Article

5 Reasons Why I Love Hosted Desktops: A User Review

Posted: 19th Feb 2019
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Prior to joining Atlas Cloud in November 2018 I hadn’t even heard of hosted desktops let alone consider how life-changing they could be…

Prior to joining Atlas Cloud in November 2018 I hadn’t even heard of hosted desktops let alone consider how life-changing they could be. With Atlas’ primary product being hosted desktops it’s only right that they should practice what they preach and use exclusively hosted desktops for all their employees. Having worked at companies where remote access to the internal network was considered a privilege, it was immensely refreshing to find that, at Atlas Cloud, remote access is what they’re all about.

It seems like a logical step for any modern workplace to enable their employees to access their desktop from anywhere. Such has been the impact on my life that I feel moved to pay homage through the medium of blog. So without further ado, here are my top 5 reasons why I love hosted desktops:

1. A LIFE-WORK BALANCE TRUMPS A WORK-LIFE BALANCE

One of the huge benefits of a hosted desktop is that a work-life balance is far easier to achieve. For instance, last Christmas I was able to attend my son’s Nativity play without it having any impact on my workday. I worked from home prior to the performance, starting work as soon as I was ready and saving around an hour on the commute etc. Once the Nativity was over – he rocked by the way, apart from refusing to wear his wise man outfit – I had the option to work the rest of the day from home or head in to the office. I decided to work from home because I could then fit my normal number of working hours in before 5pm.

With a traditional desktop set up I would have had to make up time later that day, or soon after, as I wouldn’t be able to fit in my normal working hours before 5pm. Being able to start work early and cut out the commute made all the difference. Being able to catch my son’s performance meant a lot, not only to me but also to my son who was desperate for me to be there. It could even be said that with a hosted desktop it becomes possible to fit work around your life, introducing the concept of a life-work balance as opposed to the old-fashioned notion of a work-life balance. The switch in emphasis is on putting life and family before work – when suitable and acceptable to your employer of course – rather than squeezing your life and family in simply when you can, say on weekends and evenings if they’re lucky. As long as you work your hours and produce quality work then who cares exactly when you do it?

"…with a hosted desktop it becomes possible to fit work around your life, introducing the concept of a life-work balance as opposed to the old-fashioned notion of a work-life balance."

Martin Sharpe - Atlas Cloud

The CIPD ‘UK Working Lives’ Survey Report 2018 found that 40% of those interviewed had the flexibility to work from home. However, a meagre 6% actually took advantage of this arrangement. This is most likely down to the technology made available to them. If you’re restricted in the work / tasks that you can perform remotely then you’re going to take the view that it’s simply easier to be in the office. Easier from a work point of view that is, but not from a life point of view. Using an Atlas Cloud hosted desktop could enable employees to complete 100% of their tasks when working from home.

2. STAGGERING PRODUCTIVITY GAINS: JUST DO THE MATH

With a hosted desktop the productivity benefits are endless. Hosted desktops don’t require an expensive desktop PC or laptop to run them, at Atlas Cloud we use awesome, super stripped-back 10ZiG ‘thin clients’. These tiny devices boot up within 5 seconds and within less than 30 seconds I can be logged into my hosted desktop – they are also a fraction of the cost of a desktop PC. Once logged in it takes no time at all to load up Outlook and my web browser. The whole ‘getting up and running’ process takes less than a minute, meaning I’m good to go almost as soon as my bum lands on the seat.

"Hosted desktops don’t require an expensive desktop PC or laptop to run them, at Atlas Cloud we use awesome, super stripped-back 10ZiG ‘thin clients’."

Martin Sharpe - Atlas Cloud

When running applications, even resource hungry applications, the hosted desktop experience is super-speedy. My 10ZiG has very limited graphics processing power, but it’s simply not necessary as the processing power of the cloud turns my extremely low-spec thin client into a high-powered beast. Of course, it’s not the actual thin client that provides the power, rather the server in the data centre I’m connecting to. The thin client is just a conduit to hosted desktop greatness. In the past I’ve had machines that took 5 minutes to load my favourite graphics package, and even then the display driver would often crash. With the power of hosted desktop my favourite graphics package now loads in around 10 seconds. There’s also zero lag while editing my images, something that I found excruciatingly painful when using a traditional desktop PC in my previous role. Now, making a simple image edit takes less than a minute, as opposed to nearer to ten.

In addition to the super-speedy boot-up I’m also able to shut down my hosted desktop session in next to no time. As someone who likes to have several (thousand) browser tabs open at a time (yes I’m that guy), not to mention multiple documents in numerous applications such as Outlook, Excel and Word, this has been a massive time saver for me. With a hosted desktop you have several options when it comes to finishing up your work. My favourite feature is the disconnect button. This will close your hosted desktop session down but preserve it for later use. So, for example, I could log in the next day and continue where I left off, or I could even log in when I get home if there was something I didn’t have time to finish before leaving the office.

If I don’t need to preserve my hosted desktop session, then I can shut my applications down as per a traditional set up. However, thanks to the faster processing power of the cloud, this takes seconds rather than the several minutes I have experienced with traditional desktop set ups. Often resource-hungry applications can take an age to close, and they can frequently crash in the process.

All-in-all I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m now saving around 30 – 45 minutes a day. I’m no longer waiting for my computer or an application to load or shut down or indeed waiting for an application to do its thing once it finally does open. Not only am I more productive to the tune of circa 2.5 to 3.75 hours a week, but my sanity is also maintained. That works out at a minimum of 115 hours saved annually (if you work on the basis of 230 working days in the year). And that’s equal to approximately 3 working weeks. Multiply that by 50 – 100 employees and you soon see what a hero a hosted desktop solution could be.

3. SO LONG SINGLE-DEVICE DEPENDENCY, HELLO BYOD

Bring Your Own Device
With a hosted desktop you’re no longer constrained to your workstation desktop PC. You can use any device you like to connect to your hosted desktop. This means you could use a work laptop or tablet to access your hosted desktop from anywhere, be it a café, event venue or even a train. Hosted desktops also allow you to use any of your own devices, a concept also known as ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD). Not only does this mean you don’t need to lug a laptop back with you every night if you want to work at home, but also that you get to use a device of your choice, something that you’re very familiar with and perhaps prefer to use. Both the availability of a device and the familiarity of a device have inherent productivity benefits. For IT managers, BYOD can allow them to operate a reduced fleet of remote working and even fixed workstation devices.

4. YOU CAN SUPERCHARGE A BRICK

Thanks to my hosted desktop my laptop is now like a supercharged brick
When my wife, a secondary school teacher, agreed to do some exam marking for the exam board, we sought out the cheapest laptop we could find to allow her to complete her allocation. The theory being that this would maximise our profits from her efforts. The downside of this was that the laptop (as you’d expect for a bargain bin chugger) was of extremely low spec, in fact we affectionately named it ‘The Brick’. It does the job but when my wife is working on a night time I frequently hear her cursing it for loading or operating at a snail’s pace. It’s at times like this that I afford myself a wry smile (ok, sometimes I also just outright gloat) because, when I log in to my hosted desktop from home, I’m powered by the cloud. It turns our brick into something akin to a top-spec laptop, much to the consternation of my wife. It’s the equivalent of heading outside for the work commute only to find the family hatchback has been replaced with a racing car.

5. SICK HAPPENS

Workforce sickness is inevitable
Well it’s as true as the Forrest Gump saying, because workplace sickness is a certain as death and taxes. No one wants to be sick, but when it inevitably comes around the flexibility of a hosted desktop really comes to the fore. For example, my entire family contracted a sickness bug shortly before the Christmas break. While the nausea passed in just over a day, I was obviously contagious for much longer. Having a hosted desktop allowed me to work from home as soon as I felt able to and to recover in a more comfortable environment. This was not just beneficial for me but also for Atlas Cloud. After all, no one wants you in the office spreading your germs around, especially just before the holiday season and a sweet Fleetwood Mac tribute band to look forward to at the works Christmas party. I was able to return to work once my quarantine period was over, meaning a better recovery and no unnecessary ‘Pass-the-Parcel: Virus Edition’ with my colleagues. With a traditional desktop setup, I wouldn’t have been able to work for several days as a) I’d feel too uncomfortable and weak to return to work and b) I wouldn’t want to infect my colleagues. Having a hosted desktop was therefore a great benefit to my employer because I could just pick up my brick of a laptop as soon as I felt able to work and a sickness outbreak in the office was avoided.

"Why I Love Hosted Desktops #5: No 'Pass-the-Parcel: Virus Edition' with my colleagues"

Martin Sharpe - Atlas Cloud

Another great example is when I recently underwent ACL surgery. I was unable to walk without crutches and had to regularly do physio as well as rest and ice my knee. Ordinarily, this would prevent me from working at all with not being able to be in the office. However, with a hosted desktop I could pick up my laptop in-between physio sessions and resting. So, weeks out of work were avoided and I was able to contribute my working hours split over 7 days and not having to conform to the standard 9 to 5. This was invaluable for both myself and my employer.

SO, I HOPE WE’RE NOW IN AGREEMENT…

…that hosted desktops are awesome. They’ve really changed my perspective on the outlook for the modern workplace and proven to me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, just how positive an impact cloud technology can have on productivity and employee well-being. As a result, I’ve never felt as committed to a company as I do working at Atlas Cloud, and I like to think I give my all when I join any company. It’s a great example of how hosted desktops, coupled with a supportive and flexible employer can really solidify an employee’s commitment to the cause. Happier, more productive employees? Sounds like a recipe for business success if ever I heard one. Think this could be a match made in heaven for you and your employees? Give Atlas Cloud a go, you’ve got nothing to lose with a free hosted desktop trial.

About The Author

Martin is a keen badminton player and Newcastle United supporter (for his sins). Outside of sport he loves spending time with his wife and two young children; usually watching copious amounts of Hey Duggee and building masterpieces out of Lego.

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