After several months of lifestyle changes, extended time at home and drastically modified working routines, many of us might be excused for forgetting what life was like before the global Covid-19 pandemic emerged.
For those who were equipped to do so, home working has very much become the norm, and after hastily implementing contingencies for their workforce, businesses are seeing their users become increasingly accustomed to these adopted practices.
With lockdown measures beginning to ease, businesses are now faced with some big decisions around their strategy for a long-term return to work as part of the ‘new normal’.
For a select few, the return to work will mean a safe and socially-distant resumption of what went before, but for others this will see a real desire for increased levels of home working and reduced office use, driven by a workforce enjoying the freedoms of more flexible working.
In fact, recent research from Gartner suggests that nearly 50% of the workforce are likely to adopt remote working, at least on a part-time basis, for the foreseeable future, compared to around 30% before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Equally, business leaders have witnessed first-hand how their people can continue to be productive when away from the office, maximising the investments in new tools and technologies such as cloud-based applications, collaboration tools and video conferencing platforms.
This combined with new policies and procedures around workplace hygiene and safety may see that some businesses look to adopt remote working for the long-term, drastically reducing the numbers of office-based staff or even closing the doors completely.
To meet the immediacy of the remote working demands, many businesses prioritised practicality over protection, ensuring that their users had what they needed first, before considering whether this new technology was appropriate, as well as taking time to put additional management and security in place.
While this was fine for a short period, long-term adoption of remote working demands an assessment of your existing capabilities, as well as answering some important questions before implementing additional processes and tools.
Many businesses simply weren’t prepared for a fast shift to remote working, and as such needed to quickly provide additional hardware and implement new tools to support this. This may have been as simple as dishing out a collection of older, out-dated laptops to your team, purchasing multiple licenses for tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom, and even panic buying audio and visual hardware.
Now that the dust is settling, it’s important to take stock of those changes and make assessments over the suitability of these investments. Are they going to be suitable for the long-term, especially for those who are looking to continue working remotely for the future?
It might be that you feel the need to purchase additional, more appropriate technology for a selection of your users, roll-out a wider set of licenses on a preferred collaboration platform and implement more flexible solutions in areas such as telephony by adopting a cloud-based service.
When working remotely your people still need to be able to access your data as they would in the office, but this information needs to remain available to only those who need it.
It’s important to consider how your users are accessing your data, and what levels of identification and accessibility protocols are being enforced. Are confidential files still appropriately protected, and can every user access the key applications they need?
Implementing policy-based access is just one way to help prevent unwanted data sprawl, allowing you to retain a level of control of the files and applications that individual users are able to access without inhibiting their ability to work as normal.
With any remote working environment, it’s not always possible for your users to work from their corporate device. Changing home circumstances, fluctuating internet connections or even periods of travel or upheaval can see that your users attempt to work from a variety of different mobile devices.
To ensure ongoing security you need to understand which devices your users are operating with, and how they are accessing your data. It might be that you need to restrict access from certain suspicious devices, allow employees to enrol their devices to enable access, or limit access to corporate data to specific, business-managed applications protected by multi-factor authentication.
As you begin to make your plans for the new normal, we can help you make the right choices, using our relationships with a world-class collection of partners to deliver the right technology to your remote workers.
We also understand the importance of managing your remote workers and the role an appropriate mobile device management solution can play in the creation of a long-term remote working strategy.
Over the years we’ve amassed an extensive knowledge of the different solutions available such as Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security, the modular MDM platform that delivers comprehensive management, data protection and identity management controls for your entire workforce.
Through an initial consultation, we can understand the unique requirements of your organisation, and help to build out and implement a Microsoft EM+S, or alternative solution, to deliver the management, visibility and protection you desire.