We live in an amazing age. 100 years ago, who’d have imagined the kinds of technologies that we now have at our disposal. If nothing else, 2020 highlighted the fact that without these technologies, we would not have been able to move so quickly (and I think successfully) to a work-from-home environment. From laptops and smartphones to tablets and other peripheral devices, working remotely has never been as easy, reliable or productive as it is today.
But let’s back up a little bit. Actually, let’s back up a lot, and take a quick look at our journey to this point. As long as there have been offices, there have been people sitting in them, using pen and paper to record and communicate. Along the way there have been huge advances in communication. Not least of which came with the telephone. Then desktop computers and fax machines came on the scene.
As we approached the new millennium, it quickly became clear that the internet had the potential to usher in profound changes to so many aspects of our lives – the way we communicate, the way we do business and even how we access entertainment to name a few. With more and more of our devices being able to connect to the World Wide Web, office workers were suddenly able to create, share and retrieve information from virtually anywhere, quickly and efficiently.
Cutting the cord
By this stage, we’ve all heard the anecdote that our smartphones are millions of times more powerful than the Apollo spacecraft computer, but it’s a great example of how miniaturization has helped to drive innovation over the past few decades. Particularly with tools like laptops and smartphones, miniaturization has made devices more powerful, more efficient and far more capable. And as these devices became smaller and cheaper, their popularity exploded with consumers and businesses alike.
All of this, in turn, led to a mobile revolution that allowed workers to connect to their organization’s data and applications from almost anywhere, using any number of devices. With every generation, these devices increasingly relied on wireless connections, such as Wi-Fi and cellular networks, which in turn became faster, with greater reliability and throughput.
2020: remote but connected
While remote working has been around for a long time, it’s been relatively slow to take hold. Some employees (or even entire companies) are completely remote, but until 2020, very few office workers had the freedom to choose whether or not to work from home. Many companies saw remote working as a perk or a luxury, rewarding employees with the option to work from home on occasion.
However, as we are all well aware, 2020 tested the corporate work structure in many ways. One of the most pressing issues was figuring out how to keep businesses running while keeping employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Allowing as many people as possible to work outside of the office was the first step. For companies and employees not previously working remotely, this was a massive change in many ways. Monitors were purchased, home internet plans were increased, and homes were rearranged to create a home office or workstation.
Once this physical space was carved out, the next hurdle was figuring out which devices were necessary to get the job done. Desktop and laptop computers were transported home. And while the cell phone was already well established as a business tool, it now became an essential part of the remote work tool belt. Not only one cell phone, but some employees decided to carry a personal cell and a company-issued device. With the increase in video conferencing (and potential downsizing from the number of monitors available), some also sought out more devices like tablets to help stay connected.
All of this has required a healthy dose of adjustment for individual employees, internal HR and IT teams, and organizations as a whole to get used to the new work environment. As everyone got settled in, they each found different sweet spots for the exact number of devices they needed to get their job done.
How many devices do you use?
Here’s the fun part. We were very curious to find out what this number actually was, so we surveyed remote workers in the US and the UK as part of our recent Experience Monitoring report.
The survey results are the result of responses from 1,000 people – 500 IT professionals and 500 remote workers. We asked the remote employees “How many devices do you use for work,” in which the respondents were given four choices: one, two, three, or more than 3.
Almost a quarter (24.5%) of the responses indicated they used only 1 device. Although they were not asked to specify, it seems safe to assume most of these are using just a computer. 19.2% of those polled indicated that they used three devices, while only 8.5% used more than three. These people are probably using some combination of laptops, personal cellphone, work cellphone, and tablets. Perhaps surprisingly, the resounding majority – 47.8% of respondents – reported using only 2 devices.
From these data points, we can see that nearly three quarters of remote workers carry out their work with two or fewer devices. By contrast, only 1 in 5 remote workers uses three separate devices, and less than 1 in 10 use more than three. To put this into terms that are more relevant for IT teams, for every 100 remote employees, there are about 215 devices in use.
As far as what this means for you and your company, there are obviously a lot of devices being used remotely by employees to work during the pandemic. From the employees’ perspective, the top priority tends to be doing whatever it takes to stay productive and get the job done. From the IT team’s perspective, it’s important to keep these devices secure and give employees the tools they need, regardless of the connection they are on. Failing to do this can quickly lead to Shadow IT and other issues.
That is why NetMotion is committed to providing the best Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) for IT admins and end users. The more visibility you have into what is going on with your users’ devices, the fewer headaches for both you and the quicker you can resolve any issues that come up. Since the majority of people can’t just walk down to the IT department to get help, this is the best alternative one could ask for.
Visit our DEM report to learn more about how this could benefit your organization.
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