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Many businesses are keen to see their employees back in the office following months of disruption due to COVID-19. Employers understand the value an office environment provides employees -- from the camaraderie working closely with colleagues' fosters to the benefits of being exposed to creativity and a positive working culture.

While flexible working provides employees with many freedoms, 70 percent have indicated they still want their business to keep an office space, citing additional factors that center around social behaviour (including training and onboarding), according to Hubble HQ.

So far just 34 percent of UK white-collar workers have returned to the office and the pandemic is proving unpredictable. Spikes in infection rates are triggering new restrictions, quarantine regulations and even new lockdowns.

Businesses are going to have to manage this unpredictability. They must ensure productivity and adopt tools that allow people to stay connected and realize the benefits associated with office working, wherever they are logging on. 

Yet the need to stay agile and adopt technologies that can cater for rapidly shifting working scenarios isn't exclusive to our post-COVID world.

"A gradual shift has been taking place for years, so the technology is already there to support it," said Ivan Wintersteiger, Global Practice Manager, End User Computing, WWT. "Flexible working isn't new -- but due to the sudden, all-encompassing and unpredictable nature of the pandemic, businesses do face specific challenges implementing it at the speed and scale required to match the business performance expected when everyone was operating from the office."

The way we see it, there are three main challenges:


  • The shift to remote/hybrid working coupled with accelerated digital transformation poses significant challenges to enterprise security operations. With 76 percent of the workforce working from home, it has widened the threat landscape and exposed enterprise networks, devices and data to increasing cybersecurity risk. Employees are now accessing data on many devices, which are no longer protected by a company Firewall. 


  • Traditional management solutions are not equipped to patch these devices outside the four walls of the office. The longer solutions are not patched, the more opportunities there are for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities. 


  • Enabling IT to better support their users by having modern tools. Prime example is self-provisioning, which helps IT enable users to be more productive, at a faster rate.
  • IT can easily support if there are any breaches through Workspace ONE thanks to its Built-in Zero Trust security. This covers all users, apps and endpoints in an interconnected least-privilege system which empowers employees without sacrificing security.

"Fortunately, there are platforms which can tick these boxes and enable employees to work safely and effectively from anywhere. These solutions facilitate the flexibility that the current situation necessitates," Wintersteiger said.

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Flexible technology to the rescue

Setting up and deploying a platform to ensure businesses can operate flexibly and securely in the current environment can be extremely complex, costly and time-consuming. Moreover, the current unpredictability has created a need to get new technology out to businesses at speed. 

"In this stage of adjustment, there has been a shift in the social contract in terms of the way we work," said Margarete McGrath, Chief Digital Officer, Dell Technologies. "For many organizations, there will be no turning back as new work patterns and blended working styles start to settle. This change in working behaviors has presented an opportunity as well as significant challenges for organizations and employees to redefine the way they work. In some instances, leaders are taking this time to reimagine how organizations will work in the medium to longer term future."

Last year, Dell Technologies introduced Unified Workspace, a comprehensive solution to help businesses securely deploy and efficiently operate endpoints from the cloud. 

The offering unifies Dell devices, services and support with VMWare Workspace ONE to enable businesses to access the best PC technology, in a way that is easily managed and secured, while also providing employees with an office-like experience wherever they need it. However, deploying such solutions at scale is not without challenges. 

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Overcoming deployment challenges

"Just as businesses have had to adapt to the new normal, service providers also need to constantly focus on innovation and product launches to meet the changing needs of their enterprise customers," said Daniel Valle, Chief Technologist, Service Providers, EMEA, WWT. 

Valle said WWT's Advanced Technology Center (ATC) can act as a catalyst to foster collaboration and product innovation by accelerating new products to market by delivering quick productization and prototyping. 

"The ATC is a center of excellence for lab testing, design and implementing ideas in an environment which is purpose built. It's a direct route from prototype to tangible solution production," Valle said. "By leveraging a partner like WWT, service providers can support deployments via accelerated white-glove rollouts using our network of Integration Technology Centers (ITCs)".

WWT's supply chain and integration expertise provides a one-stop shop for service providers, offering affordable, flexible and effective material planning, custom stocking and shipping. The ITCs simplify onsite integration via WWT's plug-and-play models – everything you need to drop-ship pre-configured devices to customers efficiently and easily. They are set up to flexibly and cost-effectively support service providers in catering to the needs of businesses as the pandemic continues.

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Embrace flexibility 

Businesses need the flexibility to adapt to employees' rapidly changing working behaviors and locations, to enable productivity, creativity, collaboration and aid their wellbeing. Given the unpredictability of the current working climate, this flexibility is crucial to supporting the UK in recovering from the Coronavirus and rebuilding its economy.

By offering easy and cost-effective access to solutions such as Dell's tried and trusted Workspace ONE, service providers can be the engine for this recovery, providing the UK's workforce with the tools they need to stay connected and work collaboratively and productively – wherever they are.