Yes, you can outsource hybrid workplace disruption

The Apple-in-the-enterprise space has begun to create opportunities for companies willing to look for smart answers to emerging pain points around the future of work.

Apple, WeWork, MDM, deployment, hybrid working

The ever effervescent Apple in the enterprise space is creating opportunities for companies looking to address the many challenges of the hybrid workplace.

Many businesses remain challenged as they try to come to terms with the complexity of handling remote teams. Those challenges aren’t just confined to selecting an appropriate MDM service and warning employees not to click on links from people they don’t know. The challenges span seemingly simple questions with not-always simple answers that take up time that could be better spent on other tasks.

For example:

  • What happens when an employee leaves a company? Whose job is it to ensure equipment is returned and services secured?
  • What about selecting and managing MDM? Who handles this task?
  • When onboarding new employees, how is the process handled? What about computer purchasing across national boundaries in some remote setups? MacPaw recently shared experience of this when putting its teams in place for business resilience as the invasion of Ukraine took place.
  • What is the best workflow for a distributed team? Who in your company has experience of asynchronous communications?
  • Is there a best practice for tech support for remote teams? How many days of downtime is acceptable when a computer breaks?
  • What about employer responsibility for employee welfare and building in cohesion across teams?

While larger organizations may have the human headcount to find solutions to all these challenges, smaller ones could find themselves a little swamped.

What usually happens, what should happen

There’s also the issue that resolving many of these time-consuming tasks often defaults to the highly paid tech support team. The effect is that high-cost, high-value employees end up spending valuable time dealing with relatively low-value, but essential, tasks. In addition to which, your IT expert isn’t necessarily a logistics expert with a deep knowledge of transnational customs regulations, which means resolving some elements of the challenge can take even longer.

Does this sound familiar to your business as it struggles with the need to transform so many internal operations in response to the changing future of work? It probably does, and this set of challenges is being repeated across tens of thousands of businesses across the planet.

Resolving this complexity is an opportunity — and some companies are already stepping up to the plate.

Take, for instance, Allwhere — a startup that hopes to help companies navigate this journey. I spoke with Chris Cashman, Head of Global IT & Security at the company, to get a sense of what’s on offer.

Cashman has held senior tech roles at Apple, Compass, Bird and WeWork, so he well knows about remote work and disruption. While at Bird, he faced challenges as the company opened new offices worldwide. (Cashman was in charge of provisioning, setup, and eventual recovery.)

He also saw first-hand as the world of work accelerated into new models, even pre-pandemic. “We had an office in LA that just wasn’t getting used, we had about 10 people there — it was a 350-person company.”

It turns out even larger companies are struggling with these challenges. “We’ve had a lot of really big companies — 10,000-20,000 seats — come to us saying they need to solve these problems,” Cashman said.

Apple is rapidly gaining share in the enterprise

He confirmed that his company is seeing a strong uptick in Apple deployments across many of its customers, in part because this is what employees want, and in part because of Apple’s continued work to improve the enterprise credentials of its devices.

“Apple really gets that and makes supporting hybrid working easy. It makes security compliance easy. It makes deploying easy. It just makes all those workflows very simple,” Cashman explained.

Apple’s achievement in putting together infrastructure to support zero-touch setup is incredibly significant, as it enables highly efficient hardware deployments, even with remote teams. “Microsoft is five years behind Apple on this," Cashman said.

Allwhere offers a range of services to support companies. It can handle device deployment, recovery, and support, and has put together packages of virtual employee benefits that help navigate the health and wellness challenges some companies face.

The company creates branded store-like solutions from which employees are served and supports the company’s existing IT departments by taking many of the challenges of handling hybrid deployment off their hands. It can handle everything from procurement to deployment and developing a good onboarding experience, including ordering office equipment or dealing with employee benefits.

The fact the company is inherently Apple friendly underscores the emerging opportunity that constitutes the new Apple enterprise.

It is also interesting, Cashman noted, that many of his customers are moving to resell devices once they reach EOL. That’s a change, as many companies didn’t do this in the past to save time and effort. But since that task can now be outsourced, they will.

Hybrid work is a communication challenge, so solve it

Cashman argues that companies need to create internal spaces in which remote and hybrid work can be managed effectively at the upper echelons of management. Presenteeism is out, communication and collaboration are in.

One solution for some of this is to gather documentation.

Writing effective notes, guides and troubleshooting FAQs that meet the unique needs of your company may take time, but these assets can provide help and support right across the enterprise and are just as useful to employees in different time zones. Guru can be a useful tool to create these, Cashman said.
“Having good workflows around minimizing downtime, getting people productive, and then having those async communication tools means that that no matter what time zone you're in, no matter where you are, you're getting information in your time and can then contribute and add value to that discussion," he said.

Companies must also develop good practices for asynchronous communication. Asynchronous project development tools, such as Notion and video messaging services such as Loom may help companies become resilient and productive across time zones.

But remote workers are lazy, right? Not at all.

“I think at the end of the day, jobs are about meeting goals. They shouldn’t be about slaving away to reach 40 hours,” said  Cashman. “I think we’re slowly moving away from the mindset that if you don’t work 40-plus hours a week you are not successful."

It will be about delivering quality work and meeting agreed project goals. “Employers will get what they pay for and will also not be burning their workers out.” And balance perhaps will be restored as we build a better future of work.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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