As companies hope to open their office doors to their workers again, a change around the office is likely to be seen due to the temporary shift many made in 2020 at the height of the global public health crisis. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020, 61% of the overall workforce went remote, according to a study done by Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD). Now that employers have been able to observe the productivity results of a hybrid workforce and employees have felt the benefits of it, it is estimated that 25% of the workforce will continue as either fully or part-time (hybrid) remote, according to the same SWZD study.
In order to support their hybrid workforce, companies are looking to improve upon their IT infrastructure so that workers have the tools they need to operate out of the office. Besides improving their existing IT systems, companies are recognizing the importance of considering how new tech solutions that other departments need will be able to support a remote workforce. In their study, SWZD polled organizations with a flexible work policy on what technologies they planned to buy to better their remote workforce. A breakdown is given in the graph below.
The graph compares what solutions companies already have and what they plan to add within the next 2 years. We can see that 63% report already using a collaboration solution, and an additional 10% plan to adopt one soon. While the study does not break down what specific collaboration solution is being used, it is likely that Microsoft Teams is the leading choice, given that it has recently become Microsoft’s fastest-growing application ever. In a previous post, I talked about how Teams has everything you need for a dynamic team workspace.
Remote Workforce Security Tech
Sixteen percent of companies polled are in need of security solutions to protect their remote workforce. Microsoft 365 services already come with best-in-class security solutions built into them. This includes features like Defender for Office 365 (formerly Advanced Threat Protection) to protect Exchange Online mailboxes from phishing attacks, amongst many other methods used by cybercriminals. Another feature designed to help protect your cloud-hosted data from being intentionally or accidentally shared in a malicious way is Data Loss Prevention (DLP). This feature utilizes AI to control how sensitive data across all of the Microsoft 365 services can be accessed and shared. Using the built-in Secure Score feature, you can get an at-a-glance insight into how well your Microsoft 365 environment is configured and suggestions on what else you can do to optimize your security settings.
Virtual Desktop Environment
Another top need reported is a virtual desktop environment. Unless an existing cloud server infrastructure is in place that just needs a Remote Desktop Server implemented into it, it is worth considering Microsoft’s new Windows 365 offering to accommodate this need. With Windows 365, Microsoft maintains the backend environment for you and gives you a nice interface to quickly deploy and scale new virtual desktops. You can choose from virtual desktop builds that already have Microsoft apps pre-installed or utilize Microsoft Intune to automate the deployment of additional apps.
If you aren’t looking for a virtual desktop environment, but need a solution for remotely deploying new physical PCs, then Windows Autopilot is your answer. SWZD’s survey found that 27% of organizations are more likely to hire non-local talent. With Autopilot, you have the ability to dropship new PC’s directly from your vendor to your employees as the service automates the entire PC deployment process after the device is unboxed. All the employee has to do is power on the device, connect it to the internet, and enter their credentials. From their Autopilot will apply all of your pre-configured Windows settings and install any necessary apps on the fly.
It’s clear that Microsoft had foreseen a remote workforce becoming more and more common far ahead of 2020, which makes them the best suited to provide a tech solution for all of the hurdles your IT team may encounter when gearing up your organization to be able to provide the modern workplace that today’s workforce expects.