It’s no question that a remote workforce is becoming more and more prevalent as time passes, as proven by a 2017 Gallup survey showing that 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, which is up four percentage points since 2012. VPN technologies (like DirectAccess, my all-time favorite) have made connecting to the workplace incredibly easy over the last several years, but even with modern VPN technologies, managing a remote workforce can present an organization with a multitude of productivity and cost challenges.
For example, remote workforce management challenges really surface when hardware is stolen, lost, or broken. For most organizations, the typical protocol in a broken device scenario is for the remote end user to visit the office for a replacement or ship the device back to IT and have IT ship a new device to the end user in return. Whichever way the device gets passed back and forth between the IT department and the remote worker, productivity is inhibited and costs are incurred.
Thankfully, there’s a new way to manage a remote workforce that can eliminate the double shipping costs and decrease the time a user is unproductive. Using Windows 10, Azure AD Premium, Intune, and OneDrive for Business, this solution can become a reality. Leveraging these technologies will decrease any unplanned down time due to lost/stolen/broken devices, reduce shipping costs, and still maintain your company standards for devices. The CYOD (choose your own device) scenario is finally an option.
In the broken device scenario above, a user with Windows 10 Professional Edition installed would simply purchase a new device and join the device to Azure AD (note: this does not require elevated privileges that would enable the user more access than required to the environment). Then, with a simple, straightforward set of instructions, the user can perform a Windows 10 setup (which can be accomplished by anyone), and all their data, settings, and applications would be ready to use just as they were prior to the break. Minimal downtime, and no unnecessary shipping costs or overall hassle for the end user or the IT department!
If you haven’t been through the setup yet, it is worth your time to witness the end-user experience. Once the device is Azure AD joined, the device can be configured to be automatically assigned the appropriate licenses and enrolled in Intune for the configurations to be deployed. Whether the configurations are software installations or registry settings for folder redirection to OneDrive for Business, the end user’s applications and data can be restored in 15 minutes without heavy involvement from IT—a much more palatable option than hours or days of back-and-forth between the IT department and the remote worker.
In addition, with Azure AD Premium and the password write-back capabilities of AD Connect (synchronizing between Azure and on-prem), there’s a self-service password reset portal that’s incredibly easy to use. So, if you’re looking to solve another problem of the remote workforce and password resets, or if you’re trying to reduce the number one reason people call the service desk, Azure AD might be the way to go.
Remote workforce management presents a unique host of challenges that are only going to increase as off-site workers continue to become more prevalent. Luckily, advanced technologies are emerging to help overcome these changes.
If you are familiar with the traditional method of managing remote workers, I’m sure you can only imagine the value these new solutions could bring to your business in terms of salvaged productivity and cost savings.
Want to talk more? Don’t hesitate to reach out and contact me with any comments or questions.