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Matching devices and equipment to hybrid working

Matching devices and equipment to hybrid working

An argument could be made that generic laptops with a baseline specification will meet the needs of most information workers and make light work of procurement. Hybrid working, however, has changed everything and organisations will need to think more strategically about their hardware purchases. It’s not just about enabling people to work seamlessly in and out of the office, it’s about mitigating a whole set of new risks.

Skills shortages have been exacerbated by the pandemic, with the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ reflecting how a restless workforce is prepared to move on and find jobs more suited to the way they want to live. Attracting and keeping talent is now a major challenge; expecting employees to make do with clunky old laptops will no longer cut it. The pressure is on to kit people out with laptops and peripherals that will help them do their jobs more effectively and give them a great experience.

Persona mapping for procurement

The best approach is to map employee personas to different devices; it’s not new, it’s just become more important. Understanding job roles and relevant applications is where it starts. CAD engineers, for example, are going to need high spec machines with bigger screens, maybe even a desktop rather than a laptop; salespeople will want lighter thinner devices, while on-the-road service teams will look for something more robust and durable. Then there’s the executives who prioritise portability and high performance; they’re looking at more executive-class devices.

With the advent of hybrid working, there is a need to dig down deeper, by grouping employee personas by workstyles. Although home working has blurred the lines, a broad categorisation of employees stills stands and is a useful way to think about devices:

  • Deskbound – works from a single location, office or home, usual in an administrative role.
  • Walkaround – works from multiple locations in and out the office, heavily reliant on tech like a professional services role or a creative.
  • Remote – works from a single location outside the office, a hired hand, often some kind of contractor.
  • Mobile – works anytime anywhere, could be a salesperson or a globe-trotting executive.

The ‘types’ are not prescriptive, and people will have their own preferences, it could be screen sizes, wide screen 16:9 or 3:2, or dual monitors for power users; they might need a bigger hard drive to store large databases, or more processing power and faster RAM for working with different media like video. The device and equipment strategy must be reimagined to suit various working styles.

Ergo is a partner with HP, Dell, Microsoft and Lenovo, and an Apple Authorised Reseller, so it’s safe to say we have every device option covered. If it helps people do their jobs productively and it’s practical from a procurement point of view, an element of choice should always be on the table. Gen Z will demand it; they’re coming into the workplace with high expectations around technology they have grown up with. They won’t want second best. It has also been found that Gen Z is more likely to say that they are struggling than their older counterparts with getting a word in during conference calls and meetings and so it is essential that devices are enabled with high quality camera and audio, to ensure that they feel heard and included in the conversation.

Ensuring a great user experience

Hybrid working comes with its own shopping list. A good camera and microphone are now obligatory because of video calls. And there are decisions to be made about doubling up mice, keyboards, screens, and printers, or investing in dockable workstations. Furniture is also part of it. There are multiple variations of hot desking in the office, kiosks and booking systems that accommodate employees coming and going, that all have to be considered as organisations devise working environments in and out of the office.

Giving end users a great experience is not just confined to the computer they use. Office meeting rooms will need hardware upgrades to ensure that whatever device the employee uses to access a video conference, the experience is optimised. No-one’s contribution can risk being diminished if they are not physically present around a table. As much as connecting ‘into’ the office is important, the office needs to be equipped to ‘connect out’, to ensure that remote workers feel included and not left out.  Microsoft Teams Room accessories, such as intelligent speakers and collaboration displays, means almost any space can be upgraded to a state-of-the-art teleconference centre.

Identifying equipment investments that will improve the remote working experiences is a big part of the hybrid challenge. IT services will also need to be aligned to the business in a way that supports the new ways of working. That means using remote monitoring solutions to ensure the environment is always optimised, not just in terms of devices but also around other components like collaboration services and security.

Device-as-a-Service options

Ergo offers a Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) option that manages the whole device lifecycle, from procurement to end-of-life recycling and disposal. Along the way the IT department is firmly in control, avoiding costly refresh cycles with different devices and support contracts. It saves them time while mitigating risks around rogue machines with out-of-date operating systems and unpatched vulnerabilities.

DaaS is a tactical way to optimise technology to enable better productivity while maintaining security, as opposed to more strategic moves like desktop and application virtualisation, where the end user device also almost becomes irrelevant – another of our six components covered in a separate blog.

There is a caveat with all desktop strategies. Whatever you choose to do, you might not be able to do it immediately. Post-pandemic supply chain delays and chip shortages have created waiting lists for computers – not to mention cars and video consoles – which make it hard to embark on major change immediately. Use the time to build persona profiles and align procurement decisions to new business needs.

Decisions on how hybrid working is implemented is still a live discussion in many organisations, with the precise way time is divided between home and office still to be decided. What’s clear, however, is that many employees will demand at least some element of flexibility. Being ready with a device and equipment strategy is critical.

Register now to join Ergo at the ‘Let’s Make Hybrid Work’ half-day event, where we discuss how to provide flexible working that’s great for employees and good for business. Begin your transition with us.

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