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Device lifecycle management: The key to working from home productively

As hybrid work becomes the norm, device lifecycle management will have to keep up with workplace changes to ensure operational success.
As hybrid work becomes the norm, device lifecycle management will have to keep up with workplace changes to ensure operational success.
26 December 2023 •

Covid-19 overhauled many things, including our morning routines. Instead of rushing to the office, you could take your time to get ready and simply fire up your laptop to begin the workday at home.

But on occasions, you may have turned on your device only to realize that it was not working. You would then spend much time – sometimes hours – trying to fix it before you could get any work done.

This could greatly hamper productivity as hybrid work becomes the norm, with 74 percent of employers now offering it as an option. Many organizations were already considering such arrangements before the pandemic. The pandemic served as a catalyst and now, a fully hybrid work future may not be too far away.

But, transitioning to a fully hybrid working environment will be challenging. It is not as simple as sending employees home to work. To ensure productivity remains high – or even improves – effective procedures must be implemented.

Stemming productivity losses

One example is device lifecycle management, which covers the entire process of device usage within an organization.

Even one small hiccup could slow down the workflow from procurement to delivery to maintenance to offboarding. A 2023 study by information technology (IT) solutions company Electric found that workers spend nearly three hours fixing technical problems every week. This translates to an average annual waste of US$4,072 (€3,816) per year in labor costs per employee.

Such productivity losses could deepen with more employees working away from the office in a hybrid work model. In the same study, 41 percent of hybrid workers said tech issues had wasted their time, compared with only 22 percent of on-site employees. It is thus crucial to improve device lifecycle management for a seamless transition.

Eliminating redundancies

First, procurement and delivery will need to evolve. Traditionally, collection and configuration were done in the office. However, with the adoption of hybrid work, these processes need to be more flexible. Instead of a handover at the office on day one, devices must be delivered directly to employees' homes.

The shift to remote delivery introduces a logistical challenge. Previously, devices were simply delivered to the office, where IT personnel handled configuration and the uploading of different company software. When ready, employees would collect them when reporting for work on-site.

During the pandemic, companies had to account for both the provision and installation of computers and technological equipment in employees' homes for them to work remotely.
During the pandemic, companies had to account for both the provision and installation of computers and technological equipment in employees' homes for them to work remotely.

Working from home adds one more step to the process – home delivery after configuration. This necessitates an extra trip that might affect productivity and create operational inefficiencies.

These challenges are driving organizations to move to cloud-based device lifecycle management solutions. This enables a streamlined process where devices can be delivered directly to employees' homes without going through IT personnel for configuration and setup. Employees can do it themselves upon receiving their devices by simply connecting to the cloud.

Alternatively, configurations can be completed at warehouses before the devices are sent to users.

Safeguarding against threats

Throughout their years of use, devices need to be maintained. Whether through routine software updates or complex repairs, this phase of the device lifecycle is necessary to maximize operational lifespans.

This is underscored by the fact that cybercrime – from theft to embezzlement to data hacking – is on the rise, with McKinsey warning that it is “on track to cause US$10.5 trillion a year in damage by 2025”.

United Nations officials also warned in 2020 that malicious emails saw a 600 percent increase during the pandemic, with one such attack taking place every 39 seconds.

Against the backdrop of rising cybersecurity threats, organizations must improve their device lifecycle management to ensure their data is safe. This is especially critical as hybrid work becomes increasingly common – employees may opt to work in public spaces and connect to public networks, leaving them more vulnerable to security attacks.

Adopting cloud technology would facilitate frequent and convenient security updates for all employee laptops and other devices. As the IT industry continues to release new security measures to protect against new threats, it will ensure that devices are equipped with the most recent updates and patches which will best protect them.

Leveling up the IT job scope

However, even with excellent device lifecycle management, problems will still arise. It is then that resolution strategies will be tested.

When in the office, employees can quickly turn to IT personnel for help when facing issues. But those working remotely have to find other solutions.

An effective helpdesk is key for employees to fix their IT issues while working remotely.
An effective helpdesk is key for employees to fix their IT issues while working remotely.

Companies must set up an effective help desk that employees can call when facing technical issues. Those operating it would also need to be well-trained in IT and communications. Since they would not be resolving the issues themselves, they would need to clearly outline the steps so employees can follow along at home.

In addition, efficient and reliable delivery is essential to ensure work can resume as quickly as possible if devices require repairing or replacing.

Completing the loop

The final stage of the device lifecycle is offboarding. Other than ensuring proper disposal and data wiping procedures are followed to prevent data leaks, this phase also includes disposal, recycling, and refurbishing.

With asset recovery, 20 to 50 percent of electronic devices returned can be characterized as “no fault found” and be resold.

Recycling and refurbishing would not only help organizations cut costs but also lower their carbon footprint.

As organizations navigate the hybrid work model, effective device lifecycle management from end to end is imperative for operational success. From logistics to IT, many moving parts need to be optimized. When done right, employees may overlook it as it runs smoothly in the background, but its failure will pose significant challenges for the organization.

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