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How to digitally transform and modernise your workplace (and strengthen employee loyalty :)

As technology continues to develop at a ridiculous pace, it becomes ever more entrenched as an essential component of modern living; both in business and in private life. Employees now have rising expectations for the latest technologies to be available in the workplace, and forward-thinking companies are just as eager to embrace digital transformation and implement flexible working arrangements.

But we’ve already implemented workplace modernisation

We’ve all heard this one. I remember hearing it when organisations were moving from XP to Windows 7 and patting themselves on the back. I guess it was kind of true back then, but today workplace modernisation means much more than just upgrading the OS.

Fast forward to 2018, and although things are improving, there’s definitely still some confusion that exists around what “workplace modernisation” actually looks like. And if it’s not confusion, then it’s perhaps simply hesitation – hesitation about the paradigm shift away from a static network perimeter with a firewall at the front door to a borderless enterprise that has identity-driven security at its core. More on that later.

So, what is workplace modernisation?

Surprisingly, over 80% of respondents that took part in a digital workplace study mistakenly believed that by just using social media and email, they already had a digital workplace and have undergone a digital transformation. Easily pleased, or completely misinformed? I hope technology decision makers didn’t place too much faith in those results. Social media and email aren’t going to keep millennials engaged!

Workplace modernisation is about delivering simple, consistent and high-quality experiences with voice, video and messaging. It should have collaboration built-in – not as a bolt on – and it should allow employees to move between devices such as a phone, laptop, tablet, desktop or (a shameless plug for my favourite device) a Surface Hub™, seamlessly and securely.

Lastly, it’s about constantly evolving the automation of common tasks, allowing employees to enjoy real focus time; time to focus on what they do best instead of having to figure out how to make technology work for them.

Employee expectations

A staggering 84% of millennials said they want more work-life balance than they currently have. In addition to this, two-thirds of people want to work from home, and 36% of workers would actually choose remote work over a pay rise. Allowing staff to work from home also has productivity benefits for the company, with 98% of remote workers finding that it actually enhances their productivity.

The transition to a modern workplace means providing flexible working arrangements, with staff able to work from anywhere and still enjoy the same rich interaction with others. Similarly, if sharing a photo with your significant other is as simple as opening Google Photos and clicking ‘Share’, or collaborating on the menu for the upcoming family lunch is as simple creating a document in Word Online and clicking ‘Share’, or arranging a video call on Skype with five friends to discuss your planned holiday to Bermuda is as simple as… you get the idea. There is an expectation that the way in which people work with technology in their personal lives should be equally as simple in their business lives.

In order to attract and retain the best staff, businesses need to embrace technology which allows device and location independence and a deep level of communication and collaboration. Failure to do so will see them cede potential employees to the competition. But won’t this new level of freedom put all of your data at risk?

The perimeter isn’t dead, it’s just no longer enough

Having a static, well-managed network perimeter, encrypted WAN links and a complex set of firewalls filtering the ingress and egress from your network might have been an effective defence five or more years ago, but things have long since moved on. Phishing attacks, malware and bad actors with a deliberate and motivated intent to penetrate networks continue to pwn enterprise environments from the smallest to the largest.

The median number of days an attacker resides within a compromised network is 146 days, all the while exfiltrating data. The reality is that in this day and age it’s questionable whether there is real discernible difference between data residing “inside the perimeter” or “outside the perimeter” in a traditional sense when it can still be appropriated by a bad actor even if it is inside! Similarly, in the age of all-pervasive electronic communications, once it has left the ‘safety’ of residing within the enterprise network, once it’s outside, it’s essentially a free for all. For the most part you can’t control what happens to it or who ends up with it.

Now it’s all about identity

Sitting at the centre of the modern workplace is identity-driven security. After the people that make your company what it is, your next most valuable asset is your company’s data, and how you protect it inside, online or when it’s on the move is now critical. Microsoft 365, which sees the coming together of Windows 10 and Office 365 under a single umbrella, also includes Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security suite.

Secure single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, risk-based conditional access. Manage privileged identities and leverage identity protection. Classify and label files at creation, track their usage, and protect them wherever they go. Utilise behavioural analytics to detect suspicious user or entity behaviour, both on-premises and in the cloud.

Identity-driven security is what makes the modern workplace possible and exploiting the products and services that Microsoft provide as part of the Enterprise Mobility + Security suite actually stands to give an organisation a vastly improved risk profile than has previously been possible. And all possible without the static, well-managed network perimeter, encrypted WAN links and a complex set of firewalls filtering the ingress and egress from your network.

Transition to the modern workplace

A key difference of a true modern workplace is that employees are always engaged, productive, and mobile. At oobe, yes, we drink the Microsoft 365 Kool-Aid, but I believe that’s to the benefit of our customers when we help deploy these solutions.

Having worked with government customers for more than 11 years, security is also at the core of everything we do, which is why we are bringing Perimeta for Microsoft 365 to market. Perimeta for Microsoft 365 builds on our previous collaboration with Microsoft.

It will address all of the controls mandated or recommended by the Australian Signals Directorate's Information Security Manual up to PROTECTED, ensure a consistent configuration baseline across all Windows 10, 365 and EM+S leveraging a high level of Azure-base automation, and will keep on top of new features and services as they are released thereby ensuring the risk profile remains as low as possible. Watch this space :)

For more information on how we can truly modernise your workplace, schedule a free consultation with an oobe specialist consultant via sales@oobe.com.au or, to speak directly with a consultant, call 1300 753 707.

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