Managing devices in the workplace has certainly evolved over the years for IT professionals. Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, work environments were fairly simple — most people got up every day and headed to an office to work. But since 2020, things have changed significantly.
Without a doubt, the hybrid work model is popular among workers globally. Most of them (83%) prefer a hybrid approach, according to the Accenture Future of Work Study 2021, which surveyed more than 9,000 workers worldwide in early 2021. While there are several reasons why workers prefer a hybrid approach over working entirely onsite or remotely, some of the main reasons include better mental health, stronger work relationships and less burnout, the study revealed.
Workers aren’t alone in their optimistic view of the hybrid work model. C-Suite executives are in favor of a hybrid approach to work. In fact, 79% of C-Suite executives plan on implementing the hybrid work model for workers where on-site presence isn’t necessary, according to a Workplace Intelligence survey of 1,000 C-suite and 1,000 non-C-suite employees.
When most workers hear the term “hybrid work environment,” flexibility immediately comes to mind. They think about being able to work poolside and spending more time with their children — maybe even finding some time to walk the dog. But not everybody is optimistic about the hybrid approach.
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For IT professionals, the hybrid work model is a security concern — and the data already supports this viewpoint. Even though many leaders believe their data is secure in a hybrid work environment, 53% of employees reported up to six instances of lost productivity due to network access issues, according to a 2021 Entrust report, which surveyed 1,500 business leaders and 1,500 general employees from 10 countries.
The report also revealed additional security challenges typically associated with the hybrid work model, including home internet security (23%) and leakage of sensitive company data (21%). While the security challenges of the hybrid work environment are valid, they’re not going away anytime soon, as even IT professionals are aware of the growing support for hybrid work environments.
Even for IT professionals, denying the impact of the hybrid work model on corporate America is simply out of the question. Seventy-five percent of IT leaders believe that the future of work will be remote or hybrid, according to a 2020 report from security firm Tessian, which surveyed 250 IT decision makers and 2,000 working professionals. The hybrid work model is a reality IT professionals are forced to confront in 2022 and in the years to come.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid work environments for IT professionals. Businesses come in all different shapes and sizes, implement varying hybrid work policies and manage differing IT environments. What works for one business may not work for another. But all IT professionals in a hybrid world are up against the following — determining the best way to manage mobile devices for the hybrid workplace.
Mobile device management (MDM) in the hybrid workplace
The hybrid workplace may complicate things a bit for IT professionals; however, these challenges aren’t anything out of the ordinary for them. IT professionals are used to working in rapidly changing environments and dealing with uncertainty. They’ve also been following the change in user behavior over the past decade, which has changed drastically.
When it comes to mobile device management (MDM), a hybrid work model simply shifts the conversation from one type of security approach to another. Prior to the pandemic, many IT professionals focused on what’s known as perimeter-based thinking, where defending applications, devices and users inside the network is key. Over the past decade or so, many IT professionals learned the shortcomings of the perimeter-based approach (e.g., devices found their way outside the network) and adapted accordingly.
When managing mobile devices, IT professionals typically concentrate on enhancing security measures and policies while also addressing privacy. For example, there’s the continued focus on multi-factor authentication (MFA) for obvious reasons and the zero trust security model, where “never trust, always verify” is the basis of the zero trust network architecture (ZTA).
While a modern-day hybrid MDM solution is required to tackle many of the challenges in the hybrid workplace, it’s not the only thing IT professionals should consider.
It takes more than an MDM to manage the next generation of computers
Even though MDM solutions have evolved over the years, many MDM solutions still only provide the basics to IT professionals. The basic MDM solutions are typically good for establishing a self-service portal for end users, but they oftentimes fail to provide the security controls and other features necessary for businesses to thrive in a hybrid workplace.
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For instance, while straightforward device enrollment and deployment is critical to remote operations and identity management, that’s just the baseline of the level of support customers expect. IT professionals in today’s hybrid world must also have access to the following features: real-time visibility (from everything to battery performance to user activity for total security); control and access (to ensure that you can deploy patches, assist remote users, and monitor risks) and scalable maintenance (IT professionals shouldn’t be limited when scaling).
Any device management platform that cannot provide these expanded capabilities will not suffice as a tool to help IT admins properly manage and secure a hybrid workforce. IT professionals are facing an ever-evolving IT threat landscape and must have the best tools available to them.
But even with the right solutions, IT professionals should still pay close attention to the behaviors of their end users when managing mobile devices.
The devices end users are now using are changing
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated in the inevitable — the adoption of Apple devices in the workplace. Many end users during the pandemic relied on their personal devices, many of which were Apple. Today, as businesses move to the hybrid work model, many end users continue to use their Apple devices for work-related purposes — and that’s something Apple’s betting on.
Many users are underestimating Mac adoption and growth in the enterprise in 2022, even after the tech giant’s latest updates to its MacBook Pro line. Equipped with the new M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro performs exponentially faster than the Intel-based MacBook Pro, which many business users are still using today. The device also has a longer battery life, a higher-quality screen and additional ports. Apple basically took everything business users have been wanting to see in the MacBook Pro for years and delivered. Without a doubt, Apple has focused its efforts on business users.
That being said, whatever platform IT professionals use for managing mobile devices in the hybrid workplace, it must also be able to accommodate Apple devices. Ignoring them or preventing users from using them is no longer an option.
If anything, managing devices in the hybrid workplace is going to continue to evolve. Knowing how to manage Macs vs PCs, using the right solution, and understanding user behavior will put IT professionals ahead of their competitors.