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How businesses are optimising the everywhere workplace

How businesses are optimising the everywhere workplace

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Employers must prepare for the everywhere workplace to keep businesses running smoothly. Helen Masters, VP of International Sales, Ivanti, explains how companies need to optimise IT to enhance remote working and to satisfy their employees expectations of the technology they use at work.

Remote work used to be an occasional perk provided by a small number of companies. Now, it has become an everyday reality for nearly every organisation globally due to the pandemic. According to Gartner, over 80% of company leaders worldwide plan to let employees work remotely from now on, at least part of the time. But don’t mistake setting users up with a laptop at home as a job well done. Companies must go further.

This pivotal change in working patterns is forcing organisations to look at IT differently. What was workable when most employees were in the office is suboptimal when they are at home. To keep business running smoothly, IT departments must optimise their enterprise IT. They must prepare for the ‘everywhere workplace’.

At the centre of the everywhere workplace lies a profound shift in the user experience. Research from the Workforce Institute found that employees are unsatisfied with the technology they use at work.

Employees are used to fast, seamless interfaces from social media networks and other consumer services and are dismayed when enterprise applications fail to keep up. Nearly half (48%) of all employees wish their workplace technology performed more like what they use at home.

That’s why savvy companies are waking up to the challenge. Ivanti’s recent survey of CISOs found that over half (58%) consider an enhanced user experience for remote employees a top priority post-pandemic.

It’s a new world. Be brave.

The pandemic also diminished the old perimeter model that defined IT security. In the past, enterprise computing infrastructures were created from the inside out. From now on, they will be designed with both the office and remote locations in mind, with access from users, devices and networks scrutinised.

Many companies adapting to the everywhere workplace will be providing access to applications and data in the cloud for the first time. Even those with prior cloud experience are likely to find themselves migrating more workloads there as they optimise workflows for remote employees.

Companies must optimise IT to cope with this new remote work environment, ensuring that only trusted users, devices and networks can access company data. That means making security ubiquitous, without impacting productivity.
It’s essential to implement a Zero Trust framework, which takes a ‘never trust, always verify’ approach, to secure remote workers without compromising productivity or user experience.

Mobile will be at the centre of this optimisation. Smartphones and tablets, which were once executive-level luxuries in the workplace, are now the primary means of accessing workplace resources. And most people have more than one of them.

IT staff should arm themselves with the ability to look at contextual attributes, such as where employees are connecting from, which device they are using, whether that device is secure, etc. For example, if an employee logs in from London and then tries to log in from New York or Singapore directly after, that should raise the alarm. By consistently examining key security attributes collected from the user and device, companies can establish a Zero Trust framework and further optimise IT.

Companies should review their current capabilities and where they can improve across four stages:

Discovery

Remote work creates a distributed approach that needs a dynamic style of management. However, if we don’t know what we are managing, it becomes hugely complex to even start.

An effective discovery process will allow an organisation to understand the context of the device and apply the right management policies at the right time.

Discovery is an on-going process. Without a continuous discovery motion, then what is perceived to be known, soon becomes unknown. IT teams must know 100% of their infrastructure at all times.

Management

As more devices start to appear at the edge (remote), the context of the device is critical. Examples include the type of device, interaction it has with the infrastructure and its location. Understanding what a device is and how it interacts is important when applying a comprehensive management approach to ensure device health and vulnerability patching are up-to-date for the best possible user experience.

Security

From there, the next step is to secure the endpoints and the resources that they access.

The age of password-only access is over. Poor password hygiene is one of the top causes of data breaches – 88% of all data breaches are caused by an employee mistake. In fact, our research found 80% of CISOs agree that passwords are no longer an effective means of protecting business data and seven in ten CISOs plan to increase investment in biometric authentication technologies.

It’s time to use robust security tools, including multi-factor authentication, to prove the user’s identity.When the user is verified, IT must authenticate them to access resources using up-to-date access policies based on the context of the user and device.

Service

Then comes the final part of the value chain: The back-end applications/processes that provide the services. Companies must build application/processes that adapt to users’ needs and refine them as business conditions change.

Today, companies are challenged to provide line of business services that live up to employee expectations. Applications/processes drive everything, from day-to-day IT service management requests through to checking vacation time and benefits. Applications/processes that hinder rather than help due to poor interface design or complex, disjointed processes can sap both productivity and morale.

In a survey of over 1,600 employees, technology marketplace, G2, found that over half of all employees were unhappy at work because of the applications they were using. Just under one in four people surveyed said that poor back-end processes made them consider leaving their jobs, and one in eight actually went through with it.

Automation is key

When reviewing current capabilities and ensuring security measures are future-proofed for the everywhere workplace, automation is key. Comprehensive AI platforms can automate these four stages, spotting and mitigating issues before they become an issue. With automation, complexity within the IT environment is reduced alongside unplanned outages that can lead to user frustration and dips in productivity.

The right automation platform will go beyond keeping systems healthy. It can also augment a company’s most important assets – its people. By taking care of repetitive manual tasks, automation enables employees to refocus their time on fundamental business issues.

As we emerge from the pandemic, remote working will continue. The everywhere workplace is here and companies need to be prepared to secure employees, devices and critical business data in a way that doesn’t impact productivity and user experience. The answer is implementing a Zero Trust framework driven by automation. Adopting this approach ensures IT departments can discover, manage, secure and service all the devices, applications and networks that employees will use each day in the new everywhere workplace.

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