As millions of workers adapt to a new way of working, remote technologies have overnight become among the most important concerns of IT leaders. Evaluating the quality of the devices that enable remote working is among the most critical factors in improving the employee experience.
Digital transformation certainly promises a lot. Whether that’s going from white boards to smartboards or shifting from pen-and-paper to iPads, almost every organization is undergoing some form of move to a more digital, mobile world. Unfortunately, this shift comes with a price tag.
IT teams now wrestle with the need to equip workers with the latest and greatest devices with a limited capex budget. Flagship smartphones from Samsung, Google and Apple are released every single year, retailing at comparable prices to high end laptops. The cost this poses to the organization can be significant, especially when considering the need to replace devices every couple of years.
IT departments aren’t known for purchasing cutting edge technology. They want devices that are older and more affordable – that have been tested and patched, and have been shown to be reliable. In turn, this usually means that the technology purchased by IT departments is 2-3 generations old. This strategy does not work with mobile.– Taylor Boyko, CEO at SimpleMDM
Employees will cycle through their own personal mobile devices quickly, meaning expectations of device quality are much higher with mobile than with traditional desktop working. Older, slower devices issued by employers will often go unloved and un-used by workers if they do not meet these expectations, undermining the whole digital transformation effort and reducing productivity. In short, older or cheaper devices may present a short-term cost-saving to the business, but they can become a hugely damaging factor in terms of employee experience.
My laptop crashed and now I have absolutely no motivation to do work from home for the next 30 minutes— Dave (@biosphereablaze) April 1, 2020
Dated, lower-quality devices will also degrade battery much faster, which is among the most frustrating of EX problems for mobile workers. The worst may even start crashing or involuntarily restarting, an issue reported by a majority of mobile workers.
very annoying of my laptop to be on “low battery”— Caroline McKnight (@Carolineemck) April 1, 2020
In late 2019, NetMotion conducted a study of several hundred mobile workers to uncover and document the most common frustrations encountered during remote working. Unsurprisingly, issues with hardware were regularly cited by responders as a frequent and painful obstacle to productivity.
Only about a third of mobile workers do not rank battery issues among their top ten frustrations, suggesting two thirds work on sub-standard devices.
1 in 6
Over one in six mobile workers rank struggling with crashing devices in their top 3 frustrations
Case study: European delivery company
Like many other organizations, this UK-based parcel service updated its mobile fleet in stages. After deciding to upgrade to iPhones for the first time in 2018, it needed to work out which of its 10,000+ Toughbook and other Android-based devices would be replaced first. It was decided that the oldest Toughbook devices would be switched out first, and 2,500 of them were replaced with iOS devices in September 2018. In line with existing policies, none of the devices were assigned to individual workers. Instead, a pool of devices was made available at regional sites for employees to pick up before each shift began.
Problems first began when many of the remaining Android smartphones began failing, coupled with a growing number of lost devices of the same handset model. After implementing new technologies, the company discovered that a large volume of the Android devices were suffering from battery problems, and that many of these devices were being discarded in warehouses and other company sites by frustrated workers. As well as recovering and restoring these lost handsets, the organization also modified its iOS rollout plan to upgrade the fleet in a more intelligent way; instead of going purely on the age of each device, the IT team could focus first on devices that had begun to degrade the fastest.
Advice for improving employee experience
- Invest in high quality devices that meet employee expectations for usability and speed. Any savings on hardware costs will likely be undermined by bigger employee experience problems in the future.
- Consider refurbishing devices to maintain high levels of device performance
- Monitor battery performance of all corporate-owned devices and take appropriate action to combat potential issues.
- Use technologies that can physically locate abandoned, discarded or lost devices