Written by Chris Lorigan, Portfolio Product Manager, Microsoft UK
When the working world split between those who could work from home and those who could not, frontline services went through a transformation. Frontline workers—the associates at the forefront of your customer interactions, the clinicians delivering patient care; police officers tackling crime on the frontline and those staff running operations on the ground—have often been underserved by technology but are now becoming part of the same “future of work” conversation as information workers.
Empowering Frontline Workers
Organisations are looking for new ways in which to empower frontline workers, granting them the right tools to execute on-the-ground decisions. By providing the latest technologies, frontline workers can be given the flexibility they need to adjust to the new day-to-day realities of a hybrid world.
During the COVID-19 remote working experiment of the past year, the role of technology in connecting people and enabling collaboration became immediately clear. As we face a more uncertain economic recovery, many organisations are taking a long, hard look at their IT budgets, choosing to converge technology requirements, where possible, to reduce costs. From a hardware perspective, having a device that’s mobile, powerful and portable, all in one body is vital for workforces on the go.
Making Device Decisions
Examining hardware requirements now will serve organisations well, as recent research has found that the majority of UK workers have not changed their work device during the pandemic – with this posing a major problem for staff. The Device Decisions report finds that 66% of employees with a work-related, company-owned laptop or tablet have been using the same device since the onset of COVID-19. This figure rises to 71% for frontline workers. The findings raise concerns that the lack of device refreshes is hitting productivity, as more than a third (35%) of employees who did receive new devices since the onset of COVID-19 reported a resulting increase in their productivity. For frontline workers who have navigated this period, getting by with their existing device, now is the time to bring them up to speed with technology that is suited to our new working environments.
Protection from Cybersecurity Threats
There are security considerations to be mindful of here too, with 64% of organisations experiencing one or more endpoint attacks that compromise data or IT infrastructure. Over half of cybersecurity professionals have said their organisations are ill prepared for thwarting major threats because their endpoint security solutions are not effective at detecting advanced attacks. Security teams are facing an urgent need to modernise endpoint security methods – one device equals one endpoint to break, bringing an added advantage to device consolidation. For organisations that have thousands of staff working on the frontline – as well as those choosing to work remotely – the defence perimeter has expanded rapidly. For frontline workers dealing with particularly sensitive information, including police and health care workers, this is a vital consideration.
Keeping workers connected, supported and safe
The bottom line is that workers need to feel connected to their organisation, with secure, flexible solutions that support the unique ways they work, and the right knowledge to execute on-the-ground decisions—especially for the hybrid world. Otherwise, businesses risk gaps in critical communication that may undermine the ability of frontline workers to meet the always-changing needs of the business. It is important that all employees under an organisation, from information workers to frontline workers, feel valued and empowered with the right tools to do their job. When working in a safe, productive and supportive work environment, they perform better. And when your workers perform better, your whole business performs better.