Six Benefits of Hosted Desktop for Remote Workers

Flexibility to Work Anywhere

Hosted desktop gives employees the freedom to get their work done on any device – inside or outside the office. They can connect to their virtual desktop using their office or home PC, tablet, laptop or smartphone to access work files, emails and more.


Competitive Hiring Advantage

The current generation entering the workforce expects to have the ability to use their own devices whenever they want or need to. A flexible BYOD plan attracts these younger workers, offering a competitive hiring advantage for companies seeking new talent.


Move CapEx to OpEx

Hosted desktop eliminates capital expenditures (CapEx) for new servers and moves to a predictable, monthly cost. This makes CFOs happy because they can classify the cost as an operating expense (OpEx).


More Devices at Less Cost

A hosted desktop strategy allows a company to support more devices without additional cost. The subscription-based model eliminates licensing waste and means the company only pays for actual users.


Keep Confidential Company Information Secure

With a service provider-hosted desktop, the office desktop is kept completely separate from other personal applications and data on the mobile device. This keeps critical work files safe and sound by storing them in a secure, central repository off the local device’s storage.


Control User Permissions

Administrator can set permissions that restrict end users from downloading unapproved documents and applications to their PCs.



Dealing with Interruptions: Recognize the Seriousness of the Problem

We have become not only acculturated to interruptions, but addicted to them. We have the mistaken belief that interruptions are a perfectly normal way of life, despite knowing deep down that “time is a precious commodity that we cannot afford to waste.”

Therein lies the essential message of Edward Brown, founder and president of Cohen Brown Management Group, a culture change and time management consulting and training firm in Los Angeles. But at least he’s trying to do something about it. He’s the author of “The Time Bandit Solution: Recovering Stolen Time You Never Knew You Had,” and he feels strongly enough about the issue to take time out for an in-depth email interview on the topic.

I learned a lot from that interview about the extent to which we allow ourselves to be interrupted, and the price we pay as a result. To set the stage for the discussion, Brown pointed out that there are two key types of interruptions that we tolerate: those coming from other people, and those coming from our devices. He said other people are inveterate time bandits, and the fact that their intent is innocent doesn’t matter:

It’s still an interruption that is much more destructive than most people consciously realize. The boss, a colleague, a customer—it’s usually somebody who has legitimate business with you. So when they start out with that, ‘Got a minute?’ people are accustomed to politely permitting the interruption. The open floor plan, so much in vogue today, no doubt well serves its intended purposes of better collaboration and lower costs. But who doubts that it makes it harder for people to concentrate?
Our devices, meanwhile, are another category of increasingly insistent interruptions:

I had no trouble believing the results of a study from the University of Southern Maine. They found that just the sight of your mobile phone can distract you, even if you are not using it. When asked to complete a complicated task, those who put it in their pocket or their bag scored on average 20 percent higher in the test because they were more focused! … I defy anybody to turn to the Internet to look up something, find it, and return straight to the business at hand, without taking at least one detour to look at something else that popped up unbidden, demanding attention and diverting the most single-minded worker. It almost makes you pine for the old days when preventing interruptions just meant closing the door and turning off the phone.

Brown had a lot to say about time banditry in the IT profession, having spent nine years as chief consultant to Robert P. Rittereiser, executive vice president of operations at Merrill Lynch, who oversaw IT. He described a “workspace alleviation” Merrill Lynch was encountering at the time:

Communication between systems designers and the systems applications group, in combination with the backroom of the retail outlets, began to go into a form of internecine warfare caused by a lack of quality control. This continued until we formed quality control circles and developed parallels, in combination with ‘time locking’ (allowing for no interruptions other than emergencies) and ‘focal locking’ (bearing down and retaining focus), to produce qualitatively superior outputs of systems design for the right reason, and with full cooperation with the systems application group—that is, the test pilots of new designs. At the end of this experience, we were able to convert Merrill Lynch’s space at One Liberty Plaza [in New York], the center of all operations, into 14 regional operation centers. The quality of IT output was only matched by the increase in job satisfaction and morale, and a reduction of distress that Merrill Lynch to this day is very proud of.

Brown went on to say that the IT professionals in his classrooms have really been no different from any other workers:

Like the others, they fear deterring their time bandits because they don’t know how to do it properly—that is, how to get good results for both parties and maintain a positive relationship. Like the others, they need to learn what to say, how to say it. They need to practice it, and they need to do it. I have observed that many IT professionals share traits that I observed in my clients from my earlier career as manager of creative people—writers, artists, songwriters, etc. They often manifest a need to work in uninterrupted environments for long stretches of time—in effect, burying themselves in their work. At least, they do when the muse visits—when they are on a roll. When that happens, they can tune out a lot of distractions. But until then, they suffer distractions poorly. If I managed a team of IT professionals, I’d be very careful to provide them an environment that helped them get into productive mode.


IT Staffing

Brown also pointed out that the tendency among IT pros to look for a technology solution to the problem can be an issue:

Sometimes when I make converts about the interruption culture—when managers realize that interruptions are ruining their team’s productivity—I’ll see them start casting about for technology solutions to the problem. ‘Let’s install an app that prevents people from…’ I get the attraction—how much easier it would be if we didn’t have to learn new skills to control our own time; how nice it would be to outsource the problem to an app. I tell them, ‘Look, this is a skill you can use for the rest of your life in all situations. You are always going to need to know how to use your time most wisely. Even if the app works at the office, are you going to spring it on your spouse?’ Certainly, an app can help communicate to your time bandits, but it can’t replace the skill of negotiating with them.

I asked Brown whether interruptions are more or less of a problem among employees who work from home, compared to employees who work in the office. He said not surprisingly, it depends on the individual and the home environment:

If you are good at self-motivating and organizing your time, you’ll do that as well at home as you would at the office. For some people, the home environment is quiet and controlled, but we are all familiar with the other kind from some of our conference calls—dogs barking, doorbell ringing, kids calling. So it’s hard to be categorical about which environment is less interruptive. But here’s what I’d say regardless: Whatever environment your people are in, they need the skills and tools for working productively in that environment. If you have an IT professional who has to work from home but who thrives on ready engagement with colleagues, you need to provide the skills and tools for that. If you have people who need to concentrate, and they have to work in a busy open environment, they need the skills and tools for doing so. A growing skill for managers will be the ability to discern what their various employees thrive on, and what undermines their productivity. It’s too easy to stereotype certain groups of employees, create the same environment for all of them, and leave some percentage of them desperately unable to perform, despite their best efforts.

Brown also shared some enlightening insights about the cost of time banditry, false assumptions about the issue, and what companies can do to help alleviate the problem. I’ll cover those in a forthcoming post.




Five Ways to Optimize Enterprise Wi-Fi

Companies rely on Wi-Fi now more than ever to drive operations and ultimately business growth. Whether it is collaborating with colleagues or clients, managing customer success, or accessing any number of business applications and services on the market, companies recognize that when the Internet lags, the business lags.

Therefore, reliable, high-speed Wi-Fi is of utmost importance to companies, as it enables employee productivity. But not all companies understand the ins and outs necessary to make this a reality. Today, enterprises must consider a number of new factors if they hope to deploy reliable, high-performance Wi-Fi networks that meet spikes in traffic and mobile usage. In this slideshow, Dirk Gates, founder of Xirrus, provides five tips to optimize your enterprise Wi-Fi network.


1. More Radios in the Infrastructure

In the past, Wi-Fi was all about range and minimizing access point (AP) count. However, with the explosion in mobile devices today, enterprises began adding more and more APs to their Wi-Fi infrastructure. That can be time-consuming and, more importantly, costly to upgrade. The real key is increasing the number of radios per AP, while keeping AP count at bay. Channel planning, power management, data rate optimization and the elimination of legacy clients will all be necessary to get the most out of your network, but adding radios is ultimately the only way to handle the ever increasing traffic demands in Wi-Fi today.

2. Design for Device Count, Not Square Footage

Calculating AP count by area no longer works. Today, it’s best to project device count – currently estimated at three per user and growing to more than five in the near future – then calculate the number of APs required from there. Likewise, the days of trying to handle many 10’s of devices per AP radio are over. To be able to adequately support voice and video applications, a properly designed network will on average see less than 10 devices per AP radio. Additionally, for even better performance in your Wi-Fi network, limit the number of associated devices per radio to guarantee performance.

3. Use Software-Programmable, Dual-Band Radios

Getting to 5GHz is becoming a necessity for many companies, as more and more new devices support 802.11ac. But in the long run, it does little good to have all your 5GHz-enabled devices using 802.11ac when only half the radios in your infrastructure are capable of doing so. Today, most APs ship with one legacy 2.4GHz radio and one 5GHz radio.

To combat “stale radio syndrome” in your infrastructure, you should look for APs with radios that can operate in either band and can be software programmed to do so. This allows you to deploy APs today with one radio operating at 5GHz and the other at 2.4GHz to support legacy devices. In the not too distant future, you’ll be able to begin moving those 2.4GHz AP radios to 5GHz as more 802.11ac devices show up. Then ultimately, you’ll be able to operate a 5GHz-only network.

4. Use Mode Steering in Addition to Band Steering

Band steering is a good start, but you will also want to enable mode steering, or the grouping of like capable devices together on one AP radio. Grouping legacy 802.11a/g devices together on one AP radio, 802.11n devices on another, and 802.11ac on yet another radio guarantees that all stations get optimal performance. Having more radios in your network allows for better segregation of devices by capability, resulting in better performance.

5. Make Sure Your Network Is Application Aware

Even with all the aforementioned optimizations, Wi-Fi networks can still get congested. Mobile devices are voracious consumers and producers of network traffic these days. Therefore, a major way to ensure things run smoothly on your network is to single out the mission-critical applications, giving them priority, while throttling or blocking non-mission-critical applications that just eat bandwidth.

A great example of this comes in the form of file sync applications like DropBox, Box, iCloud and others. These applications are constantly uploading and downloading data, taking as much of the pipe as they can get. At the opening and closing ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, the top four bandwidth hogs were file sync apps, unbeknownst to the users creating the traffic. Without the ability to recognize this traffic and throttle it, the network would have failed during the event.

Ultimately, this all comes down to good Wi-Fi network design, which is much different in the 802.11ac, 5GHz, multi-mobile-device-per-user world we live in now than it was just a few short years ago. Designing for flexibility in radio count and band usage, making sure each device gets the best possible experience, and ensuring actual performance through the use of an application-aware policy engine, is critical for the success of Wi-Fi networks today.



Your Workday on Email: Mobile vs. Desktop Habits

Email Opens

Overall, desktop email peaks during traditional business hours – 8 a.m. to about 5 p.m. Mobile access of work email also increases during these hours, though not as much as desktop. It also has a steadier access rate throughout the business day.

Morning Commute

Recipients are more likely to open emails on their mobile phones when they first wake up in the morning and during their commutes into the office.

In the Zone

As the workday takes off, desktop email opens increasingly outpace mobile opens. Email productivity peaks around 10 a.m. for most people.

The Lunchtime Dip

People are stepping away from their desks at lunchtime. Desktop usage dips around noon and bounces back at 1 p.m., but at a slightly lower volume. Mobile usage remains consistent throughout lunch. The spike in desktop opens after lunch shrinks as the week goes on.

Afternoon Decline

In the immediate post-lunch period, recipients remain focused on work. But afternoon email apathy sets in between 3 and 4 p.m., with both desktop and mobile opens dropping off toward the end of the day.

Working Late

Mobile email usage slightly outpaces desktop during the evening after-work hours.



Understanding Consumption Models Around Cloud

The rapidly shifting digital economy has forced businesses to reinvent the ways in which they operate — internally and externally. For IT companies, according to Accenture, the way to work and be successful with cloud innovations will “fundamentally change” based on the “notion of everything as a service.”

Accenture’s Eric Brown pointed out the impacts new technologies, including big data and connected devices, will have on IT, such as managing huge amounts of data and demand for 24/7 support. However, changes have already occurred in the cloud space, where there is demand that IT companies learn new consumption-based models.

“There are a lot of nuances that actually go into how to truly drive a consumption-based model,” said Brown.

Brown said that means looking into IT companies’ operations and understanding how that business consumes services from its own providers.

“The provider space, specifically in the cloud — and public cloud where it’s a true utility-type model — not all of the services and the consumption models associated with those are the same. A lot of care and time needs to be put into this to understand how each of the models interact, and interact with your business and enable your business,” Brown said.

Brown said the new consumption models around cloud is “ushering in a new way to look at IT” and “fundamentally changing how we operate.”

Perhaps even more importantly, successful consumption models enable speed and agility for IT companies — boosting a company’s overall performance and value as a service provider.