So many folk have office desktops or have left their laptops in the office. WFH & BYOD comes of age. We've proved we can work from home, now we have to prove that we can BYOD. They're already asking for mice, screens, desk stands, new laptops and the supply of hardware is not easy when everyone's after it.
Our biggest issue is that our primary desktop management tools -- SCCM and AV -- are on-prem. The message we're getting now is to reimagine how work will work in the future, which we believe will mean less people in offices, and fewer formal offices. So we're now scrambling to get up to speed on cloud management tools, namely Intune. Asking users to connect with VPN is not on the table.
I don't know if this would honestly have been better voted on as business continuity, however demand for our products (oil and gas energy) have declined drastically. No travel, factories shutting down or limiting quantities, and the price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia have plummeted our commodity prices. This has caused COVID-19 to just be the tip of the iceberg for us. Even when things start to normalize, we will still be in an economic downturn that was initiated and driven by COVID-19. That will continue to hurt us long past the rest of most companies.
I could honestly say we've been a little of "All of the above" coupled with a high percentage of "Firing on all cylinders". I think we've done very well overall. There have been little fires here and there, and things that needed to get ramped up/reconsidered/retooled, but I'd say with each of the challenges listed, we've faced and overcome to a certain degree, though pieces of each do tend to pop up from time to time. Nothing has been insurmountable, though.
Although my network and its support teams were ready for the fast ramp up to handle Covid-19 needs, having to do so with virtually no notice was successful only by coincident and lucky forethought and planning. We were already completing the process of increasing bandwidth and throughput capacity on WAN and Internet services, had recently made a big firewall hardware upgrade to handle future growth, and had just put a great, new Citrix portal / remote desktop environment into production. Those things had taken between six and twelve months to accomplish, and it was a blessing to our Health Care System that we had it ready to use right before COVID-19 hit our region.
What we didn't have at the time was an official blessing from Management for people to move home and be fully supported, to be fully trusted to get our work done without someone being able to look over our shoulders as we did our work.
Fortunately, that last bit was validated by the unchanged output of the people who started working from home. They continued providing great support while away from their office cubes. We moved over 3000 employees home in approximately two weeks. We were only able to do so by leveraging projects already in place that had increased the capabilities of new firewalls for up to 2500 simultaneous AnyConnect VPN sessions, had enabled new Always On VPN solutions behind load balanced F5's for resilience and easy expansion of clients by 500 at a time, and provided an expanded Citrix farm with plenty of space to handle the new remote demand. These things made the ramp up and move home faster and more successful than I'd ever have imagined.
If an organization wasn't already working to provide these additional capabilities, every one of the items I listed about could be a potential pain point, and perhaps even be a blocker to progress.
Now that so many of us are working from home, I'm hearing about Management planning to possibly let us stay home. This would allow reallocating our old on-site cubes & offices to other purposes, including changing them from IT support to patient support or even patient care.
It's been a great success, and the care providers and patients and business staff have praised our abilities. Simultaneously, I think they believe this must have been no big deal for our I.T. staff since we got it done in record time without complaining and without a huge investment at the request. Sadly, they don't see we'd been working on developing this for over a year, and had budgeted for the new nice services.
I worry they'll think they can ask us to pull many new rabbits out of our hats with no notice and no new budget in the future, simply because we hit this one out of the park so quickly.
We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, hoping we don't have to be like ST:TOS's Bones ("I'm a DOCTOR, not a Network Engineer!") or Scotty ("I can't break the laws of Physics, Captain--I've got to have thirty minutes!")
Things I have observed with regards to my company and some others I interact with and not in any particular order:
1) not having the constant drive-bys at the office allows us to get more work done.
2) a lack of structure may lead to some to not being as vigilant in their work.
3) increased use of IM (jabber, SMS and such) to communicate between team members.
4) some work at home environments are not as conducive to work....been through this before after neck surgery when I had to work from home for 3 months.
5) due to convenience some people work longer hours/days.
6) while some thrive in the work from home environment, others benefit from the human interaction and performance drops off.
7) drive-bys from family thinking because you are at home you can babysit, do chores, go to the grocery store, etc.
😎 getting behind on activities/chores at home due to number 5 above.
Motivation (Laziness?) - And not just End Users either. People are still doing their job and everything, but it seems that something has happened to the motivation. I see it in other departments as well. Upper Management is trying to get things motivated but its hard when almost your whole team is teleworking. You cant get the connectivity of group settings. It seems people get up and go has went.
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