By: Michel Van Den Berg
Spotify and Slack, are just two of many large enterprises that had realised the benefits of working remotely since the pandemic, downsizing their offices and equipping their employees with the right technology to work more freely. As lockdown restrictions slowly begin to lift, according to the BBC, 43 out of the UK’s 50 largest employers said they would embrace a mix of home and office working, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week.
The new hybrid-working approach enables businesses to enjoy the many benefits of remote working while providing a balance of in-person contact so that employees can choose to work in the office, from home (WFH) or anywhere (WFA). However, there are four main considerations that businesses must address in order to successfully transition to this new way of working: employee inclusion, device flexibility, technology ecosystem management and data security.
Include employees in the technology decision-making process
Technology has an integral role to play in creating a positive employee experience. It can enhance the attraction, engagement, and retention of employees particularly if they are involved in the decision-making process. According to PWC, 78% of millennials believe having access to the technology they like at work makes them more effective. Similarly, generation Z’ers (born between 1995 and early 2000s) are digital natives who are entering the workplace and expecting the same modern technology apps and devices they use in their personal lives. It’s clear, device familiarity and choice is vital to employee productivity.
During the pandemic, businesses saw the benefits from employees using devices that they were already familiar with and have now begun to offer more choice in hardware, commonly referred to as an employee-choice program, as a way to meet their long-term needs. In doing so, businesses have taken the first step towards creating a better experience, helping employees to be more productive and boosting recruitment and retention efforts as they move into the new normal.
Create an employee-centric approach to flexibility
Once a business has decided to develop an employee-choice program, they must review the devices employees want to use and select a suitable technology management strategy that preserves the native device experience, while fulfilling enterprise requirements with access, security and management.
To create a positive experience from the get-go, businesses can set up communication and feedback mechanisms such as a focus group or survey to understand what employees want from their devices and how they are using them. The results will provide valuable insights into factors like employee sentiment, OS preference or adoption success of a new app. Over time, the survey could also serve as a measurement and benchmarking tool to help review and validate investments.
Not all employees will want to choose the same device and may wish to change their initial decision. As part of the choice program, businesses can include a return window for devices. For example, IBM, which has more than 100,000 self-selected Macs deployed to its employees, offers staff a 60-day return policy to give them more freedom to trial and commit to their device.
Employees are increasingly selecting popular consumer-friendly devices such as Apple’s iPhone, Mac and iPad, for business use because of their intuitive, user-friendly features and enhanced enterprise capabilities. Apple’s MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, with the newly released M1 processor, deliver performance and productivity gains that make them perfect for the enterprise and according to Strategy Analytics, there are now 235,000 business apps available in Apple’s App Store.
Once an employee has chosen their device, IT, HR and marketing can work together to create a user-friendly portal and push notifications to let employees know when their new device is ready, when they may be receiving the latest updates and information on their next device selection. For added inspiration, the portal could host learner videos on hacks and productivity tips using macOS or other operating systems. These small steps to enhance the user experience will go a long way for overall success.
In the hybrid-working world, some employees will be working permanently outside of the company walls and others commuting into the office at different times of the week, making it challenging for IT teams to deploy, manage and secure the employees’ preferred hardware easily and efficiently without contact. Apple Business Manager can integrate with an Apple Enterprise Management platform, like Jamf, to make volume purchasing of apps, device enrolment, provisioning, deployment and security simpler and zero-touch for businesses.
Manage the native experience
Employees have chosen a device for a reason. Whether it’s a long-lasting battery, great apps, fantastic camera performance or an intuitive user interface, businesses need to find a way to keep that coveted native experience at the heart of their management strategy.
IT teams can use an Apple Enterprise Management platform that seamlessly integrates with an ecosystem’s native deployment program to find more ways to roll out and provision devices. For example, businesses can create a positive and personalised experience when an employee receives and unboxes a new device. To avoid opening the box before the employee, IT can simply integrate with the deployment program and automate enrolment and configuration, over-the-air. The device will arrive, preinstalled with all the apps and tools that the employee specifically needs to be productive.
Deliver a safe hybrid-working environment
In 2020, the pandemic and remote working brought an explosion of cybercrime incidents as businesses quickly moved to online services to stay afloat. Many businesses rushed to digitise their services and equip staff with technology but during the process, missed the usual thorough review of security protocols. This created a new playground for cybercriminals.
The more sophisticated cybercriminals used the pandemic as an advantage to attack businesses for patient records and data. For example, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a fivefold increase in cyberattacks in late April 2020. Other cybercriminals targeted businesses through the back door: outdated and unpatched software.
Businesses have a moral duty to protect their employees from malicious cyberattacks as much as their data. The consequences could be dire: loss of revenue, employee and customer trust, reputational damage, fines and even jail sentences.
Businesses must deliver a high-level of security to ensure employees and all data are protected. By using Jamf, organisations can review and utilise native built-in apps to detect specific threats, prevent known malware, speed up incident response times and actively monitor for compliance. Whether the employee is working from home or in the office, IT can rollout software, patch updates and the latest operating systems via the cloud as soon as it’s released.
Making hybrid-working a success
Businesses can adopt new hybrid-working approaches and continue their digital transformation journeys by creating positive experiences in which employees have more choice and flexibility. This means providing employees with the devices they want to deliver their best work and carefully managing and securing their technology ecosystem with an integrated Apple Enterprise Management platform to enable them to truly flourish in the new normal.
About the author:
The author is VP and General Manager EMEIA, Jamf.