When it comes to frontline workers, mobility is a critical component of digital transformation. For years, shared, corporate-owned, single-use (COSU) devices like smartphones and tablets, mobile printers, virtual reality headsets, interactive kiosks, and digital signage have enabled businesses to optimize workflows and drive productivity. However, the recent health emergency, high employee turnover, and evolving worker demographics and expectations have forced organizations with frontline workers to redefine their digital strategy.
Today, industry leaders—particularly those in the retail sector—are taking their transformation efforts to new heights by embracing bring-your-own (BYO) and corporate-owned, personally-enabled (COPE) device initiatives.
Evolving Market and Worker Demands Present Challenges for Retailers
Amid the recent health emergency, the demand for digital interactions and engagements increased dramatically with employee and consumer health and safety concerns. Almost overnight, retail organizations saw exponential growth in online spending and e-commerce and were forced to accelerate adoption of digital tools and omnichannel capabilities to enable new customer experiences and ways of working, like in-store and curbside pickup and last-mile fulfillment or home delivery.
However, it’s challenging for retailers to quickly scale traditional, corporate-owned mobile deployments in a shifting market with supply chain concerns and the high costs associated with procurement and retraining existing workers. In addition to market disruption and changes in consumer behavior, the retail industry is experiencing a major shift in worker demographics. As tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z take over the workforce, retailers are struggling to provide associates with user-friendly work devices and tools, as well as adapt their workplace culture to attract and retain top talent.
BYO and COPE: A New Approach to Staying Competitive in Retail
For years, BYO and COPE have been synonymous with personally-owned smartphones and tablets and corporate-owned laptops used by corporate employees or knowledge workers. However, today’s industry leaders are thinking outside the box by extending BYO, COPE, or a combination of the two to their frontline workers to digitally differentiate and build long-term resiliency.
The mass adoption of smartphones is one of the key factors driving adoption of BYO and COPE in frontline use cases. According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, 85 percent of adults in the US own a smartphone—and they’re using it for more than just communication. Smartphones have become an extension of who we are and an essential part of our daily lives, including how we socialize, capture memories, consume news and entertainment, shop, bank, and more. Given the prevalence of personal devices, it should come as no surprise that the majority of shift-based frontline workers support BYO in the workplace. According to a study by WorkJam, 66 percent of retail employees said they would prefer to use their personal devices for work purposes. This is especially true when it comes to scheduling, communications, and training, which (in the same study) hourly workers cited as common pain points and the top contributing factors for seeking new employment.
By allowing workers to use their personal devices, retailers can immediately decrease training costs and quickly boost employee productivity, efficiency, and engagement. BYO also enables organizations to save on hardware and support costs and foster a positive workplace culture that attracts and retains top talent. For workers who don’t own a compatible device or aren’t comfortable using their personal device for work, companies can provide discounts on phones and service plans or equip workers with COPE devices. For example, Walmart, which has a longstanding BYO program, announced last summer that they plan to offer more than 740,000 associates a new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone, case, and protection plan (free of charge) to use while on and off the clock.
Support BYO and COPE for Store Associates with Workspace ONE
When it comes to BYO or COPE for frontline workers, it’s important organizations implement a digital workspace solution to maximize worker efficiency, productivity, and engagement. VMware Workspace ONE Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) is an intelligence-driven digital workspace platform with proven, large-scale BYO and COPE deployments across both knowledge and frontline worker use cases. With Workspace ONE, IT can provide a unified employee experience that enables workers to access corporate apps and resources simply and securely across any device, regardless of operating system, network, or location. Built on the Workspace ONE platform, VMware Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub is a single app that streamlines frontline worker communications and boosts productivity and collaboration with single sign-on (SSO) access to corporate resources, an app catalog, custom notifications, and self-service and support.
This year, we’re excited to announce we’re expanding our BYO and COPE capabilities, specifically for frontline worker use cases, with shift-based access control. This feature will enable IT to selectively restrict access to sensitive corporate content on devices (like task or inventory management apps) when employees aren’t on the clock. While off the clock, workers will still be able to use their BYO or COPE device to access non-work features and personal data, as well as non-sensitive corporate content (like HR and shift scheduling apps). Shift-based access control will be completely customizable and can be configured for any web, mobile, or software-as-a-service (SaaS) app, including Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub and Hub Services. With Workspace ONE’s multi-tenant architecture, IT will also be able to configure access by use case, worker role, or individual. Shift-based access control will be available within the Workspace ONE console through integrations with third-party workforce management providers offering time and attendance management solutions. The feature is planned to be available for Workspace ONE customers with experience workflows for Workspace ONE, powered by Boomi, in the first half of this year.
In its initial release, Workspace ONE will support shift-based access for WorkJam, with plans to support other workforce management solutions in subsequent releases. WorkJam is a digital workplace platform, specifically designed for companies with frontline workers, that combines task and open shift management, communication and learning tools, and more to increase worker productivity and reduce turnover and costs. Together, WorkJam and Workspace ONE enable retail organizations to deliver an anywhere workspace with the privacy and seamless digital experience workers expect and the security IT requires.
“I’ve met with so many retailers who love the idea of BYO or COPE but are hesitant to implement them because of security and privacy concerns,” said Ed Durbin, Director of VMware’s Global Retail Industry Group. “VMware and WorkJam enable retail organizations to overcome these challenges by delivering a seamless digital employee experience that offers the privacy workers demand and the data security IT requires. Together, Workspace ONE and WorkJam will help our customers stay competitive by accelerating the adoption of both BYO and COPE.”
Steven Kramer, President and CEO of WorkJam, said, “Retailers are recognizing that BYO and COPE are key to creating a positive workplace culture, but data security is a fundamental requirement and challenge. We’re thrilled about our new alliance with VMware, which will enable our joint customers to attract and retain top talent, reach higher revenues, and unleash innovation, while protecting their data with WorkJam and Workspace ONE.”
To learn more about Workspace ONE, visit vmware.com/solutions/empower-frontline-workers.html. To learn more about WorkJam and our partnership, check out WorkJam’s press release.