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Hybrid Work Calls for Advanced Remote Management of Employee Devices

Mike Marks August 26, 2021
The most recent version of the Aternity Global Remote Work Productivity Tracker shows persistent remote work across all industries and an aggressive move to newer generation device platforms that are key to remote employee productivity. The integration between Aternity and Intel Endpoint Management Assistant enable IT to reduce device incident resolution times by half with one-click access to out of band remote management of Intel vPro platform devices, directly from the Aternity dashboard.

Hybrid work looks like a permanent fact of life for almost every industry. The surge in COVID infections from the Delta variant is threatening the plans to return to the office for companies around the world. Prominent companies across industries, including Wells Fargo, Amazon, Lyft and Dell, pushed back reopening to later in the fall or early 2022. Although office reopening plans vary, some industries have clearly changed their operating models. In healthcare, telehealth is here to stay. In retail, online commerce and curbside delivery is permanently shifting where back-office work gets done. To support their remote employees, companies have accelerated their investment in newer generation devices, but continued hybrid work increases the importance of remote management capabilities to ensure those productivity gains.

Re-examining the Work from Everywhere enterprise

work from everywhere enterprise, global tracker, remote workVolume 9 of the Aternity Global Remote Work Productivity Tracker reexamined the Work from Everywhere (WFE) enterprise. Like the other volumes in the series, this edition analyzes trends in remote work, device and application performance, and digital experience from across the millions of endpoints and hundreds of companies managed by the Aternity Digital Experience Management platform.

This volume shows that higher vaccination rates have led to a modest shift back to the office geographically. In North America, the share of remote work dropped below 80% in late-June for the first time since the pandemic began. In Europe the share of employees working in the office jumped from 24% to 45% since the start of 2021. The picture is different in Asia-Pacific, where the Delta variant surge caused rapid office re-closures, pushing the share of remote work from a pandemic low of 63% in late March to 72% as of August 14.

Remote work remains the rule in all industries

Volume 9 of the global tracker next analyzes remote work by industry. Since October 2020, manufacturing has had the most pronounced return to office, with the share of remote work dropping from 71% to 57%. Software and technology, where on-site collaboration is key, had the second largest drop, from 86% to 82%.

Healthcare and retail standout as industries whose business models have permanently changed due to the pandemic. Telehealth has caused a continuing high rate of remote work for healthcare companies. And retail is the only industry in which the share of remote work increased since October 2020 – from 64% to 71%. Consumers have adapted to the convenience of online shopping and curbside pickup, so retailers appear to be moving back-office functions offsite permanently.

work from everywhere enterprise, global tracker, remote work
Retail is the only industry to have increased the percentage of remote work since October 2020, as business models have shifted to more online shopping and curbside pickup.

Companies are investing in new generation devices to support their remote employees

In its most recent IT spending forecast, Gartner stated that overall spending on devices will increase nearly 14% in 2021, following a drop of 1.5% in 2020. Volume 9 of the global tracker shows that CIOs are investing in new generations of devices to support the work-from-everywhere enterprise.

Since October 2020, use of devices with 10th generation CPUs increased by 10%, corresponding with a 1% decline in devices based on 8th generation CPUs. In addition, following the introduction of 11th generation CPUs at the end 2020, devices with these chips saw initial deployment in April 2021 and appear to be gaining share relatively quickly, particularly in finance and insurance. Enterprises that might have delayed device upgrades due to budget constraints during the early stages of the pandemic also appear to be finally replacing them with the latest generation devices, especially laptops.

work from everywhere enterprise, global tracker, remote work
Usage of newer generation devices (generations 9, 10, and 11) has increased about 15% in aggregate since October 2020.

The challenge of delivering excellent digital experience in a remote work environment

Of course, this continued high level of remote work creates challenges for Digital Workplace teams in delivering excellent digital experience for their employees. Obviously, IT does not control the home networks of their employees. So IT teams are limited in their ability to address employee experience issues caused by Wi-Fi signal strength, bandwidth sharing, VPN performance and network connectivity.

Similarly, the SaaS applications on which employees increasingly rely are beyond the control of the corporate IT department. The headache for IT is that they’re held responsible by the business for the performance of SaaS-delivered applications, regardless of on whose infrastructure the applications run.

Employee devices themselves are the next domain of risk for hybrid work models. Remote employees have been working wherever they can negotiate the space – with their spouses also working from home, with their kids attending classes remotely, etc. Rather than the well-controlled, clean and air-conditioned office environment, they’re working on the porch in the heat, humidity, and showers of pollen. We’re keeping our laptops tethered to AC power all the time, negatively affecting battery performance. We’re not rebooting regularly, so our systems may be well behind in necessary updates.

Advanced remote management with Aternity and Intel® EMA

Intel Endpoint Management Assistant, Intel EMA, remote management, out of band managementThe uptake in newer generation devices enables IT to address these challenges. Later generation device platforms, like those running on the Intel vPro® platform, include advanced remote management capabilities beyond those of older generations.

Together, Intel and Aternity are addressing the challenges of providing excellent digital experience for the hybrid work environment. We recently announced the integration between Aternity and Intel Endpoint Management Assistant (EMA). Aternity’s ability to proactively identify issues affecting employee experience, combined with the advanced remote management capabilities of Intel EMA, enable IT to identify and resolve end user issues on Intel vPro platform devices and cut incident resolution times in half.

With this integration, service desk teams can launch the remote management and remediation capabilities of Intel EMA directly from the Aternity dashboard used to investigate an employee’s device issue. Intel EMA provides powerful out-of-band management that enable the service desk agent to troubleshoot a device even when it is powered off or suffering from a corrupted operating system. Watch this short video to see the integration in action:

How Intel EMA remote management works

Intel® EMA provides a secure remote connection that enables IT to manage Intel vPro® platform-based devices both inside and outside of the corporate firewall without directly connecting to that device. EMA runs in the cloud or in on a virtual machine running in the customer’s data center. Intel EMA consists of software for both the back-end server and the end-user device and integrates to Aternity through RESTful APIs.

Intel® EMA works with Intel® Active Management Technology (AMT). Intel AMT provides remote out of band management of Intel vPro® platform-based devices. These hardware-based Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM) capabilities operate independently of the OS and provide persistent connectivity. With AMT out-of-band management, IT can manage devices when a host operating system is unresponsive or when in-band management isn’t enough.

With the Aternity and Intel® EMA integration, IT can execute the following recovery actions on devices inside and outside the firewall, directly from the Aternity dashboard:

  • Power on a device
  • Restart a device
  • Set wake-up times and schedule updates
  • Control a system even during an OS failure using keyboard-video-mouse (KVM)
  • Repair devices at scale

To use Intel® EMA, systems must have current-generation Intel vPro® processors with Intel® AMT activated.

Join DXNow to learn more about remote management with Intel and Aternity

Register for DXNow, Aternity’s upcoming virtual community conference, running on September 21 and 22, to learn more about how Intel and Aternity are jointly developing capabilities to support remote management of employee devices. Jennifer Talerico, Intel’s Senior Director of Services and Solution Enabling, Client Computing Group, will speak about using Aternity on her team to ensure excellent digital experience for Intel’s workforce. Join us for what will be an exciting session!

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