As we enter this next phase of the pandemic many businesses are now having to review their working models. Employees have spent the last 18-months working in a very different way, in a new environment and are therefore demanding more flexibility. This means a shift to a hybrid working world.
A recent article from the BBC ‘Why the future for work might be hybrid’ pointed out that “A survey in May showed that 55% of US workers want a mixture of home and office working. In the UK, employers expect the proportion of regular home workers to double, from 18% pre-pandemic to 37% post-pandemic. In China, employment expert Alicia Tung has predicted that in 10 years, there will be a 60/40 split of onsite/remote work.”
This new hybrid working model has also been described as a ‘location-flexible arrangement’ and these post pandemics working patterns will mean that managing employees with different locations and working patterns is going to require excellent communication and organisational skills, as well as the right technology to support.
So, what support does your IT partner need to be giving you?
A consistent end user experience regardless of location
With colleagues wanting the flexibility of working remotely as well as in the office, from an IT perspective the challenge is to try to provide a consistent end user experience regardless of the geographical location.
Over the last 12-24 months there have been two popular answers to this challenge within our client base:
1. Mobile working using Laptops & MDM: Rather than the traditional PC office setup, many clients have moved to a laptop-based model with docking stations in the office and at home. Team members take the laptops with them and can use them in exactly the same way regardless of physical location – many clients have mirrored the office hardware at home, using the same screens with docking stations…
One challenge this creates for the IT team is that those mobile devices then become the perimeter of the corporate network. So, the security model needs to adapt to meet the needs of the mobile workforce. This can be achieved using more agent based rather than network-based solutions and an effective Mobile Device Management system.
2. Virtual Desktops – The second solution to this challenge that has been widely adopted in the last year has been the use of virtual desktops hosted in the cloud. A virtual desktop can be used regardless of physical location and keeps the experience consistent. Rather than processing running on the endpoint hardware, all of the processing and data is retained within a cloud environment that can be protected via Multi Factor Authentication. One great benefit of this approach is the scalability as additional users can be added quickly and efficiently to the platform.
We offer regular on-site support, depending on our client’s needs. Due to a change to a hybrid working model, we have recently doubled their on-site engineer resource, for one of our clients in New York. We can facilitate these types of changes because we work in close partnership with our clients.
For those businesses that haven’t been in the office for a long time, we are also able to visit them regularly and give them the correct on-site time needed to ensure that their new infrastructure is working as it should be and resolve any concerns quickly.
Based on these new requirements and what we are also learning as a business we are adapting to new BAU processes, quickly and efficiently.
Security and Mobile Device Management (MDM)
Security solutions for your business will differ based on the underlying technology used for example does your team use laptops or VDI. Whichever is being used it is critical to ensure that you have the same levels of security for employees when working remotely or in the office and that you have a single pain of glass to view all devices.
Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) has been the industry standard but now Mobile Device Management (MDM) is also deemed to be an essential tool within a hybrid working model. It allows the management of devices and users in a consistent and scalable way across all devices.
With MDM you can restrict the environment where an employee works and ensure that each device that is being used is compliant with company policies and procedures.
You can also remotely update systems and ensure that all devices are secure, with the latest patches, program updates and antivirus registers.
What To Expect Next?
How we all work is going to continue to evolve, but the last 18-months has accelerated some of that evolution and the hybrid working model is pushing the technology agenda further.
Employees are looking for more flexibility, which in turn means that our clients growth aspirations are changing and the need for the right IT partner to succeed. Partnering with the right Managed Service Provider has never been more important, particularly in the financial sector as highlighted in our recent blog Unique IT Support Requirements of Financial Service Businesses.
What works for some doesn’t work for all and so we pride ourselves on staying abreast of this changing environment and providing the industry knowledge that our clients need.