13 Apr

Social distancing for IT: Remote Computer Imaging

By now we’ve all heard that social-distancing and self-quarantining are extremely important to slowing the spread of COVID-19. With coronavirus living for up to 24 hours on cardboard, 2 days on plastic, and 3 days on metal, and many carriers of the virus being asymptomatic, it can be spread in the most unlikely of places. For IT, that means laptops, keyboards, webcams, printers, and the UPS shipping boxes these arrive in are all touches that must be evaluated – Are these touches required? Business critical? Is there a way to avoid them? Something as simple as handing a laptop to a co-worker has become an action to avoid.

Supporting WFH users, from home

Many companies have now implemented voluntary or mandatory WFH policies to protect employees and their families. For all businesses, especially those who aren’t readily equipped to support remote workers, adapting to a virtual office is crucial and has IT urgently pushing to get WFH users equipped and trained to maintain productivity while working remotely.

While an emergency laptop order might be essential, setting up an imaging workbench in the office to provision the new machines is no longer an option. Implementing a remote computer imaging solution to provision and distribute the laptops will ensure that IT follows social-distancing guidelines, eliminates in-person interactive between IT and end users, and enables IT to manage remote endpoints through the duration of this crisis.

Leveraging cloud for remote computer imaging

Here are 3 steps for IT to setup a work from home computer without coming in contact with the end user or the computer.

1. Place emergency laptop order

As soon as you have the green light from management to order laptops or tablets, do it. If you have a reseller to call rather than going to the local Best Buy, even better. Since the surge in work from home employees store shelves have been stripped of laptops. Also, in some states your electronics stores may be closed if not deemed essential business.

2. Dropship to users

When placing your laptop order, have your OEM partner or reseller dropship the laptops to the individual end users’ homes. By skipping the stop at headquarters, you’ve completely eliminated IT’s exposure to any retail store customers and employees, the FedEx delivery person, and the end user by not having to exchange it in person.

3. Reimage over cloud

Once the laptop is delivered to an employee’s doorstep, use a tool like SmartDeploy that allows you to reimage over the internet, zero-touch, without an established VPN connection. With a cloud deployment option in place, you can easily perform remote computer imaging and even deploy specific applications and remote tasks over cloud. SmartDeploy integrates with your Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or OneDrive for Business cloud storage account.

While there are critical IT tasks that need to be accomplished, limiting exposure in any way possible is critical to keeping employees and their families healthy. If you’re supporting employees that are still in the office, be sure to use a Remote Desktop Connection rather than sitting at someone’s desk, keep hand sanitizer with you, and insist that support requests be routed through your ticketing system rather than in-person requests. If you expect a WFH policy to be implemented soon, think about these 5 IT requirements for WFH users.

About the Author

Heidi Flaig
Heidi Flaig has overseen the marketing department for SmartDeploy since 2011 and thrives on engaging with IT professionals to better understand how SmartDeploy products can improve their world. She has over 500 contributions in the Spiceworks community. When she’s not in the office, you can find Heidi hiking with her husband, two sons, and silver lab, Miles.