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Navigating Hybrid Workplace Challenges with MDM

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By Sriram Kakarala, Vice President of Products, Scalefusion

Disruptions often lead to challenges and those challenges lead to exploring possibilities and making things happen. Before December 2020, hardly any job postings mentioned remote, office, or hybrid work. Three years later, while some organizations have adopted complete work-from-home and some are back to ‘business as usual, everybody in office’, many have gone hybrid—coalescing work-from-home and office.

Sriram Kakarala

The type of work, role in the team, and reporting structures are decisive parameters for employers to determine whether a particular employee can be given the liberty to work remotely or not. But that is not applicable to chefs, pilots, mechanics, or any workplace teams that need to interact and coordinate regularly. This is where and why organizations are going the hybrid way, giving employees the best of both worlds.

Growing Acceptance of Hybrid

Hybrid work culture is a middle ground of sorts that’s gaining acceptance. Like it or not, makes sense or not, hybrid is here to stay. An Accenture study toward the end of 2021 tells us that 83% across the globe prefer the hybrid work model. The same study also tells us that merely 26% of CEOs are ready to embrace this love for a hybrid with a holistic approach to syncing where, when, and how employees work. It’s clear that the other 74% are either worried or skeptical, but definitely not future-ready yet.

Hybrid work offers employees the flexibility they have always craved for. They can be around their family while working, play with their pets during breaks, take power naps, or even take their kid to the doctor and log back. Many can even have their TV sets on to follow sports or play music in their home theaters.

It goes without saying that a hybrid work model has its own challenges. Addressing aspects like team bonding and motivation or the lack of them is subjective. Managing devices is imperative. When everything happened from the office, mobile device management or MDM still existed across industries. With hybrid, MDM is now a must-have in your tech stack.

Here’s a look into your hybrid workplace roadblocks and how an MDM solution can help you navigate through those with ease.

Security: The Biggest Concern

Conventional days of work from the office meant that everyone was accessing intranet or office Wi-Fi/broadband. IT teams were only concerned about organizational network security. Maintaining in-office network security that didn’t go beyond set perimeters was never an uphill task. There were desktops that were easily controlled and shared with specific user log-in and log-out credentials. Things were smooth and safe for most.

Enter a global health disruption of epic proportions, and all of a sudden, IT teams were losing their sleep over device security concerns. That’s when organizations started to contemplate digital transformation solutions like MDM. MDM went on from being an option limited for large-sized organizations or organizations that had a largely distributed workforce, to being an absolute necessity for businesses of all sizes and belonging to all industries.

In a hybrid mode, employees make the switch between office networks and external networks regularly. External networks could be an employee’s broadband at home or Wi-Fi in a speakeasy cafe or lounge. Security dangers loom large when devices access networks that your IT can’t control. Now, that’s alright. But IT admins need to control and manage corporate devices, not the network these devices access. MDM to the rescue! An MDM solution allows IT to control all the devices from a unified dashboard. MDM helps IT admins gain total authority over corporate devices, eliminating security risks. MDM lets you enable multifactor authentication (MFA) and zero-trust architecture (ZTA) for higher device and network security.

All OSs Covered

Work from the office meant that device and OS uniformity was maintained across organizations (which was most likely, good old, desktops). Hundreds of Windows desktops with multiple user sign-ins ran on-premise, so updates or patch management wasn’t as daunting.

IT admins of organizations that are now running on hybrid models need to monitor a wider range of devices. An employee may be logging in from a Mac, while another using the latest Windows 11 laptop. The heterogeneous nature of devices means patch management can be extremely tedious and time-consuming for IT teams. An MDM solution offers the ability to provision and manage an inventory across all OS and device types.

Productive Employees

It’s obvious why the hybrid and work-from-home models are being cherished globally. Many managers will look into the cons but there are pros in plenty. Hybrid work offers employees an extra yard of comfort in terms of strict timings. Gone are the ‘in at sharp 10 am’ days! In those cases, employees were ‘out at sharp 7 pm’. Once an employee has left the office premises on Friday evening, it’s very difficult to tick off unfinished tasks till Monday. And if you still want it to be done, the only option is to have a working Saturday, which most work-life balance warriors will frown upon. The work flexibility that a hybrid model offers has been a game-changer for many organizations.

The flipside of the hybrid model flexibility is that managers are concerned about how employees will spend their time on devices. What if someone spends the whole day streaming the latest shows and movies on OTT platforms using a corporate device? What if someone starts moonlighting or sharing data stored on corporate devices with friends via email using an external browser? Very risky proposition, isn’t it?

Enter MDM.

MDM helps IT teams have a firm grip on the way corporate devices are used by employees when they are at home. You can choose which apps to run and which ones to block. This ensures that there’s no device misuse. When you take out the scope of time-wasting, employees using corporate devices at home would then use these devices only for work-related apps, enhancing their productivity.

Implementing BYOD

In a hybrid work scenario, employees using one or more personal devices for work is inevitable. It could be due to the lack of accessibility of a corporate-owned device, or just a personal preference to choose and use the device they own and love, organizations can no longer ignore BYOD. With an MDM, you can let employees use their personal devices when at home and their respective desktops on days when they are at the office.

Some employees may be cynical about allowing their IT admins to manage their personal devices. After all, nobody would want IT admins checking their browsing history or photo gallery. Having a BYOD policy in your MDM can be useful and cost-effective for a hybrid workplace.

Separate work and personal groups can be created on an employee device once it is enrolled into the BYOD policy. Work apps and data are all stored in the work group. IT admins do not have any access authority over personal groups. They can only keep a tab on work groups and can control the security settings of the data stored within the work apps.

MDM: The Right Fit for Hybrid

MDM and the hybrid work model are truly made for each other. An apt MDM solution helps IT admins navigate the hybrid work challenges to a nicety. For organizations of all sizes who are keen on being future-ready to be a sustainable hybrid workplace, MDM is the way to do so.

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