Digital collaboration is here to stay. For years, employees have been collaborating using digital tools like Office365, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. But due to recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic and employees demanding flexibility from their employers, organizations across the globe and in different industries feel the urge to take the digital workspace to the next level, using their favorite operating system as a basis. Do you want to provide your employees with a future-proof workplace? We will help you! In this white paper we will elaborate on the requirements of the digital workplace in 2021 and beyond. Since all these requirements are met by Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), first we will explain what WVD is. After that we will dive into the different requirements and show several scenario’s and use cases to illustrate the value of WVD.
About Windows Virtual Desktop
Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a virtualization service for desktops and apps that runs in the Microsoft cloud. When you run Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure you can set up a multi-session Windows 10 deployment that delivers a full Windows 10 with scalability. WVD lets you virtualize Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise and optimize it to run in multi-user virtual scenarios and provides you with Windows 7 virtual desktops with free Extended Security Updates.
Now let’s take a look at the requirements for the digital workplace in 2021.
1. All your applications at hand
As stated in the introduction, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more and more people working (regularly) from home. According to Computable (a Dutch media website on technology) more than three quarters of employees want to continue working from home after the pandemic. Not only do they prefer to work from home, their productivity has also increased. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees spent 12% less time on meetings and 9% more time interacting with customers and external partners. Besides from the regular office applications used for collaboration or document sharing, employees might use software to fulfill certain job-specific tasks.
An engineer might use CAD software, a sales manager might use a CRM tool and a designer works with desktop publishing software. If these tools are installed and run on-premises, working location independent is difficult. When companies virtualize the employees’ desktop, that problem is solved. With WVD you can provide users working from home (or any location for that matter) with the exact same experience they would have working from the office.
Another important development in the last years is the ever growing flexible workforce: companies have direct employees, but might also hire contractors, seasonal workers or consultants for specific tasks. All these people need a place to work and access to certain information.
The easiest solution used to be to provide them with laptops with all the necessary apps. But that could lead to some inconvenient situations. Picture a consultant helping a client, for example a bank. She has a laptop from the consultancy firm, but also receives one from the bank. The information she needs to access is divided over two devices. If the bank would provide her with a virtual desktop, that scenario would be history. The consultant can gain access to the client’s workspace using her own browser and device.
3. Permanent Performance
We are in the middle of a digital transformation that provides companies and employees with possibilities that we didn’t dare to dream of at the beginning of this century. Examples of these are predictive maintenance for manufacturing companies or healthcare services provided from a distance, using teleconferencing.
However, the fundamentals of the technology have to be solid in order to provide these services. Up until recently the latest hardware and hyper fast broadband were needed for these types of services, but these fundamentals can run in the cloud nowadays. With the cloud, the only two things employees need are a browser and an internet connection to execute their work. The frustrations of a slow laptop or a tablet that cannot handle the requested computing power are history. Using Windows Virtual Desktop employers can provide users with the necessary tools to do their jobs anywhere, anytime.
Some companies need to instantly grow their workforce, with over a 100 new employees starting each month. Imagine the work for the facilities and IT departments at these companies. Preparing workplaces and installing apps on several devices is time consuming and costly. With WVD however, this can be arranged in just a couple of clicks, so IT will never be a bottleneck in the onboarding process. Scaling down the workforce is also much easier. Just as quickly as employees can get access to their work environment, access can be denied.
5. Cost Efficiency
Cost efficiency is a priority for directors and managers regardless of the industry they work in. They don’t want to pay too much on a workplace, but they don’t want to compromise user efficiency either. With Windows Virtual Desktop you decrease the costs of the workplace and increase the user satisfaction. With WVD you switch from CAPEX to OPEX. Instead of investing in hardware you move to a model in which you only pay for usage. Above we highlighted the importance of flexibility, this also impacts the costs. We live in uncertain times. Due to sudden drops in demand, the number of workplace users can decrease in just a couple of weeks. This makes it very hard to determine the number of workplaces you need in the next quarter, which makes it even harder to estimate your growth in personnel over the next years. The wrong estimate could be very costly.
If you purchase new hardware based on a growth estimate that will be adjusted in a couple of months, you run the risk of spending much more money on workplaces than you eventually need. With WVD you don’t have to worry about this, you only pay for the usage which makes your purchasing policy much more agile.
Employees depend on their digital tools in order to execute their work. Connectivity issues or system crashes do not only frustrate employees, they’re also costly. Using WVD you mitigate that risk because you have much more control. Imagine a lawyer who cannot access important information to prepare for a case due to a problem with his laptop. Every minute this person cannot work, valuable time (and money) gets wasted. If this scenario happens in an office, someone from the IT department could help the lawyer quickly to limit the damage. But in the work from anywhere era the problem would not get fixed right away, and the consequences could be costly. Now imagine the same lawyer using WVD. If the information is not available on one device, he can easily switch to another device and continue his work, minimizing downtime.
Obviously, the digital transformation provides many advantages for employees and companies. But digitization also increases the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches. Hackers get more and more sophisticated in their approaches, but employees can make mistakes too. We all know one or two stories about someone leaving their laptop on the train. This may sound like a small mistake but it could have serious consequences. Just imagine this device containing privacy-sensitive data on the hard drive.
Security is a must for the digital workplace in 2021. Windows Virtual Desktop provides users with this secure working environment without compromising the user experience. When a desktop is virtualized and data runs in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about data breaches because access to information can be controlled remotely.
This is also the case when it comes to securing intellectual property. When an employee leaves your company to work for a competitor, the last thing you would want is for this person to take with him the data of your company. When your company uses WVD in this situation you can remotely cut off the access to important documents so nobody could steal your trade secrets.
Conclusion about the Digital Workplace in 2022
The workforce in 2021 demands a digital workplace that provides them with the necessary flexibility to work from anywhere while preserving the experience they have working at the office. At the same time companies need the flexibility to up- and downscale their workplaces according to the supply and demand cycle of their business. And this all needs to be done in a secure fashion without compromising performance and business continuity. In this white paper we have illustrated how Windows Virtual Desktop meets all these requirements for the digital workplace of 2022.