In light of recent events over the last few months, home working has become a much more crucial consideration for all companies. Business must ensure that staff are fully equipped to be able to work productively from their homes.
Mobliciti focused on this topic for a recent Virtual Breakfast Briefing, held in conjunction with Microsoft. The main areas of discussion were:
The Current Landscape
The main focus at the moment has been the response to COVID-19, the way people worked change overnight and IT teams had to adapt and fast. Therefore, a lot of tactical work was put to one side to focus on ensuring that staff were able to continue doing business as usual. Fundamentally, IT rose to the pressure and managed to get everyone up and running.
An element of this process was simply best endeavours, but the outcome was that people were working and this itself was a massive achievement for all involved. People are now looking at the opportunities which have arisen from this situation as there has been a dramatic shift in terms of the way IT is perceived and the whole home working scenario.
Collaboration tools have truly come into their own during this crisis, prior to COVID-19, collaboration tools in the workplace were beginning to pick up popularity and it was agreed that they could be of massive benefit to a business. All that was required for these tools to really take off, was a forced situation and now we are seeing that companies and users have embraced them because quite simply, they need them.
One of the benefits of this situation, it that, for the first time the whereabouts of all users is known and when it comes to delivering a project, this is a surprising and welcome opportunity. Now is the ideal time to deploy new devices as staff aren’t travelling but are in a static location.
The phase of “the new normal” is beginning to resonate and discussions are being around how do we adapt to where things will be in the future. How can we predict what’s going to happen? The most obvious thing is that home working will be part of any business’ strategy moving forward.
There are a number of core components that make up home working, these include a suite of technologies and services but fundamentally at the heart of it is the device.
This device tends to be portable, as staff need it to be easily transportable so they can work from anywhere. One such device is the Microsoft Surface; it’s a great example of hardware users truly want. It not only looks smart from the user’s perspective but it’s easily deployed and managed from a business view.
However, working full time on a small device isn’t ideal as a permanent working solution and so you need additional kit to support this including monitors, keyboards, mice, headsets and webcams.
In addition to the setup, you’ve also got the home network now being used for work and there are challenges from a business perspective around the traditional architecture that sits behind the IT infrastructure. As well as the challenges of VPN’s being under increased pressure due to the uptake of people using video communication tools.
Whilst everyone generally blames the network, it has become apparent that there is a distinct lack of visibility in terms of how to support something when it goes wrong within the home office. It’s manageable when supporting a few users working from home but now you have the entire workforce all needing to be supported on differing home office setups. How do you stay in control?
Prior to COVID-19, there was a perception that in a disaster recovery scenario, there was a set of applications required to simply keep the lights on. This has now all changed; people need access to everything, and this is where the Cloud and specifically the power Microsoft 365 can help to power and enable users.
Security is another area which needs to be carefully considered when managing home workers. When securing a cloud environment, the architecture is fundamentally different so considerations need to be made around applying security to both the cloud services that staff consume and also the network as well as the device and the endpoint that sits on the network.
The traditional home network setup in people’s houses is usually based around a router that was provided by their internet service provider. The kit is of varying ages and the network is designed to serve a variety of devices, including 4K TV and game consoles, both of which take up a large amount of capacity. When working from home, laptops are connecting into an already congested home network and so the signal can be unreliable.
What is apparent is that with a shared network there is no way of knowing how throttling capabilities work on the device and so the connection is not always stable.
Mobliciti’s homeConnect is simple, it provides an independent network specifically for work. The user is provided with their own router and dedicated antenna for their situation. The connection is also proactively monitored, thus providing that all-important consistent network experience specifically and only for work traffic.
The Out of the Box Surface Journey
When it comes to using Microsoft Cloud to deliver Surface to your users, you can do so to provide a seamless experience direct to users wherever they are based.
In terms of a simple secure experience for users, it provides a great out-of-the-box experience but crucially is it removes the need for a back-to-base type build model that is often a bit of an issue in terms of logistics, especially in these current times.
Below you can see a recording of a real-world experience an end-user goes through when receiving their brand-new out-of-the-box surface device combined with Microsoft 365. The whole process only takes around 22 minutes, and there’s no requirement for any pre-imaging.
Core features of Autopilot
To begin with, the user simply sets their language and logs in with their corporate login details, during the process, autopilot will take care of prepping the device and applying the applications and security standards.
Once this is complete, the user can then see the applications which have already been installed including Internet Explorer and OneDrive For Business.
A predefined suite of tools can also be included as additional applications for the user to download, they simply open the company portal and self-service the installation.
The hard drive is encrypted using BitLocker and Windows Defender is running and aligned to the business’ standards, along with the firewall rules enabled.
Blocks can also be automatically put into place, such as the prevention of personal accounts being added to the device, i.e. personal OneDrive
The user can log into their personal email using a web browser, but they are not allowed to send any corporate documents via that. This block also applies when using OneDrive web and attempting to transfer corporate documents that way.
In terms of great user experience, policies can be delivered to age out data that’s not been accessed in a while and keep the hard drive from filling up from any documents that may be synced.
The demo provided has been developed using Windows 10 Enterprise as part of the Microsoft 365 SKU. All elements of the video used Microsoft technologies with Surface with no third-party tools thus removing the need for traditional Windows image management, reducing procurement times and deployment, and importantly delivering great secure user experience.
Surface as a Service
By combining Microsoft and the power of Surface, you can enhance the home office and provide a user experience like no other, Mobliciti can help you to realise this potential.
With Surface as a Service, we can deliver fully configured and personalised devices to you users, ready to start using in just 20 minutes.
Get in touch to find out how we can help.