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Picture: SUPPLIED/CITRIX
Picture: SUPPLIED/CITRIX

In a study conducted by Citrix in August 2019, 61% of knowledge workers in SA indicated that “a lack of trust between employees and employers” was a force hindering flexible work within the country. While many information technology organisations had a business continuity plan in place for regionalised events, Covid-19 forced them to expand their plans to include working-from-home and remote-access solutions for their entire workforce.

Though not voluntarily chosen, this biggest-ever work-from-home experiment provides organisations with an opportunity to test whether remote working can be a way to increase productivity, lower costs and better align with employees’ desire for flexible work styles and locations.

Employee experience at the centre

Many companies are discovering how beneficial it is to provide an employee experience that extends beyond the physical confines of the office and securely connect them to the data, apps and resources they need to keep the business moving forward. To provide this experience, organisations must deliver reliable application performance and ensure security, compliance and control over user access to corporate resources.

Access to applications is key

Applications are at the heart of everything businesses do. Application availability is synonymous with workforce productivity. If applications are interrupted, there is an immediate loss of productivity. Poor application availability and experience can lead to lost revenue and damaged reputation.

Businesses need a solution to ensure the employee experience is maintained and employees and contractors can quickly connect and access their corporate applications or desktops from any location, maintaining productivity through business disruptions so employees can do their best work at home and anywhere else — securely.

This is not a time to compromise security

The security of a business and its applications is always crucial. During a crisis there must be extra vigilance because the business is already more vulnerable. Maintaining security prevents a crisis from becoming a disaster and ensures a business remains trusted by its employees and customers.

At these times, the business’s applications are more likely to be attacked by bad actors and bots, putting additional stress on already strained resources.

More than ever, work is not a place

Bye-bye traditional VPNs

Most companies’ initial response to the work-from-home crisis has been to set up or extend their virtual private network (VPN) usage to significantly more users in the organisation. This technology provides a data connection to a company’s network. It enables your devices at home to connect with your office via the internet.

However, such a traditional VPN solution increases management complexity, the attack surface for hackers, and does not provide employees privacy on bring your own devices (BYOD).  In the rush to respond to the current crisis, some shocking security relaxations have been witnessed: corporate desktops being taken home, enterprise VPNs being installed on untrusted devices like home computers, among other examples.

Just one employee clicking on a malicious link, in these scenarios could result in the company’s sensitive enterprise data being exposed which can significantly harm its public image as well as the confidence of customers and investors.

Hello (secure) digital workspaces

For most, IT workspaces are tightly coupled to the device being used such as a PC, notebook or Mac. With a digital workspace solution, Citrix breaks this dependence on the users’ physical device. Users applications are kept securely in the company’s datacenter or cloud location but appear to the user as if they are installed on their preferred device.

All that is passed between home and the datacenter, is encrypted keystrokes, mouse clicks and pixels required to refresh the screen. Applications are responsive ensuring a positive end user experience. For a company this is an inherently more secure way to work as none of the companies’ critical and confidential intellectual property actually resides on the device being used at home. It also provides IT much more granular control over applications.

IT can prevent printing, screen capturing or saving to a local USB device if required. Additionally, it makes it possible to run Windows applications on a Mac or on more cost-effective devices like Chromebooks. When you suddenly have to equip hundreds or more users with a second device, cost invariably becomes critical.

New ways to work for the future

For many organisations, this work-from-home experiment has proven to many of us that employees do not need to be tethered to their office desks to produce their best and most creative work. There is a real opportunity by developing the right IT systems and organisational mindset to use the current crisis to enable people to be even more productive and engaged long into the future. More than ever, work is not a place.

For more information on Citrix’s digital workspaces and remote work solutions, call +27 11 875 6400 or e-mail: (SA queries): stacey.ryall@citrix.com and (African countries outside SA) bradley.smith2@citrix.com.

For more information on business continuity solutions click here.

This article was paid for by Citrix.

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