The customer success team at Chocolatey is helping teams use Chocolatey Self-Service to deliver Remote Work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We wrote this article to share what we've learned with our customers, in case you can use this information to get the best out of Work From Home (WFH) arrangements.

This won't help keep your dog quiet or the kids focused on their home schooling, but it might help you and your colleagues have the right tools to be productive while locked down at home.

We're all in this together and we'll keep sharing best practices that we discover with our customers and community.

There's lot of information here and we appreciate not everyone has time to read all of it, so we wanted to get straight to the point:

  1. Work From Home is new for many previously office-based users, their IT support and their business leaders.
  2. Even if some staff are seasoned WFH pros, having to suddenly change to WFH puts pressure on people, process and technology.
  3. Delivering an effective WFH capability is technically challenging.
  4. We'll show how Chocolatey customers are using the Self-Service feature to get the top productivity apps into the hands of users.

You can also skip straight to the "How" section to get started.

Get help directly from Chocolatey:

About This Article

Chocolatey's tools for packaging, distribution and management of Windows software is built by and for people solving everyday IT problems. There's no bigger problem today than the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and the business response has been to ask individuals to implement Work From Home -- wherever they can.

Chocolatey for Business (C4B) customers are using the Self-Service capability to overcome the challenges and deliver work from home. We wanted to share our learnings from our customers' experience to help others.

This information has been put together primarily for IT Managers and Systems Administrators who are responsible for enabling Remote Working / WFH using Microsoft Windows software. However, it's also informative for the end-users who are Working From Home and the business leaders who are accountable for delivery. If everyone knows what's possible, collaboration is easier.

What You Will Get From This Article

We want this article to be as helpful as possible so we have split it into four sections so you can quickly find the most appropriate information:

Lorem ipsum Lorem ipsum
What's your situation? We describe the situations that our customers are experiencing with COVID-19 and WFH.
Challenges ahead What are the pitfalls, problems and common challenges with setting up software and devices that use Microsoft software for Remote Working.
Using Self-Service Inform you about how our customers are using Self-Service to solve some of the technical Work From Home challenges.
Action plan Give you an action plan for how to deliver Remote Work/Work From Home with Microsoft Windows and Chocolatey.

We'd Love Your Feedback

We warmly welcome questions, feedback and comments that can improve what we do so we can help others.

  • How Work From Home is One Answer to COVID-19 Lockdown

The global community is working together to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is having an unprecedented impact on lives and livelihoods, resulting in national lockdowns and closure of business locations.

In response, organizations, their IT staff, end users and leadership are entering into new working practices to move from office-based work to Remote Working / WFH where possible. Questions we are hearing include:

  1. What tools do I (as an end-user) need to work from home?
  2. What tools do I (as a leader) need to give to my staff so they can be productive and safe at home?
  3. How do I (as an IT admin) get the right tools to the right people at home?

Work From Home isn't as simple as just surfing the internet at home.

Business as Usual for The Seasoned Professionals

For some Work From Home is long-established business as usual.

Highly technical staff such as, advanced technical support and application developers have been working from home as standard for years, as have freelancers and others.

These old-hands at WFH have the culture, process and tools already established. They are used to doing everything online: video conferencing, messaging, document collaboration. They have the right tools, environment and already setup i.e laptop, software, good home wifi and a quiet working location.

Not everyone is a deeply technical and seasoned WFH professional.

WFH is a Jarring Experience for Many

The sudden move to WFH can be a new experience for staff that are normally office-based, as well as the IT systems administrators that have to enable WFH. Their business leaders are seeing their steady-state world tumble down a mountain-side.

"COVID-19 is shaking up the business organizations across the world, and the answer to this is doing IT in a different, more WFH, way."

What We've Heard from the Chocolatey Community and Customers

At Chocolatey, we work every day to support organizations to improve their IT through our Microsoft Windows application packaging, distribution and management.

Over the past few weeks we have increasingly and urgently witnessed a number of real challenges to providing WFH.

  • Understanding the Technical Challenges to Delivering Work From Home

For the technical challenges of delivering work from home -- sometimes for the first time -- there are three key groups affected.

  • How End-Users are Impacted by Work From Home

    If you've always done the daily commute and worked at a desk in an office, it can be a big shock to be suddenly working from home.

    Aside from the big changes in lifestyle, there are technical challenges to help end-users work from home, getting the right tools to the right person.

    Typical challenges the end-user will face are:

    • Do I have all the tools at home that I normally have at the office?
    • If I have the tools, do they work the same, or are they slower, or not fully functional?
    • How do I avoid downtime at home without the reliable office network?
    • How do I get the tools I need if I don't have the bandwidth for lots of downloads?
    • What if I don't have the technical skills to install the work from home tools?
    • What if technical support is too busy to help me be productive?

    Shifting from the office to home raises a number of challenges to end-users, impacting their productivity. Not having the right software, and having problems getting the right software, slows teams down.

    To compound the end-user challenges, they often find their own IT Support is unresponsive. This unplanned WFH event has caught them without the resources and tools and they are struggling.

  • IT Staff Struggle to Cope with the New Demands Under Time-Pressure

    COVID-19 wasn't planned and it happened very quickly. This gave IT staff little time to build and test an effective and efficient work from home rollout, or hire more resources to help them.

    And now, much like panic buying in the shops has led to shortages of essentials, there is a shortage of spare IT equipment for work from home end-users and no time to hire more technical staff to help.

    Anecdotes we hear from IT staff:

    • Immediate purchase of hundreds or thousands of new devices that all required configuration and software
    • Small IT teams don't have the bandwidth to provision all the new setups
    • IT teams not used to Remote Working don't have the skills or know-how
    • Process, procedures and tools for WFH don't exist

    The blast radius of COVID-19 on the IT department is large. It not only directly affects IT Admins and Help Desk, it also impacts Security and Service Management staff. How can IT ensure their governance processes are still effective when staff and technology has been distributed beyond the office perimeter?

  • Business Leadership Juggle Productivity, Cash Flow and Risk

    As if the business environment wasn't damaged enough by COVID-19 with revenue drying up, demand crashing and suppliers failing, now the human lockdown is driving productive staff out of the office to work from home.

    While all responsible and right-minded leaders will embrace and support work from home, it doesn't mean they can ignore the challenges it brings. They are still responsible for governance and risk management of the business.

    Typical comments we hear from leaders:

    • Do our WFH staff have the right tools to keep business and the value stream operating in times when revenue is under severe pressure?
    • Are we supporting our WFH so they feel empowered and trusted?
    • Are WFH users using properly licensed software?
    • Is our data secure outside of the office?
    • Is there a risk of shadow IT and cutting corners because IT can't respond effectively?

    Leaders have often felt more secure when the workers, process, applications and data are on-premises. This has always been more a feeling than fact. Those that have been working from home successfully for years can attest to this.

    However, if an organization cannot successfully deliver work from home then the feelings will become fact that "Work only works in the workplace". This is not a satisfactory outcome because during the COVID-19 lockdown work from home MUST succeed.

    Support people to be productive Ensure governance and compliance
    Keep revenue coming in Avoid data breaches and bad PR

    One of the technical answers to this corporate culture shift for Chocolatey for Business customers is to use the Self-Service module:

Get the right tools at the right time (now) to the right people at home.

  • How Chocolatey Customers are Using Self-Service to Deliver Work From Home

Deploying software to remote desktop and endpoint devices is not always easy, especially in highly regulated and locked down environments. This can be even more challenging if you don't have the skills or your IT team is overworked.

It's not optional for the business to ensure that work from home staff have the most up to date software deployed to their desktops.

Self-Service Anywhere allows non-administrators to easily access and manage IT approved software from the office, from home, or anywhere they have an internet connection.

Self-Service and Enhanced User Experience

You want staff to get the tools they need to do their job, but you don't want work from home users to start installing their own software, often downloaded straight from the internet, and storing sensitive corporate data in unsecured applications. But this is what can happen -- and it's called Shadow IT -- if they don't get prompt support from corporate IT.

End-users expect the Apple experience. Software should be deployed to them with no 'admin rights' even in highly regulated & locked down environments. They demand a user-friendly, consistent, reliable approach without the need for manual intervention or by waiting in a queue for help from central IT.

The compromise is to offer an consumer-grade App Store experience from within your organization, and that's what Chocolatey for Business Self-Service is for.

Self-Service Installations for Non-Administrators

End users working from home shouldn't require any technical skills or assistance to install any software, but the software they use must be secure otherwise corporate data is at risk.

There's a reason why hackers are increasing their phishing activities in the hope that insecure home users will drop their guard and be easy pickings beyond the corporate perimeter.

IT Staff use Chocolatey for Business to give work from home end-users the following:

  • Software is deployed and updated to users with no 'admin rights' and in highly regulated locked down environments.
  • End-users have an interface to install and upgrade software.
  • The software process is user-friendly, consistent, reliable approach without the need manual intervention.
  • Behind the scenes there is still central management and control aligned with organizational policies. Endpoint users can only deploy software based on policies and user rights (i.e self-service marked packages).
  • Software installed by C4B is completely locked down so non-administrators cannot make changes to configurations. Attempted abuses can be logged and audited.
  • Organizations can customise the look and feel with their own corporate branding.

  • Your Six-Step Action Plan to Deliver a Better Work From Home Experience

Given the situation we are all in with COVID-19, the challenges we all face and with Chocolatey Self-Service being one of the technical answers to getting the right tools into the hands of working from home end users: how do they do it?

  • Provide a Computer or Securely Reuse a Home Device

    This is essential but can be problematic as there is a shortage of laptops and computers due to the unprecedented and unplanned demand for home working.

    Chocolatey can help distribute software securely to corporate and non-corporate devices.

  • Implement Modern Infrastructure to Support Remote Workforce

    Leveraging automation and a more DevOps approach will help IT teams accelerate deployments and enable users faster.

    Chocolatey has developed a Quick Deployment Environment based on infrastructure architecture recommendations. Available as Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware (and convertible to other formats) that can have teams up and running in approx 2 hours.

  • Make Sure the Home Worker has Good Internet Access

    Even mobile phone tethering is pretty good these days with 4G access, where available. Let users expense their wifi and internet costs.

    Chocolatey can help with low bandwidth with its low-bandwidth-friendly compression and caching for software distribution.

  • Distribute New Apps for New Working Practices

    Give your staff the latest tools for chat and video conferencing and new guidelines on how to use them so that they aren't constantly interrupted.

    Chocolatey has prepared a Quick Deployment Environment with pre-installed key productivity application packages. Additional application packages can be easily added.

  • Dedicated Workspace

    Make sure you have a quiet place to work where kids aren't building lego spaceships or eating/distributing porridge 😄

    Chocolatey is not likely to help you in this department unfortunately.

  • Have a Strict Routine

    There are lots of tips and tricks from seasoned work from home veterans on LinkedIn and Twitter that we don't need to repeat.

    What Chocolatey can promise is that if it's managing your software for you, then it won't disrupt your new routine or hurt your productivity.

Final Thoughts & Next Steps

After the first few weeks of working from home, some organizations have easily slipped to normal operations with their teams continuing to work in a productive fashion. However on the other hand, there are organizations that are beginning to see the cracks in their remote working approaches, and now recognize that they need a more scalable and secure solution. Either way it's beginning to feel like remote working could be the new norm for most of us, and ensuring a more consistent and robust approach will form part of IT planning.

If you're an existing Chocolatey for Business customer please complete this form and we can help you get set-up with Self-Service Anywhere and provide access to the Quick Deployment Environment (QDE) Virtual Machine.

If you're new to Chocolatey and are interested in learning more, or just want to quickly set-up Self-Service for your remote users please contact our team.

Get the Quick Deployment Environment Now

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