The big three challenges IT teams face to make anywhere working a reality

Posted on 05/07/2021 by vmwareemeasmt

Kristine Dahl Steidel, Vice President EUC EMEA, VMware

For most office workers worldwide, the ability to be able to work from anywhere has been revolutionary in the past 18 months. But rewind the clock, and the idea of this new working model being adopted long-term was just another water-cooler conversation between employees who dreamed of shorter commutes, better work-life balance, and an end to presenteeism – now, it has become a reality.

In the main, this forced change in working practices has been a success, but as we move from the short-term ‘band-aid’ IT fixes of the last year to longer term solutions, companies need to be able to support a more permanent distributed, ‘anywhere working’ model.

The hybrid approach may be gaining ground, but what challenges do IT teams face? Let’s explore three of the top challenges in more detail.

Creating frictionless employee experiences

The scramble to enable remote working was all about one thing – access. Overnight, IT teams had to ensure employees could access the right applications and data to do their jobs. However, many IT teams built these processes on siloed, on-premise management tools unsuitable for the anywhere workforce – and a year on, many employees are struggling with disconnected experiences across mobile and PCs.

Moving forward, IT teams need to ensure their workforce can enjoy equal experiences across whatever mobile or desktop device they are using. Reliable connection is also key; poor experiences with VPNs can kill productivity.

The focus has to be on removing this digital friction – to boost connection and productivity, and improve employee experience and day-to-day wellbeing. Frictionless experiences depend on investment into a hybrid architecture, to offer high-quality, more continuous experiences – and crucially, offering employees a choice of devices. The future workforce means offering multi-modal work experiences so they really can work from anywhere.

From fragmented security to zero trust

The rise in remote working in 2020 coincided with 80% of organisations experiencing cyberattacks – and it’s easy to see why. Overnight remote working meant taking trusted devices out of the protective ‘bubble’ of the office network. Within this bubble, employees could safely access applications inside the data centre. But outside it, meant moving endpoints and applications to a distributed edge where they became more vulnerable to potential attackers.

Now, IT has to manage an increasingly bigger attack surface as users, endpoints and applications have spread across existing networks. Current traditional tools are no longer ineffective, and organisations need something stronger – enter zero trust.

The zero-trust approach works by refusing to trust anything either inside or outside an organisation’s network before verification, removing the broad level of unscrutinised access that comes with a traditional network. But for this to be effective, IT teams must build security in from the start rather than bolting it on. This means building intrinsic security into everything – the application, network, anything that carries data – right from the get-go. 

Simplifying operational complexity

The sudden move to remote work meant companies urgently invested in tools and applications that would help with collaboration and productivity. At the time, these offered quick fixes to allow employees to do their job. But integration can be difficult, and a year on, many IT teams have found themselves with a complex mix of tools and siloed teams.

Tackling this web of tools requires streamlining the group down to those that have been the most effective, while ensuring the organisation has a broad enough variety of platforms to both cover any holes in the employee experience and support the growing future anywhere workforce.

The emphasis is on scalable solutions. If the initial solutions brought in to enable working from home can’t scale, distributed workers could be plagued with productivity-sapping availability issues while IT becomes overwhelmed. Here’s where automation is also useful – giving time back to IT teams so they can empower the anywhere workforce.

Final thoughts

Change isn’t just about infrastructure or experiences – it’s also about mindset. The pandemic has forced change at a rate that many didn’t think possible, but to make IT investments successful long-term also means removing traditional biases around remote working and recognising that work is what you do, not where you do it.

We’re starting to see the cracks appear from the ‘band-aid solutions’ put in place to temporarily solve challenges last year – and these are now presenting opportunities for CIOs and their teams to establish a digital-first investment strategy for the future.

Employees have become comfortable with flexible working and the realisation that they don’t need to move to work for a certain company. If they wish to compete for market share, talent and recognition, organisations will need to invest now for what is a foregone conclusion – that anywhere working is here to stay.

Want to find out more about how to best enable your anywhere workforce? Discover our anywhere workspace solutions.


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