Tips for IT managers: How to make effective hybrid working simple

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The last year was tough for IT managers everywhere. Nobody could have anticipated the sudden and drastic changes to IT strategy that organisations had to implement. While the way we work has been changing, the pandemic added rocket fuel to what was a gradual evolution. What might have been a steady three-year plan for progressing digital transformation, was suddenly expedited to ‘now’.

Over the last 30 years we’ve said goodbye to the individual offices, to desk cubicles and more recently to the 9 to 5 and even to the idea of an office at all. Even pre-pandemic there was an accelerating drive towards home and mobile working, with employees wanting to work effectively when they’re in an office, shared space, in their study at home, or at another branch around the country. But in the wake of the pandemic, the need and speed of transformation has ramped up even further as many businesses commit to long-term remote and distributed working policies.

As a result of these changes, the role of the IT leader has evolved to what we might call an information architect. Now, they are answering complex questions such as:
  • How is information going to flow through business processes and applications, even when employees are based in different locations? 
  • How can we make sure that paper-based information that enters the office can be made digitally accessible to staff working remotely? 
  • How can we ensure that information is accessed and handled securely from offsite workspaces?

To support this new mobile working model, IT teams have had to undergo a revaluation of the technology that underpins their day-to-day working. Organisations need a setup that supports easy information flow, regardless of location. For many, that meant a complete refresh, moving away from legacy on-site infrastructure to cloud-delivered software and services.

1. Keeping infrastructure light

Historically, as an IT team you might have spent a lot of time managing and maintaining onsite infrastructure. While this wasn’t a good use of your time, it was typical of many organisations. The ramifications of the pandemic have triggered many business leaders to reconsider normal processes, after all, continual site visits aren’t just impractical during lockdowns, they make long-term distributed or hybrid working impossible. The experience has therefore bolstered the business case for reducing reliance on onsite infrastructure; one of the areas facing new scrutiny is driver management.

Driver management is not a widely discussed topic, but the fact is that it’s a headache for IT teams, even when devices and users are onsite. Hybrid working only adds complexity. Working in new environments will likely mean investing in new devices better suited to remote locations. And new devices mean more work for IT, including having to ensure they have the correct software, drivers and security setup.

User requirements will vary depending on their role, which will then have implications for driver management. Meanwhile, with more users wanting to connect their own devices, it’s even more important that printer drivers are correctly managed and deployed. Moving towards a cloud-based, driverless environment not only saves you valuable time setting up or updating remote devices, but also ensures that your business doesn’t have to acquire more onsite infrastructure.

2. Centralised fleet management

Moving to cloud-based fleet management also has advantages beyond making your infrastructure more remote-friendly; it brings you centralised management, making it easier for you to see, manage and maintain your print and scan fleets.

For example, you might not actually find out about issues like low toner levels, jams and errors until an employee reports it, by which time the problem is already slowing down their day. When the device is 50 miles away in an employee’s home office, diagnosing and fixing the issue is even harder. It might even mean the device being out of action for a long time. With cloud-based tools, you can monitor device fleets and anticipate issues such as toner replacement, reducing downtime.

Central management also allows you to manage updates more easily. Without a fleet being located in the same room, it’s unfeasible to update each device individually. With cloud-based management software, you can simply roll out new updates or features across the whole fleet, without leaving your desk. Better for you and better for employees, who are getting instant access to the latest versions, without delay – this is particularly important when security is involved.

3. Secure, effective information flow

That brings us to secure, effective workflows. One thing that you can all agree on, is that security is paramount. But IT teams need to strike the right balance between accessibility and protection. Employees should be able to access the documents they need, without stumbling across the ones they shouldn’t. Nor should easy access for workers come at the price of easy access for anyone, including malicious actors.

Here, cloud-based systems offer many advantages. They simultaneously allow employees to easily access documents they need, from wherever they are. But they also let IT teams manage security more easily, allowing you to set up rules to grant and restrict user’s access to file locations on the server.

Meanwhile, cloud-based fleet management also allows you to tackle this for print and scan devices. You can configure and manage user profiles and workflows from a central perspective, making it simple to set rules for access and information management.

As we enter a new era of hybrid working, IT teams will increasingly find themselves in the role of the ‘Information Architect’. At the heart of this will be providing the tools and technology to enable effective, secure working from anywhere. Your organisation might have had cloud in its plans already, but it’s going to become essential for this task, particularly when it comes to fleet management. But this isn’t just about necessity, it’s also an opportunity to improve your fleet management generally, helping you boost uptime and keeping your workforce secure.

Discover more on what the future of IT looks like in 10 years’ time.

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