to important projects. We will always find the right solution and are equally happy either functioning as project managers for your internal IT department or providing an experienced team to work under your own IT Director or project leader.