In the world ahead, the better way to work is virtual, avers Sanjay Deshmukh, Area Vice President of Citrix Systems India Pvt Ltd, Mumbai (http://bit.ly/F4TCitrix). The scenario he describes is one of being free from tethers such as the office, devices, networks and data centres.

“It’s better because a virtual work style creates new possibilities for personal efficiency and business speed. The world’s smartest organisations are discovering that ‘going virtual’ is how to stay ahead in a business world that’s changing faster than ever,” he adds during a recent lunch-hour interaction in Business Line.

Unlike shifting blame, work-shifting is a welcome idea, I learn. It is the ability to effortlessly move the work of people and computing to a more optimal place. Sanjay tells me about his company’s topical blog (www.workshifting.com), where a new post at the time of writing this is by David Baeza, about the need for ‘workplace disruption plan’ in the context of the harsh ‘ash’ reality.

Work-shifting is a simple, compelling and powerful way to explain the value of virtual computing products and services, notes Sanjay. And my conversation with him continues over the email.

Excerpts from the interview.

How does work-shifting bring in cost efficiency?

Delivering cost efficiency can be thought about in multiple ways for an IT organisation. In a traditional method where work means coming to an office, the associated costs are lease rentals, facilities, maintenance of fixed assets, maintenance of multiple desktops and devices along with applications etc.

Work-shifting gives the organisation the ability to deliver the applications to the employee wherever they may be and on any device. This means that the employee can potentially buy their own device and get their office desktop ‘delivered’ to them. Not only that, the employees can get the desktop and apps delivered to them on a smart phone as well.

The employee no longer needs to come to an office to work – rather the work shifts to wherever the employee might be. The organisation can save on office space and its related costs, as well as IT management costs.

Work-shifting gives the organisation the ability to operate more productively with fewer resources, establish business continuity strategy, reduce energy consumption through a company-wide ‘green’ initiative, enhance security and control to prevent costly compromise of data, implement productivity-enhancing technology, and provide 24/7 support without increasing IT staff.

Can you elaborate on the possible productivity gains?

When you give the employee a chance to work from wherever they are, productivity improves dramatically. Employees no longer need to travel and commute to work and the work shifts to their location. Giving them the ability to access their work applications from any device does not tie them to a fixed device and hence they can work from anywhere.

Some stats that we have seen are:

• A 37.6 per cent reduction in the length of staff meetings.

• Managers had an average decrease in interruptions of 43.2 per cent.

• Individual contributors saved an average of 6.3 hours per week in commute time.

• Individual contributors re-invested an average of 4.5 hours back into their work tasks.

• Supervisors logged an average increase of 90 minutes of planning, goal setting and strategising per week.

Is this proven? Do we have successes of deploying this model?

Work-shifting is a fairly new concept and has just started appearing on the radar of organisations. Desktop and application virtualisation act as the foundation for the work-shifting concept. It offers a way to extend the benefits of virtualisation – better performance, lower TCO, higher security and greater flexibility – to the full desktop. As you may be aware, desktop virtualisation adoption is accelerating worldwide.

In the world of work-shifting, work is not a place. Meetings and workplaces are virtual. Desktops, once considered devices, are a service – with easy access from any PC, browser, smart phone or tablet.

Data centres are no longer data processing factories. Instead, they’re virtual – private or public clouds – designed as flexible, efficient delivery centres. IT organisations get inverted – flipping from a focus on computing technology to becoming architects of business change, designers of customer experiences and fiduciaries for corporate intellectual property. In the virtual computing world, user experience goes vertical with the convenience of self-service and the consumer-like power of choice.

There are solutions that can deliver every type of virtual desktop – each specifically tailored to meet the performance, security and flexibility requirements of each individual user. One other technology along with desktop virtualisation is ‘bring your own desktop.’ Here, although the desktops are virtual, running on remote servers, the user experience is equivalent to that of a local Windows desktop. From the user’s perspective, logging on to a virtual desktop is the same as logging on to a local desktop. Users enter their credentials once and are connected to their desktops.

All these help in meeting the objectives of working in a brick and mortar office, such as collaborating, meeting, team work, and support, which would happen in any typical office ecosystem.

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