“With metrics from Goliath, we learned there is no normal set of work hours when everyone is working from home.”
Michael Pfaeffle, Senior Vice President and CIO, Empire Office
COVID-19 Pandemic Changes Work Styles Overnight
Empire Office is the United State’s largest commercial furniture dealer, providing creative and cost-effective workspace solutions. Based in Manhattan, NY, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, they were mandated to immediate stay at home orders, forcing their entire workforce to work from home. Fortunately, their Senior Vice President and CIO, Michael Pfaeffle, had already enabled the teams to work remotely by investing in Citrix XenApp a few years prior. The team had the tools to work remotely, but the lingering question was if they could work effectively from their home offices.
Prior to the pandemic, the majority of Empire Office’s staff worked from their headquarters in Manhattan. When everyone moved to remote working, management needed a better way to monitor and measure the productivity of the team. They wanted insights into the effectiveness and accessibility of the current tools the team had to ensure they could maintain their high level of productivity and avoid any roadblocks. Empire Office is a family-owned business and many employees have been at the company for decades. So it wasn’t about trusting employees, but really understanding if anyone was struggling to work in their new office space under these challenging conditions.
Initially, Michael looked into the free Citrix utilities with ADM and Director, but neither gave an accurate report or data that depicted when or how individual workers were working or showed trends to see how work habits might be changing over time.
Michael started looking for a monitoring solution that would give accurate metrics to understand if their team was in fact working during their open Citrix sessions and for how long each day. He also wanted to see trends in user behavior while working from home. Did users change their hours of work due to circumstances, such as supporting the demands of homeschooling? It was important for HR to understand who might be struggling and ensure they had the right support and tools in place to be successful.
While researching solutions, Michael found Goliath Technologies. “I had seen references to Goliath on several Citrix forums highlighting its ability to deliver deep and broad metrics around the end-user experience within Citrix, and even had feedback from peers that it was the ultimate Citrix reporting tool,” said Michael. “At first I didn’t know if it had the right report I was looking for, but after some collaboration, we scoped the exact report I needed. It tracked the amount of time end users were active in their session and how much time they were inactive. This type of report fulfilled the mission management had set to better understand worker behavior. Goliath came to the rescue and answered all the questions we were asking.” No other end-user experience monitoring tools Michael looked at had just the right metrics to fulfill his need.
Goliath’s End-User Productivity Report provides Empire Office a percentage of time someone was inactive, but most importantly shows the maximum amount of inactivity time in any given session. Most of the time we see this being 45-60 minutes, most likely someone’s lunch break. But then we do see some trends where the same person is inactive for 3-4 hours on a regular basis. Now we know there is a problem going on.
Figure 1: Goliath’s End-User Productivity Reports track exactly how many hours an end user was interacting within their Citrix session and how much time they were inactive (i.e. not working). The report can be scheduled to run or executed on-demand and can be emailed, exported (PDF, CSV), or viewed directly within the Goliath interface.
Michael can now accurately report to the CEO and EVP of Administration the overall productivity of the team while working remotely. “The data has driven great conversations around our culture and work styles. We know we have great people, and now we have the data to understand who might need our help. We have the insights and visibility we never had before,” shared Michael. In many cases, Empire Office found productivity to be even higher than before, with many employees logging in earlier than before or working into the late hours of the night. “With metrics from Goliath, we learned there is no normal set of work hours when everyone is working from home. Some employees start their day later and work late in the evening. Others start even earlier, wrapping up their day sooner. Some just frankly work more hours.”
The other side benefit is while Goliath provides Empire Office the report they need to track end-user productivity, it is also helping them troubleshoot performance issues for their remote workers. With a limited team, the deep and broad metrics Goliath offers enable Empire Office’s team to quickly isolate root cause and determine if an issue is global, related to the Citrix infrastructure, or if it is isolated to a single user who happens to be using an old MacBook from 2001.
In a business that has predominantly worked in the office, COVID-19 has forced a new social experiment around what the future of work may look like for Empire Office and its employees. Now with data-driven insights, Empire can determine which teams may need to spend more time in the office and which jobs can be effectively done remotely. There are no commitments of what the future may hold, but Empire Office feels empowered with data to understand how their employees are working in these conditions and how they might be able to work in the future.