Making the Modern Workplace Work
A look at collaborative solutions to deal with the IT complexities of the Modern Workplace.
Our tried and tested workplace models have been tested over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has pressed organizations around the globe to reconsider their approach to managing people, spaces, and technology.
For knowledge workers, hybrid working is now the norm. This newfound ability to work remotely seems to have helped boost productivity, improved work-life balance, and given employees more control over how they work.
Nearly 3 out of 4 businesses in Canada have seen a 20% or more increase in productivity. 1 Employees love it so much that 75% say that maintaining flexibility in work location and work hours will directly influence whether they will stay at their job.2
While it has removed some barriers to collaboration, like all change, the transition to the Modern Workplace has not been without its challenges.
The influx of information and new technology and a distributed workforce has made everything from modernizing infrastructure, security, management, configuration and delivery of devices, and deployments more complex.
Luckily, these problems can be easily solved with the right collaborative solutions.
Something as simple as employees using apps to collaborate with coworkers that IT has not approved can be problematic. These apps are not always built with security in mind and can present an enormous risk to your organization.
Add to that the complexities of a distributed workforce that connects to your network from airports and coffee shops, multiple devices per worker to secure, and technology that seems to evolve faster than enterprise can keep up.
Products like Azure Active Directory, a security and access management solution, make it possible to protect end-users from 99.9 percent of cybersecurity attacks with the ability to remotely control single sign-on, multifactor authentication, and conditional access.3
A thorough evaluation of your security posture using Zero Trust assessments is highly recommended for those transitioning to a remote or hybrid work environment.
IT teams now have far less visibility into people’s tech issues when working remotely, making it harder to troubleshoot and solve them. Needless to say, the Modern Workplace needs modern management tools.
Cloud-based solutions like Microsoft Endpoint Manager combine a whole range of tools like Microsoft Intune, Configuration Manager, Desktop Analytics, co-management, and Windows Autopilot to manage and monitor all your end-user devices.
Windows 11 and Windows 365 also help solve some of these challenges by providing an innovative and efficient operating system, mission-critical enterprise-grade security tools, and seamlessly integrated workplace productivity apps.
They provide IT professionals with greater control to customize features and apps, manage and secure devices remotely, and deliver virtual desktops. They also make it easier to roll out updates, so you save time and money.
This is important as 50% of IT managers say they spend too much time managing devices, with 14% of IT personnel’s time going to device management.4
For even more support, next-generation managed IT services providers like ExactlyIT, a Converge Company, offer a white-glove experience through total operational transparency, flexible agreements, and a focus on driving business value through IT services.
These services can provide more capability to your end-users, and free up your IT team to focus on more innovative ventures.
Traditionally, deploying business devices required that an image be created and copied onto each device, one by one. For this to happen, the device had to be in the hands of IT employees before being delivered to each employee and installed for them.
This time-consuming process becomes even more complex when employees work remotely and are spread out across a city, a country, or even the world.
To address this, brands like Microsoft and VMware have pioneered zero-touch deployments. Equipped with a combined Microsoft software and hardware solution, including Autopilot, imaging, and enrollment can all be done remotely on Surface devices and any device with a Windows operating system. This makes them ready to use as soon as it is taken out of the box.
Some of the many benefits include the ability for employees to get set up faster and a lower total cost of device and software ownership.
According to some studies, Autopilot reduced the process of configuring devices by an average of 25 minutes per device. Application provisioning time was reduced by 2.6 hours per application request. Device security and customization times were reduced by 2.5 hours per device.5
Before worrying about the deployment, management, and security, all those devices must be procured and delivered to the end-user. If options for Microsoft Surface Zero-Touch deployments are not available, they also must be configured.
Purchasing a PC, tablet, or phone may seem easy. However, buying thousands of devices and delivering them to as many remote workers requires a little logistical know-how. It can also be very labour intensive and put a significant burden on your in-house IT team.
That is where companies like ours shine. Millions of devices have already been configured at our state-of-the-art assembly facility in Ottawa. We have also navigated complex deliveries, ranging from mass deliveries to busy downtown locations to hand-delivering devices to the homes of tens of thousands of workers.
Also, devices break ALL THE TIME! Being able to replace them quickly is key to keeping productivity up. That’s why we offer device replacements in under 24-hours.
Organizations that have resisted and still have policies in place against remote work, now have to accept that the transition to the Modern Workplace is inevitable.
A hybrid-cloud strategy is more important than ever for many reasons. Managing on-premises infrastructure continues to be a costly activity. Workers increasingly expect to have a seamless experience with the ability to collaborate in a rich and responsive way. Also, data security demands are growing exponentially.
Infrastructure is a key factor in any organization and many things can be overlooked, which could lead to costing more money and more time if not done well.
With extensive knowledge of related OEM products such as Microsoft Azure Hybrid Cloud and VMware Horizon, Converge offers solutions that can bridge the on-premises-to-cloud gap and provide organizations with the flexibility to scale up or down quickly.
How Converge Can Help
Making the switch to a remote or hybrid workplace model can be complicated. We have the expertise and solution model to make your migration easy.
Contact us for access to:
- Comprehensive cybersecurity solutions, including Zero-trust assessments
- Support with IT management, including managed solutions
- Deployment services, including Zero Touch deployments
- Logistical support for the large-scale purchase, configuration, and delivery of devices, including the full range of Microsoft Surface products
- Digital workplace solutions that span the whole of your IT infrastructure
Want to learn more? Sign up for a Modern Workplace Workshop, by Converge and Microsoft experts, at the Northern Micro offices in Ottawa.
Learn more about Converge Modern Workplace solutions.
Digital Workplace: What is the Modern Workplace?
Defining the modern workplace, what it means for workers and the IT implications.
Remember when going to work meant braving traffic to congregate with dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of people under one roof for 8 hours, five days a week.
It can still mean that nowadays. However, for many going to work looks more like sitting at the dining room table wearing a clean shirt and pajama bottoms, firing up the laptop, and shooting a quick “Hello!” to coworkers via Teams to signal that you are on the clock.
Welcome to the Modern Workplace, a concept for which we began hearing the benefits long before the start of the pandemic.
So, what is the Modern Workplace? What does it mean for workers? What are the IT implications?
Here is some of what we learned over the past two years as Converge helped millions of workers across North America make the transition while we made it too.
What the Modern Workplace Is
We view the Modern Workplace as a thoughtfully planned IT ecosystem that allows employees to connect, collaborate, create, and contribute safely and seamlessly from anywhere, at any time.
It is a vision that we have been developing for many years as we heard about how remote or hybrid environments can transform how we work.
Here is what the top OEMs in this space were saying before 2020:
- Microsoft Surface described it as an “intuitive approach” that simplifies “device lifecycle management, software upgrades, and IT needs.” 1
- According to Lenovo, it promises a “significant reduction in the portion of an organization’s technology budgets used to maintain legacy IT systems.” 2
- Dell emphasizes the impact on productivity and how it can provide “a crucial competitive edge when multiplied across an entire workforce.” 3
What It Means for Workers
Working remotely can represent freedom, flexibility, security, and better work-life balance. So much so that 56% of employees have reported an increase in their levels of happiness. 4
At the same time, it has forced workers to take on more responsibility than ever regarding cybersecurity, connectivity, and setting up their devices. Not all are tech-savvy.
Even with these additional responsibilities, employees still prefer a hybrid or remote work environment. In fact, 80% said that when faced with two similar employment offers, they would turn down the one that didn’t offer flexible work. 5
Plus, new technological advances are helping make the Modern Workplace anything but an isolating experience.
The IT implications
As with all digital transformation, transitioning to the Modern Workplace fast has kept many in the IT industry up at night.
- How do you secure thousands of devices connecting to your network from who knows where?
- Is your existing digital infrastructure built to support the modern workplace?
- How do you manage software, apps, data, and devices remotely?
- What are the logistical considerations involved with purchasing, configuring, and delivering devices to a distributed workforce?
- How do you manage deployments to all those devices without the need to physically touch them?
Each day we help hundreds of clients work through these concerns and others across the IT framework that makes up the Modern Workplace.
Whether planned or not, the transition to remote and hybrid work environments has proven beneficial for so many. The Modern Workplace is here to stay.
Tales of spending hours in traffic to get to work may be our generation’s version of “walking a kilometer, uphill in the snow, to and from school.” Our children may have a hard time imagining what that could have been like.
So, what’s keeping you up at night?
Get started on the next phase of your digital transformation.
Register for a Converge Modern Workplace Workshop and visit the Converge Innovation Centre in Ottawa.
A New Converge Solution Takes Telework Even Further
By Eric Ledi, Microsoft Specialist
Despite its downsides, the pandemic has forced us to evolve and adapt to new ways of doing things. The most innovative and progress-driven companies aren’t speculating whether telework will continue, but rather, how the technological transition will occur in the longer term? Which technologies and applications will become the new standard of tomorrow, and which innovations will take user experience and work productivity even further?
It only takes me about 45 seconds to get to my’ workplace’ in the morning – a much shorter commute than when working at the office. Not surprisingly, maybe my employer has remarked several times on my team’s increased productivity during the pandemic. For me as a young father, this new lifestyle suits me perfectly. It offers me greater flexibility, adaptability, and, as a result, I have a much better work-life balance and improved physical and mental health. Companies opting to continue teleworking after COVID like mine will experience several advantages.
Here are a few facts from published studies:
- Reduced employee turnover up to 12%(1)
- Increased productivity and efficiency due to team collaboration and mobility
- Decreased operating costs estimated at $11,000/employee (buildings, office expenses, electricity, maintenance, etc.)(2)
- Higher level of employee commitment to the company’s mission in return for respecting their lifestyle and a more flexible schedule
- More attractive to new employees, especially young talent
The evolution of telework – Current priorities
- Comfort and ergonomics – Adapting the physical work environment to each person’s needs.
- Speed – Accelerating deployment of new devices and services in the field.
- Performance – Providing more modern, robust, and reliable computers equipped with the latest technologies optimized for videoconferencing.
- Connectivity – The need to be constantly connected to online services.
- Security – Reinforcing enterprise service and data security; securing sensitive information and document sharing to better control access to information.
- Simplicity – Simplifying authentication, managing multiple passwords, connecting to desktop services, establishing standardized system configurations.
- Versatility – Understanding that each employee uses a wide range of Windows, Legacy, Web, and Cloud applications and wants to use one device for personal and professional purposes.
- Management – Centralizing control and support and automating workstation updates.
A new generation of workstation solutions
Converge developed a commercial offer for businesses, a line of solutions that simplify workstation management more than ever. Joining forces with Microsoft and VMware, we leveraged our team’s expertise and our Configuration Center to develop this new line of business solutions.
- Modern workspace: This is a solution for companies who want to equip their employees with powerful and reliable devices for teleworking chosen from the Microsoft Surface portfolio. According to the client’s norms and standards, workstations are well equipped, configured, and standardized at our Configuration Center. Workstations arrive at employee’s doorstep ready for rapid deployment.
- Connected workspace: This second solution focuses on connectivity, security reinforcement, and interconnected applications and services from the Microsoft 365 platform. MS Surface devices are prepared at our Configuration Center, delivered directly to users, and deployed in the field thanks to the Microsoft Autopilot(3) tool for a Zero-Touch® deployment experience (out-of-box experience). Surface devices are managed centrally through Microsoft Intune(4), and users managed through Microsoft Azure(5).
- Virtual workspace: Our third solution transforms a personal computer into a virtual workspace. This solution combines MS Surface computers as the access station, Microsoft software solutions, and MS365 connected services, with VMware Horizon allowing for desktop virtualization (VDI infrastructure). In this mode, users connect remotely to their virtual, secured work environments that reside in their preferred data center or directly on MS Azure Cloud. This solution allows workers to centralize the management of applications, data, and security in all environments while moving to the Cloud, making it possible to access a completely virtual environment, anywhere, anytime.
Why the Microsoft Surface line of products?
What struck us while assessing the various available technologies was that the Surface line had been designed in all respects to allow greater productivity and versatility for users. In turn, it integrates several critical security and management functionalities to facilitate your IT team’s work.
- Product versatility: Surface devices have up to three use modes (PC, tablet, and studio). They can also be configured in kiosk mode. The devices manage your personal and professional profiles separately.
- Connectivity: These devices allow simplified, high-performance connectivity to stay continually connected to available networks.
- Collaboration and videoconferencing: The Surface product line is equipped with high-quality HD Web cameras, studio-quality microphones, and Dolby® Atmos™ speakers for a better online meeting experience. Naturally, it integrates with the Teams platform and other Microsoft 365 collaboration tools and services.
- Simplified authentication: This allows you to quickly connect, based on your profile, to all your applications, services, and data using Windows Hello.
- All-day battery life: Surface devices are equipped with a battery boasting 15 hours of life and fast-charging ability.
- Microsoft Autopilot: Surface devices offer Zero-touch deployment with no software configuration required.
- Replacement warranty: A complete offering of additional warranties (3, 4 or 5 years) provides companies with ultra-rapid device replacement service in case of failure anywhere in the world.
We have attached a study by Forrester/TEI that confirms our assessment of the Surface line with Microsoft 365 to improve employee productivity and collaboration.
How can Converge help?
Converge would like to propose an exploratory meeting to discuss your current situation and challenges. If this is of interest, you can take advantage of a 30- to 45‑day demo program to test the solution and confirm your choice of device. One of our Microsoft Surface Technical Specialists will guide you through this process and be available if you need assistance and support.
Please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to support you.
Microsoft Technical Specialist
Converge Technology Solutions Corp.
1 – Remote Working Statistics 2021: 15 Exciting Trends (https://remotebliss.com/remote-working-statistics-and-trends/)
2 – Remote Work and its Increasing Popularity (https://www.helppier.com/en/benefits-of-remote-work/)
3 – Microsoft Autopilot simplifies the way devices get deployed, reset, and repurposed, with an experience that is zero touch for IT: Simplified deployment and configuration with Windows Autopilot (microsoft.com)
4 – Microsoft Intune is a Cloud-based service that focuses on mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM): Microsoft Endpoint Manager | Microsoft 365
Northern Micro and Microsoft Surface: Your Ally in Building Bridges
November 19, 2020 | Ottawa, ON
Organizations bring individuals together and empower them with a common purpose. Their systems are how they work towards it.
We believe that when walls are built around systems, sometimes people get stuck there too. Luckily, technology is making bricks and mortar less relevant. Productivity is no longer directly tied to being under one roof.
As design thinkers, we also believe that reaping the benefits of this new way of working starts with understanding end–users, their needs, their environment, and their abilities.
That is also we invest so much in working with partners like Microsoft Surface. This innovative brand speaks to our vision for the future. Our long-standing partnership with Microsoft, which began in 1985, has already transformed countless workplaces in Ottawa and across the country.
Over the past few months, a lot has changed in this regard. As one of only a handful of Microsoft Gold Certified partners in Canada, we have been able to support the rapid transformation of entire government departments and hundreds of organizations, each with unique security, operational and logistical challenges.
Since the start of the pandemic for example, we have imaged, updated, installed software, asset tagged, warranty tagged, and shipped tens of thousands of devices to almost as many locations. Through it all, we stayed true to our commitment to the highest security standards and exceptional customer service, which includes advanced warranty replacement, an exclusive media retention program, and our signature white-glove service.
As a Converge Company, we are much more than the technology that we sell. The Northern Micro team includes some visionaries with vast expertise in digital infrastructure, AI and advanced analytics, cloud computing, cyber security, edge computing, professional services, and beyond.
They use technology to break down barriers, eliminate silos, and build bridges… both figuratively and literally. Ready to get started?
Thursday, December 10th, 2020
11 am – 2 pm (EST) • Pheedloop Virtual Platform
Please join us for 90 minutes of engaging and informative content with additional time for
networking and exploring our virtual exhibit hall!
The NM Technology Showcase connects customers and industry leaders to explore and learn about the collective progress we are making on digital transformation, emerging technologies, and digital security.
Just like our in-person events this virtual environment will be engaging, informative, and fun.
– LEARN –
Our Keynote Speaker and Panelist: Aza Raskin
Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at the Center for Humane Technology
Aza is the co-founder of Earth Species Project, an open-source nonprofit dedicated to translating animal communication.
He is also the co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, was featured in the new Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ and is the co-host for the popular podcast Your Undivided Attention.
– CONNECT –
Explore our fully interactive Virtual Expo Hall and connect in real-time with Booth hosts.
– PARTICIPATE –
Get your questions answered LIVE during our Fireside Chat with Aza and industry experts!
– LAUGH –
Announcing our Hilarious Emcee: Steve Patterson.
Host of CBC’s The Debaters | Award-Winning Canadian Comedian
Steve Patterson is familiar to hundreds of thousands of Canadians as the host of CBC Radio One’s hit show The Debaters.
Patterson has appeared on numerous nationally televised comedy specials over the past two decades,
and twice earned the title “Best Male Stand-up Comedian” at the Canadian Comedy Awards.
ANNOUNCING OUR TITLE SPONSORS!
Dell Technologies is at the forefront of driving the digital future. With the combined power of industry leaders: Dell, Dell EMC, SecureWorks, Virtustream, and VMware, Dell Technologies transform lives with world-class technologies.
Microsoft is a leading global computer software vendor, hardware for computer, mobile, and gaming systems, and cloud services. Whether it be work or play, Microsoft technologies software helps businesses and consumers to reach their full potential; however they define it.
This is a public virtual event and everyone is welcome. All attendees are responsible for respecting their employers’ policies regarding the acceptance of promotional items.
Northern Micro and Microsoft Surface: Your Ally in Delivering Critical Services, No Matter What
November 10, 2020 | Ottawa, ON
In March 2020, nearly half a million federal public servants were sent home, including many front-line workers. This was at a time when Canadians needed their services more than ever.
IT priorities quickly shifted, and the race was on to equip hundreds of thousands of public servants to deliver services safely, remotely, and from home. The workplace changed overnight.
Having access to a vast wealth of professional, technical, and logistical resources, Northern Micro, a Converge Company, continues to guide the Government of Canada through this historic stage in its digital transformation.
Our robust partnerships with brands like Microsoft Surface have been instrumental. We have been partnered with Microsoft since the very beginning, in 1985. We are proud to be a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and among the most highly accredited partners in North America and in the top 1% worldwide. Learn more about our partnership with Microsoft Surface.
Together we were able to quickly procure, configure, deliver, install, and support hundreds of thousands of devices to numerous locations across Canada. This is just one example of how partners make us better and why we invest so much into maintaining them.
It should also be noted that As a Converge Company, our team includes some of the greatest minds in the industry. They have expertise in digital infrastructure, AI and advanced analytics, cloud computing, cyber security, edge computing, and much more. Connecting from coast-to-coast-to-coast with critical government services is just one of the many things they can do.