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This Week in Remote Work - Dec. 4th Edition

December 04, 2020
By Robb Henshaw

Well, we've officially reached that time of year where people start saying stuff like, "things are going to slow down at work during the holidays." But that's certainly not the case in the world of Remote Work. Here's our summary of some of the top stories from this week's continued deluge of Remote Work articles. Image for a Cameyo blog post about the top 5 remote work articles of the week

1) 5 Reasons Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Will Go Mainstream Post 2020 (CloudTweaks)

While I completely agree with this article that virtual desktops will continue to grow and become mainstream, I think the article would be a bit more accurate if you changed every mention of "virtual desktops" to "digital workspaces." The reason I say that is because Digital Workspaces is the broader category, and virtual desktop infrastructure is just one of the technologies that are being used to enable Digital Workspaces (along with DaaS, Virtual Application Delivery, and more). And for many organizations, it will be a blended approach. For example, if 10% of your users truly need virtual desktops but the other 90% simply need virtual access to all of their business-critical apps, you would use VDI for the 10% and Virtual App Delivery for the other 90% to deliver a Digital Workspace that gives each user what they need.

Terminology usage aside, this was particularly interesting:

According to IDC, the evolution in public cloud has also given rise to two major use-cases in VDI:

    • Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS): Traditionally, desktop virtualization will use an on-premise datacenter to supply hosted desktop images. DaaS providers on the other hand, use the power of the cloud to supply desktop images. This dramatically simplifies management and maintenance as everything can be handled in the cloud infrastructure. Gartner expects the DaaS market spend to grow by a whopping 95% in 2020.
    • Digital workspaces: The rise in complexity in the working environment has reached a level that can no longer be sustained. The growth in adoption of cloud services is changing how employees work. Desktop machines and traditional software is being replaced by internet browsers and web applications on simple portable devices. Workers and IT admins need a more streamlined, focused and automated ‘Single Pane of Glass’ approach that can work across various systems and tools. This has given rise to the digital workspace customer. The digital workplace market alone is expected to touch $50Bn by 2027.

"Workers and IT admins need a more streamlined, focused and automated ‘Single Pane of Glass’ approach that can work across various systems and tools." This drives home a key point illustrating why VDI won't always be a part of the Digital Workspace growth. VDI is often too costly and complex for many organizations to consider it, especially in a pandemic environment where they need to support remote work for 100 percent of their people. Virtual App Delivery provides the simplified "single pane of glass" approach that IDC mentions above. 

2) How to Right-Size Your Virtualization Strategy for Long-Term Remote Work (Forbes)

I've got to admit up front - this is a shameless promotion of my first column for Forbes. But hear me out. If you're interested in what the future of remote work will look like, I think this article will be interesting for you if for no other reason than that it tries to develop consistency in the language that the industry uses when it comes to Digital Workspaces. The phrase "Digital Workspaces" has been co-opted by almost every vendor in this space, but in reality these vendors have technology solutions/platforms that are enablers of a Digital Workspace. Digital Workspaces are the common category under which a variety of desktop and app virtualization solutions fall, all with differing approaches. 

The article also makes the point that Digital Workspaces are not an either/or proposition where you must choose VDI or DaaS or Virtual App Delivery. In reality, you may use multiple solutions so that you give users the right solution based on their needs. For some, they'll need virtual desktops. For a majority of users, though, they simply need access to all of their apps on any device, securely from home. 

I'd love your reactions, feedback, or thoughts on the article in the comments below. Also - if there are other topics you'd like me to cover in future Forbes columns, leave those ideas below as well! 

3) Wall Street Needs to Relax, as Startups Show Remote Work is Here to Stay (Techcrunch)

I appreciate the blunt candor of Ron Miller and Alex Wilhelm in this article. Basically, they talk about how every time there's good news about a vaccine that could help end the suffering of this pandemic, the stock market punishes the work-from-home darling stocks - like Zoom and Peloton - as if the market expects everything to go completely back to normal once a vaccine is widely released. And they candidly point out why that market reaction is unreasonable:

While we surely pine for human contact, office brainstorming, going out to lunch with colleagues and just meeting and collaborating in the same space, it doesn’t mean we will simply return to life as it was before the pandemic and spend five days a week in the office.

One thing is clear in my discussions with startups born or growing up during the pandemic: They have learned to operate, hire and sell remotely, and many say they will continue to be remote-first when the pandemic is over. Established larger public companies like Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Shopify and others have announced they will continue to offer a remote-work option going forward. There are many other such examples.

It is abundantly clear at this point that the traditional "five days a week in the office" work structure will not be coming back for a majority of people, ever. So I think this article hits the nail on the head when saying that the market needs a broader perspective before it blindly punishes "pandemic stocks." 

4) Effective Ways to Engage and Connect with Remote Teams (Forbes)

Taking a step back from strictly the technology-focused side of remote work, I found this article to be a great reminder that human connection and engagement is more important than ever these days. The author gives four very simple, straightforward tips that we all can take to communicate and collaborate more effectively (and humanly) when separated and working from home. 

The point that stood out to me the most, though, was focused on appreciation:

According to a report published by Human Resources Today, 65% of employees don’t feel recognized at work. Similarly, another report by Deloitte indicates that only 17 % of employees believe their managers know how to recognize them well.

However, still more research indicates that showing your appreciation and recognizing employees for their hard work can really benefit a company. According to the Harvard School of Public Policy, companies with peer-to-peer recognition are 35% more likely to report lower turnover.

Now that in-person communication is not an option, employees likely feel overlooked more than ever before. In order to ensure employees feel connected to their team and the rest of the company, maintaining employee recognition programs or even implementing new ones is key.

While we spend so much time focused on making sure people have the right tools to be productive and to collaborate remotely, too often we lose sight of the simple things like making sure your people feel appreciated and recognized at work. This is a great reminder to find ways to show that appreciation even when we're all apart. 

5) If Covid has made working from home our new normal, your boss and Uncle Sam should chip in (CNBC)

This was a really interesting read. Written by William M. Rodgers III, professor of public policy and chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, this article presents the economic arguments for why the government and/or employers may need to shoulder more of the costs involved in enabling long-term remote work. 

But how should we determine who pays for remote work: employees, employers or Uncle Sam?

Economic theory on who bears the costs of job training could provide some insight. In the case of job training, when the skills the employee needs to acquire are specific and nonportable, then employers need to finance the workplace investment. But if the acquired skills are general and thus something the employee will benefit from wherever their career takes them, employees themselves should cover the investment.

Applying this logic to remote work suggests that if the resources needed to work remotely are “general,” meaning they can be used during employment at another company, the employee may need to cover the costs. Examples include desks, lights, paper, printers and pens. On the other hand, if the resources to work remotely are “specific” to the employer, meaning they are not transferable from that employer or useful in non-work activities, then the employer should bear the costs of supplying them, which can take the form of a voucher or a reimbursement.

There’s another factor to take into consideration in calculating how to distribute this burden, however. Since there are societal benefits to remote work — such as less traffic congestion, fewer road accidents, reduced carbon dioxide emissions and more investment in family life and child care — there’s a rationale for the government playing a role in covering the costs.

This article raises some interesting questions that I think still need to be answered when it comes to the balance of cost & cost savings when it comes to remote work. But it's a good thought-starter for sure. 

What were your favorite remote work articles of the week? Share what you've been reading in the comments below. 

BONUS: As an added bonus today, here's a Walter Cronkite segment reporting on what the home office of the 21st century might look like (gotta love the center console - an early look at Zoom!). 

 

We hope you have a great weekend - and join us again next Friday for another installment of This Week in Remote Work!

Filed Under: Remote Work, Working From Home, Digital Workspaces, This Week in Remote Work