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Chromebooks give Germany's Viessmann new freedom to secure remote work

November 17, 2020
Alexander Pöllmann

Head of Workplace Technology at Viessmann

Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Alexander Pöllmann, Head of Workplace Technology at Viessmann, a Germany-based manufacturing company providing climate solutions. Following its adoption of Google Workspace and Chrome Browser in 2017, Viessmann added Chromebooks last year, aiming to roll out 3,000 Chrome devices by 2022.

By 2019, our company was already well on the road to working in the cloud as much as possible. From our company headquarters in Allendorf, Germany, and in 74 other countries, our 12,300 employees were using Google Workspace and Chrome Browser from every device. We saw an opportunity to move ahead and give employees more flexibility in where and how they worked. Last year, we started to replace old hardware with HP Chromebooks. By reducing our dependence on thin clients and rolling out Chromebooks, people can work from any desk or office, as well as from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we evolved to working in Google Workspace, we realized that our thin-client environment was holding us back from collaborating and communicating in a new way with our colleagues. But over time, more and more of the applications we used daily had moved to the browser—in some cases, through Citrix, such as our SAP client. If employees didn’t need to be tied to software and networks to do their jobs, we had a chance to slim down hardware budgets, reduce IT administration, and free workers from their desks. Chromebooks are the device that helps us spread this strategy throughout the company. About 800 HP Chromebooks have been rolled out to employees in Germany, and another 200 in several other countries. By 2022, we expect to have more than 3,000 Chromebooks company-wide.

Employees tell us that Chromebooks are easier to use. They start up in seconds. The battery life is much longer compared to other notebooks. A Chromebook gets me through a full 10-hour day of meetings; with other devices, I’d have to plug them in during lunch. There are fewer settings for people to worry about on Chromebooks, which means there are fewer ways for people to make mistakes. 

Our Workplace Technology Team managed the first batch of Chromebooks by enrolling them in Chrome Enterprise Upgrade, with help from Cloudwürdig, our Google partner. We talked about the policies we’d set, added them to the Admin console, and that was it—we haven’t needed to change them since. Chromebooks logins are easy—employees use their Google logins even to authenticate on Citrix or VPN.

It’s also much easier to maintain Chromebooks compared to other operating systems. We don’t worry about loading antivirus software on Chromebooks themselves, and we don’t have to patch and update them, since Chrome OS updates automatically. The Chrome Enterprise platform gives us everything we need to manage Viessmann’s Chromebooks, but with less administrative work.

Our new way of working enabled us to send people home over just one weekend as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Instead of a highly technical infrastructure setup, all we had to do was send people home with Google Workspace, Chrome Browser, and Chromebooks. The only remaining task was to create great training resources for our employees to easily understand how to use their new tools. If this had happened a few years ago, it would have taken much longer to equip employees with remote access.

Over the past year, we’ve used Chrome Enterprise to give employees more freedom. They don’t have to think about which network to access, or how to access it. They’ll be able to log into any Chromebook. Our Workplace Technology Team has freedom from the software and hardware maintenance we used to do. In the future, as we begin returning to Viessmann offices around the world, we think Chrome will continue to drive a new way of working in our company.

To hear more, join us and Viessmann at Power Up 2020 on 26 November as we rethink technology for the future, together. Register today.

Auf der Power Up 2020 am 26. November werden wir gemeinsam mit Viessmann über neue Ansätze für die Technologie der Zukunft nachdenken. Heute registrieren.

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