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Managing Windows Devices in a Hybrid Environment: Best Practices and Challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses worldwide to shift quickly to work from home. Many organizations found this new work model as effective as in-office. Fast forward a few years, and the hybrid model, where employees work remotely and in the office, has become a popular choice for many organizations.

There are several benefits for employees and businesses. It allows for more work-life balance for employees as they have the flexibility to work from home and avoid long commutes. Additionally, it can also increase productivity by minimizing distractions and increasing focus. For organizations, hybrid work has led to cost savings, as it reduces spending on office space and utilities. However, there are challenges to implementing hybrid work. 

One of the biggest challenges is setting up employees with the necessary equipment and technology to work with. This includes providing employees with Windows laptops or PCs and other applications to work effectively. When employees worked from the office, IT teams had no trouble installing and configuring software, monitoring laptops for performance, and providing tech support.

Device management tools are critical for supporting a hybrid work environment for IT teams. Let’s look at the challenges and possible solutions for efficient and standardized Windows device management.

Challenges: Device management in a hybrid work environment

1.Lack of physical access to devices for repair and updates

In a hybrid environment, devices are located anywhere, and the chances of employees bringing those devices back to the corporate office anytime for repair, updates, or upgrades are slim. An unplanned device downtime can lead to productivity loss. Device downtime is when a device is temporarily inactive because of software inactivities, operating system malfunctions, virus remediation, and more. 

Device downtime significantly impacts employee morale, customer loyalty, and business revenue. Business data and analytics provider Dun & Bradstreet estimates that 59% of Fortune 500 companies experience at least 1.6 hours of computer downtime weekly. Repeated downtime across multiple devices can include up to hundreds of hours of lost time, translating into millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Best practice: IT teams should modernize their remote device management approach using tools supporting remote diagnosis and repair. Consider mobile device management solutions with in-built capabilities that allow IT to troubleshoot and resolve issues remotely, deploy operating systems and third-party patches effectively, and monitor the health of each device under the organization’s management.

Windows remote monitoring detects problems affecting user productivity and allows IT to respond proactively. For example, periodically obtaining information from the operating system to examine how programs running on their computers affect the computer’s performance.

2.Outdated devices

Devices running older operating systems can present a lot of issues. Windows desktops and laptops incur a serious cost for any organization, and IT needs to keep them operational for as long as possible. The challenge for IT is that Windows 7 does not support modern management. 

It is a method of managing devices, OS, and applications to provide an improved user experience to employees regardless of how they are connected—from the office premises or remotely. That means IT teams will have difficulty managing devices running older operating systems. 

Best practice: To extend the benefits of modern management, organizations should consider an agent-based application to manage Windows 7 devices. That will allow IT to extend the benefits of modern management such as patching—from scanning and detecting missing patches to downloading and deploying them on Windows devices.

Even if a laptop runs an outdated operating system, organizations can take steps to enhance remote working security. For instance, organizations can install third-party antivirus software and enable firewalls to protect against cyber threats. Additionally, they can also implement data protection features such as BitLocker encryption to address the threat of device theft. 

Finally, agent-based management helps with device retirement. It can remotely and securely wipe off all corporate information from the device before disposing of it in an environmentally friendly manner.

3.Managing device visibility

Gaining device visibility has been a long-standing struggle for IT, especially in a hybrid environment. The shift away from working within the corporate networks means organizations have limited visibility into devices connected to a home or public Wi-Fi network. Furthermore, remote devices could risk being non-compliant or, worse, face a data breach if an exploit goes undetected.

Data breaches can cause organizations irreparable economic damage, reputational harm, and regulatory and compliance fines. Lack of visibility into the device inventory seriously threatens a company’s security posture. Therefore, mobile device management becomes critical to business continuity. 

Best practice: IT teams should use device management tools to establish a secure connection between remotely deployed Windows devices and the company’s network by configuring a VPN. Additionally, they should also identify and remove high-risk devices not compliant with the organization’s policy. Organizations of all sizes should onboard a Windows device management platform that improves the visibility of remote devices, thereby providing more security capabilities.

Wrapping Up

The rise of the hybrid work model has led to a new set of challenges for IT teams. To manage these new challenges, organizations must leverage the right tools to help IT manage, monitor and control Windows devices. Organizations should realize the importance of using effective device management, especially for devices running outdated Windows devices. 

With device management, it will be easier for IT to provide anytime, anywhere support to disparate fleets of laptops and PCs.  Organizations may incur costs initially, but not investing in remote device management can result in hidden IT and productivity costs and security risks.

IEMLabs is an ISO 27001:2013 and ISO 9001:2015 certified company, we are also a proud member of EC Council, NASSCOM, Data Security Council of India (DSCI), Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The company was established in 2016 with a vision in mind to provide Cyber Security to the digital world and make them Hack Proof. The question is why are we suddenly talking about Cyber Security and all this stuff? With the development of technology, more and more companies are shifting their business to Digital World which is resulting in the increase in Cyber Crimes.


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