Posted on August 21, 2019
Estimated reading time 7 minutes
A Secure Modern Workplace – your roadmap to respond, recover and reimagine
This article was originally published on 21/08/2019 and updated on 11/08/2020
We’re going to indulge in a little ‘before and after’ story in this week’s blog post. Humour us and let’s think back to 6+ months ago, and our attitudes, opinions, and facts around the topic. And then, think about the Now, as businesses have returned to the office, or not. The insights have shifted, as have the attitudes, and businesses have radically adjusted to leverage technology which to be honest was always there. Well, perhaps not always, but it has been there for quite a while!
Before, when remote work was the exception, not the rule, telecommuting became virtual work, which later turned into remote work and working from home. Field-based sales and service staff were at the forefront of the trend but were thought to be isolated while out of the office and less productive as a result.
At that time, surveys such as that collated by Owl Labs showed that employees who worked from home were 24% more likely to feel happy and productive at work, and the primary reason employees gave for working from home was better focus and increased productivity.
The same surveys also revealed that companies that allow remote work experience 25% less employee turnover than companies that do not allow remote work, and 69% of millennials will trade other work benefits for flexible workspace options. As we know, things have changed.
Businesses who enabled remote working before offered it as a benefit. Not only did they have the ability to pivot to the new normal with minimal adjustments, but they had a workforce that knew how to work from home. With the new normal, remote work became a necessity overnight, and the strategy to thrive was an all-remote, remote-first, cloud-first strategy. The research published right now is centred around productivity, as organisations seek to understand in more detail what it is that everyone is doing, and whether business activity continues the same as before. Productivity is measured, businesses have visibility into meetings and activity and we now know that the remote working week is on average 48 minutes longer.
A few questions arise after all that we have learned in the last 6 months.
How can you provide your staff with the tools to be productive when they’re working from home, and ensure security remains intact, or – ideally – enhanced?
How can you get visibility into productivity, the level of collaboration and performance within your organisation? What is the impact on IT spend?
Now that we see that the trend is intact or enhanced productivity, and we observe that seasonal fluctuations have been completely rewritten (deleted even, hello staycations and ‘always-working’) is the next wave the security breach wave? We know that cyberattacks have increased in volume and sophistication, and cybercrime leverages the emotive painpoint that is everything associated with the pandemic.
How does your remote team present a united front when it comes to protecting you from breaches, thwarting attempted phishing emails, and more? Have they been trained to identify new attacks?
So it seems timely to revisit an old favourite with the basics in productivity and mobile-first working. We hope you find it useful, especially if it has been business unusual for you.
The Modern Desktop
It’s no longer acceptable to simply provide a mobile phone and a laptop for those who regularly work away from the office, because the modern desktop needs to:
- Provide the latest productivity tools
- Enable users to be productive (work) wherever they need to
- Keep your data in a secure, protected state
- Be deployed and managed in a simple manner to minimize overheads
- Always be up-to-date with the latest security upgrades etc.
Microsoft describes a ‘Modern Desktop’ as a Windows 10 device that runs Office 365 apps and is managed by Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security. The modern desktop is always up to date and uses enterprise-level security powered by the cloud. A modern desktop improves productivity and security for users and streamlines work for IT professionals.
Enabling Secure Collaboration for Remote Workers
In today’s workplace, no employee is an island. Individual success often hinges on each person’s ability to work with others in an effective and productive way.
Team members need to collaborate with one another on office documents, share information about projects, and perhaps collaborate in real time with partners, vendors, and customers, and work together in a central, secure location and achieve a common goal.
Many entrepreneurs have built their business on what is now considered outdated hardware and software, and we know it’s hard to part with the IT that helped make your business what it is today, but is your technology enabling your business to grow and succeed or is it holding your business back?
“You can’t compete in the new world if your IT’s stuck in the old world”
Although Windows 10 has become the most widely used operating system, Windows 7 is being used on around 35% of desktops despite support for the 10-year old platform being discontinued in six months’ time (January 2020). This means Microsoft will no longer provide updates, including security patches, potentially leaving your systems vulnerable to malicious attacks.
The question is … How can you transform your business, and experience the productivity gains enabled by the modern desktop, unless you embrace the digital transformation?
Deploying the modern desktop needs to be viewed as part of a broader strategy to transform your entire business. It’s not just a digital transformation but a transformation in the way you do business, including taking small steps towards embracing the benefits of Cloud technology.
So ask yourself …
Without this transformation and its foundation of secure collaboration, how will you prevent unsecured file sharing? Without a centralized hub for file sharing internally and externally, team members might use unsanctioned apps, creating the potential for security vulnerabilities. They might use an outdated contract template, for example, or a document missing final adjustments.
A number of other key concerns can be addressed as part of a planned business transformation programme, including:
- Trying to manage multiple logins and difficulty sharing information
- Outdated tools leading to security and compliance risk
- Protecting business and customer data
- Version control issues and email overload
- Confusing technology usage leading to complex support and fragile, unreliable systems
Microsoft 365 – Cost-Effectively Delivering Productivity, Security and Transformation
To enable your business transformation, Microsoft has provided a straight-forward upgrade path with Microsoft 365, a key component of the Modern Desktop experience.
Microsoft 365 is a complete, intelligent solution that includes Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, which incorporates the new tools your teams need for productive, collaborative, secure working while overcoming the security issues with Windows 7.
Enterprise Mobility + Security allows a company to retain control and ensure security, even though employees may work from home, on their own devices. It allows you to manage mobile devices and apps and protect information.
Built for Secure Collaboration
Microsoft 365 enables teamwork and collaboration through intuitive tools that allow you to work together in real time. OneDrive for Business and SharePoint in Microsoft 365 provide shared storage, document version controls, and permission settings to enable multiple users to seamlessly edit the same document.
OneDrive is a cloud storage service that allows you to store all your important files securely in one place and then access them virtually anywhere. It works just like a traditional hard drive, but it’s on the internet. Thanks to its cross-device and cross-platform design, you can create a file on your computer, and pick up where you left off on your laptop, tablet or phone without having to save a copy on a USB drive or email the file to yourself. OneDrive allows users to share and sync files across Android, Windows Phone and iOS mobile devices, Windows and macOS computers, and Xbox consoles. Also, OneDrive makes it easy to share content with other people and collaborate in real-time using its Office 365 integration. Files On-Demand is another great feature that lets you access files without having to download them first (saving a lot of local storage), and because data is stored in the cloud, it also works as a data recovery mechanism if your device breaks or gets stolen.
With SharePoint you can create communication sites that are designed to publish curated news, important announcements, stories and resources to employees, regardless of their device or location.
- The trend towards more remote working is resulting in happier and more productive staff.
- Providing just a mobile phone and a laptop limits collaboration, jeopardises the security of your data and can make remote workers feel isolated.
- The collaboration tools you need for productive remote workers are included in Microsoft 365, an upgrade path for organisations already using Windows 7 and Office 365 (and other systems).
- Upgrading to Microsoft 365 allows you to start benefiting from the Cloud and addresses the security risk when Windows 7 support is discontinued in 6 months’ time,
- OneDrive for Business is included with Microsoft 365 and provides secure collaboration and file access for your users, wherever they are and whatever device they’re using.
Benefits of Microsoft 365:
- Easy to access information
- Improved communication
- Enhanced ease of mobility
- Intelligent, built-in security
- Easy access to key performance metrics
Contact our experienced consultants to find out how Microsoft 365, OneDrive and SharePoint can provide your remote users with the innovative productivity tools and secure collaboration.