As many businesses continue to work remotely during COVID-19, remote desktop technology has become a critical tool. Employees who are working from home need access to their office computers. This can significantly increase productivity, as employees have everything they need to access files and complete work tasks, while also keeping teams safe and healthy. With remote work a long-term solution for many businesses, employers should have a clear understanding of what remote desktop programs are and the benefits they provide.
How does a remote desktop work?
Remote desktop technology works by helping users connect to a specific computer from any location. Once connected, users can perform various management and administration tasks as if they were physically sitting in front of that computer.
A remote desktop connection redirects information from one computer to another, facilitated by a client application. Once the user opens the remote desktop application, it instructs the remote computer to send the information to a new location – the local computer physically in front of the user – and then translates that information into a graphical interface projected to the local computer.
Remote desktop software can be used for tech support or customer service purposes, allowing professionals to find real-time solutions without having to meet in person. However, businesses across all industries can utilize remote desktops to improve their functions and increase productivity outside of the office.
What are the benefits of using a remote desktop?
Remote desktop software offers businesses several benefits in these areas:
1. Remote work environment
Many employees are working fully or partially from home during the pandemic and may not have access to the same programs or files on their home computers as they do in the office. Even as COVID-19 restrictions ease, remote work is here to stay. In fact, a projected 70% of the workforce could be working from home by 2025. By using a remote desktop, teams can maintain high productivity while working remotely and ensure a seamless transition between in-office and at-home operations.
With a remote desktop, even office-based employees can enjoy increased flexibility in where and how they complete their work. They no longer need to stay late at the office to complete a task on time, because they can access their work computers from home after hours. This can offer employees a better work-life balance by allowing them to manage their personal priorities alongside their professional ones – a balance that is not only appreciated but can actually boost productivity and engagement.
Accessing necessary files or repairing computer issues doesn't need to be a time-consuming task. Rather than driving to the office or relying on someone onsite to access the affected computer, employees can use remote desktop software to get what they need easily, no matter what time of day or where they are located. This can be especially useful for troubleshooting technology solutions, in which instructions often get lost in translation over a phone call or email.
Teams with remote desktop access are no longer bound to their office desks. They can now take their work to their favorite coffee shop or park, or access their files while on vacation or staying with family. This accessibility allows employees to work wherever is best for them, whenever they need to – a benefit that can boost productivity and creativity. As long as they have an internet connection and a remote desktop connection manager, they can complete their work tasks regardless of location.
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What are the challenges of remote desktop software?
Employees may experience many of the pain points of remote work, including technology hiccups. Ensuring a stable Wi-Fi connection and having a backup computer or tablet can help keep processes running smoothly. Each remote worker should also have the contact information for their IT department in case of tech issues.
"Employers need to keep their distributed teams in the know," said Sahin Boydas, CEO and founder of RemoteTeam.com. "This involves communicating what the remote desktop management would look like, the part employees are supposed to play in order to create and manage a smooth system, and what each party needs to do (both IT support and employer) when it comes to accessing an employee's system remotely."
In addition to the communication challenges that come with remote work, a remote desktop brings its own sets of challenges. Here are a few remote desktop issues and how to address them:
1. Security risks
Remote access increases the risk of a security breach, which can be detrimental both personally and professionally. Without the proper safeguards and safe online habits, employees may leave sensitive information open to cybercriminals or bad actors within the company. All remote desktop devices should be vetted and secured, and all users authenticated, to prevent security failures.
2. Network failure
Employees may not be able to connect to a remote desktop session because there is no valid communication path between the two computers. A process of elimination is necessary to determine where the problem is: the individual user, the network or the terminal server. Network failure can have a few different root causes, including issues with wireless versus wired connections, VPN traffic, or a specific subnet.
3. Firewall problems
Firewall problems are a common culprit for remote desktop failures. They may occur on public networks that block remote desktop access, or when employees try to connect to a home computer while at work. To prevent this, make sure that the computer's desktop software port is open on any firewalls between the employees' computers and their server. If it is not already selected, users may need to manually allow the app or feature through the firewall.
4. Insufficient permissions
To gain access, users must be assigned the right to log on through remote desktop services. Otherwise, they will receive an error message when they attempt to connect. You can adjust this setting through "user rights assignment."
5. Exceeded capacity
Employees may not be able to access their remote desktop if the infrastructure capacity is exceeded. This can occur if all the available licenses have been used, the server is too busy, or the launch of another session would impact the performance of existing ones. A short-term solution to this is starting an "admin" session, but if this issue occurs frequently, it may be time to scale up your capacity.
Remote desktop software to consider
If you've decided to use a remote desktop, your next step is determining which remote access software to use. Carefully consider your business's needs, including the number of users or licenses, budget, and mode of access (such as mobile access). Many remote desktop companies offer free trials or special discounts, so you can try different software before making a decision.
Generally speaking, remote desktop companies are transparent about their plan details and cost structures. However, you should carefully review any contracts you receive, keeping an eye out for the cancellation policy and any built-in price increases. Ask your provider any questions you have to ensure you understand the full terms of the agreement.
These are some remote desktop options to consider:
- RemotePC by IDrive offers an easy-to-use web browser interface, multiple collaboration options, and 24/7 customer support.
- ConnectWise Control allows support agents to access remote cameras, includes advanced security options, and offers customizable branding and installation.
- Zoho Assist offers end-to-end SSL encryption, an API for custom integrations, and multiple pay-as-you-go plans.
- TeamViewer offers single-user, multi-user, and team plans, which each provide drag-and-drop file transfer and custom branding.