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Guest Blogger

by Mark Hillary

This is an extract from my new book ‘WFH: Securing The Future For Your Organization.’ The book was published at the end of April this year and was written with Andrew McNeile, the Chief Customer Officer of Irish secure technology company ThinScale.

This extract is from chapter 14, titled ‘WFH Is Going Mainstream, But Will Companies Also Explore BYOD?’

Mark wrote an article in 2020 about working from home and how the contact center suppliers and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies might manage the need for new technology equipment in the home. The main point was that it cannot possibly be economic to keep on supplying thousands of laptops – surely these companies will need to explore a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) business model eventually.

When Mark wrote that, we were still in the midst of the Covid pandemic and there was no sign of a vaccine. Since the various vaccine approvals started in December 2020 the situation has changed because there is now some light at the end of the tunnel. Although it may take most of 2021 to get the world vaccinated, at least we are not staring into the abyss of an incurable virus any longer.

But we have not seen any appetite from employers or employees to return to the standard operating model of 2019 – commuting five days a week to an office.

Take a look at the enormous insurance company Aviva. They employ over 16,000 people in the UK. Their approach may be typical of many companies that employ professionals who can easily perform the same tasks at home. The company had two offices in York, now one is closing. The three offices in Norwich will become one soon, focusing their office presence in the city center.

Aviva is acknowledging that their team worked at home successfully during the pandemic so they will now enable a much more flexible working environment where employees can work at home or from an office – therefore the total office estate can be dramatically reduced.

New research in the US suggests that only 11% of companies are planning to return to employees working full-time in an office. A survey by consulting firm PwC came to a similar conclusion, stating: “Executives and employees [are] converging around a post-pandemic future with a lot more flexibility, yet few are prepared to completely abandon the office space. The majority of companies are developing hybrid offerings in which people work from home some days and in their offices on other days.” The same story is repeated in India, where employees of Deloitte now need to book a desk using a company app if they intend to visit the office.

The conclusion we are reaching here is that professional employees that perform their work on a laptop, contrasted with employees that need to perform a specific task like stacking shelves or dog-walking, are permanently going to expect working from home as a standard part of their contact. Imagine being the boss that insists on your team attending the office every day when 9 out of 10 companies are offering flexibility.

This issue is developing far beyond the contact centers we have talked about earlier in this book. Deloitte has 330,000 employees. PwC has 276,000 employees. Accenture has just over half a million employees. In chapter nine, we calculated the cost of supporting around 5,000 laptops as over $2m a year. It was not exact and there are plenty of variables, but the bottom line is that it is a lot.

We picked on these three companies just to illustrate the issue. They all employ intelligent professionals who will be doing their audit or consulting work on a laptop from their own office, a client’s office, or their home. After the pandemic we expect that every company with this type of profile will be offering employees the ability to work from home.

The issue is not just the process of working from home, but the cost that surrounds this. What is the economic cost to your business of a running a device shipment service? What is the cost to the environment of procuring, shipping, recovering, reimaging, reshipping, and so on, over a 3 to 5 year cycle? Then you still need to dispose of the device. How can any company that builds a strategy like this also make claims about their contribution to fighting the climate crisis?

In many cases, companies are just using web access to their services so we really get the worst of all worlds. An expensive shipped device (to ensure security) with no actual level of improved security achieved.

So this issue about managing laptops is about to explode. Which major company will start exploring BYOD at scale? Their only alternative is to pass on these costs to their customers and we are sure their rivals will be happy to start undercutting their rates.

Many companies coped throughout 2020, but that was all. They continued to function, but were extremely vulnerable to security threats. The appetite for tolerating this threat has dramatically declined so you now need to find a dependable strategy that will allow BYOD to safely continue into the 2020s.

‘WFH: Securing The Future For Your Organization’ is available in paperback and Kindle formats. If you want to order from a local bookstore, rather than using the link to Amazon, then just ask them to obtain a copy using this ISBN 979-8731678957.

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