Rev up the DeLorean and tap the flux capacitor, it’s time to head back to the Workspace of the Future. In my previous blog post, Workspace of the Future, I talked about how I believe people will get access to their apps, data, tasks, and tools – all presented in a personalized flow using password-less, multi-factor authentication via biometrics and displayed from their organization’s “work portal.” In this blog, I want to address the devices they will use in their environment, which apps they will access, and where they will work from.
We’ve gone back to the future – it is 2030 again. Most employees now work regularly from home – only heading into the office occasionally to meet up for critical meetings. Working from home not only gives employees a higher degree of flexibility, but also supports the strong worldwide eco drive. Employees no longer have a corporate device to connect to their organization, instead they use a device they have chosen and purchased themselves. The employee slips on their augmented reality (AR) glasses which automatically adjusts to their vision. The AR glasses use its user’s smart watch, as the hub for connectivity and compute power (gone are the days of carrying a bulky smartphone around with you). The glasses and smart watch use multi factor authentication with biometrics for password-less logon to the employee’s organization portal app. The portal app is managed by the employee’s organization and is their secure gateway into the organization’s environment. The app gives them access to all their corporate apps, data, self-service, self-help, and workspace services. Much as they have their choice of physical device to connect into their organization’s environment, the employee also has their choice of productivity and collaboration apps from whichever vendor they prefer which due to agreed standards, all connect seamlessly together. The employee launches his productivity app and collaboration app of choice which loads into a simulated wrap around display (much like the one you may have seen Tom Cruise use in the movie Minority Report). Now they are ready to work.
Working from anywhere
Now let’s return to 2020. Current worldwide events have focused the minds of business leaders on working flexibility. Until recently, this was not a high priority for most organizations – but the current pandemic changed that. It’s now important to allow employees the flexibility of working from anywhere while ensuring the security of the organization and its intellectual property. Data suggests that where an organization’s employees that have moved from working in the office to working from home, they have seen an increase in productivity. This has resulted in many organizations deciding that even after the current pandemic is over, they will continue to allow their employees to work from home at least part of the time (as demonstrated by the Gartner research shown below). It also helps protects the organization from any future events where employees may need to work from home again.
Moving an organization’s office from dedicated desks to a smarter, smaller “hot desk” environment where employees pick an empty desk to work from when they are in the office also provides the opportunity to reduce an organization’s real-estate holdings. The result is happier employees while organizations save money.
BYOD (bring your own device)
Today’s employees represent multiple generations with diverse technical skill sets and differing needs. Letting your employees bring their own devices (commonly referred to as BYOD – bring your own device) helps address these needs and because of this is increasingly becoming the norm across many organizations.
Reasons to institute a BYOD policy
- Familiarity: Employees are already familiar with their own equipment which means there’s no learning curve discovering how to use them.
- Creativity: Employees typically choose the equipment that inspires them, enhancing their creativity.
- Productivity: Your employees typically carry their devices around with them (e.g., their smartphone). If, while they have their breakfast or lunch they respond to a few emails, that’s time and money saved for the organization.
- New technology: Employees tend to regularly update their own devices. This helps the organization access up-to-date technology and helps keep up with the latest trends.
Things to consider when implementing a secure BYOD policy
- Implement a mobile device/content management protocol to ringfence the company data from personal data.
- Set up a virtual app or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to provide access to business-critical applications inside the organization’s secure network.
- Use secure cloud storage (e.g., Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive) with the right controls in place to ensure the organization’s data is protected.
- Require strong security, passwords (or biometrics), time-out locking, anti-virus, and protective software policies, and set up protocols for reporting a lost or stolen device.
- Provide transparency about company access and monitoring of employee devices. When an employee leaves the company or transfers to another department, ensure there are no surprises about what does and doesn’t get removed from the employee’s device.
- Before allowing access to the company data, be sure all parties, including management and IT, are clear on the policies and rules.
So, what about productivity software? Productivity software is software used for producing business information such as documents, presentations, worksheets, databases, etc. Today, in most organizations business leaders choose a vendor such as Microsoft or Google and provide their employees with that vendor’s productivity software. But as with devices, today’s employees represent multiple generations with diverse technical skill sets and differing needs, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. How you get to be productive depends a lot on who you are, how you process information, as well as the particulars of your work and personal life. Some employees will have grown up using Google’s G-Suite while others prefer Microsoft’s Office, Apple’s iWork, or other productivity software. Why not let them choose the software that fits their needs – the software they prefer?
The battle for talent
There are multiple factors involved in attracting talent, but the working environment is an important factor. Choice of where and how employees work is an important part of this as choice makes people happy. If someone were to tell you which holiday you had to book, or which car you had to purchase or even which mobile phone you had to buy there is a very good chance you’d end up with something you didn’t want – perhaps even disliked. Why should your work experience be any different? Business leaders and HR are increasingly realizing that if they want to attract and retain top talent, they must give employees choice: where they work from, which devices they use and which software they use to do their work.
Companies such as Capgemini are also tackling the work environment eco challenges with strategies such as expanding its “new ways of working” initiative reducing the need for business travel and commuting, introducing new programs including the roll out of a hybrid and electric car fleet, and engaging with suppliers to reduce the carbon impact of its supply chain. Capgemini will also switch to 100% renewable electricity across the Group.
With the right infrastructure and policies in place an organization can meet the challenging eco needs while keeping itself secure. The more flexible your employees, the better they can maintain the organization’s competitive edge. While there are security considerations to be made, a solid BYOD policy can not only save your organization time and money, it can make for a happier and more dependable workforce.