New tools for a new workplace

Sponsored By: Microsoft

There are many questions as companies try to get back to business as usual, and many ambiguities about how best to proceed. One thing, however, is certain. It takes the right mix of hardware, software and peripherals to support the new hybrid work environment.

To put this in perspective, a 2021 Forrester Consulting survey found that companies expect more than half of their workforces either to be working remotely or in a hybrid work scenario. Not surprisingly, the survey also indicated that the top post-pandemic, employee-related priorities all focus on supporting hybrid work, with over 75 per cent of decision-makers responsible for employee equipment planning to increase investments in PCs and laptops over the next few years.

The Power of the Device

State-of-the-art laptops are table stakes for Switch Health, a company that galvanized Canada’s fight against COVID-19 by developing an accessible, at-home and mobile testing solution. With much of Switch Health’s testing occurring in patients’ homes under the guidance of Telehealth professionals, laptops enable everything from onboarding employees, sharing information, and booking remote team meetings, to meeting with patients, guiding them through testing, registering them in person, and allowing them to access results.

Switch HealthIn under two years, what began as a small business of four founders grew rapidly into a large-scale enterprise with a hybrid workforce of over 2,000 people. “Our biggest challenge was scaling to meet the demand for screening, which grew exponentially as we became the only federal government partner to deliver mandatory COVID testing in four international airports and over 100 points of entry into Canada,” says Jordan Paquet, Vice President, Public Affairs at Switch Health. “None of that would have been possible without Microsoft Surface and Microsoft’s suite of products.”

Take a look at: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8

In addition to enabling a reliable system to deliver COVID testing kits from the warehouse to patients’ homes and then to laboratories, Microsoft Surface, Teams and SharePoint are also instrumental in keeping employees connected with each other, to patients, and with Switch Health’s global partner network. “Employees are spending more of their day in a suite of cloud applications and software,” says Steve Pontisso, Product Marketing Leader, Microsoft Surface. “The tools they use play an essential role in this experience.”

Pontisso’s list of must-haves for the hybrid workplace includes modern devices with high processing speeds, long battery life, secure connectivity, compatibility with existing systems and applications, high-quality webcams, and ease of integration into a variety of work environments. “Enhancing the way people work and collaborate means they spend less time wrestling with their devices and more time being productive,” he says.

Born to be Hybrid

A case in point is Microsoft’s recently unveiled, Surface Pro 8. Designed specifically for the hybrid workplace, it works with Microsoft Teams to create a virtual hub that combines video conferencing, chat, collaboration and integration with office applications, regardless of where employees are working. With security a heightened concern when deploying devices in a hybrid environment, the devices in Microsoft’s Surface line also get top marks for employing the strongest security protocols, with streamlined management that reduces complexity for IT and makes it easy for users to stay focused.

As the hybrid workplace continues to evolve, the devices used in that workplace must evolve as well. Placing employee experience at the centre of a device investment strategy will increase job satisfaction, enable collaboration, and contribute to employee retention. As an added bonus, it will also lead to better business outcomes and higher productivity. Just ask the company that grew from four to 2,000 employees in under a year.

“While the world grapples with new and existing variants of COVID, public health officials and travellers are looking for trusted industry initiatives, such as negative covid-testing and proof of vaccination,” says Paquet. “We are thrilled that Microsoft offered the solutions we needed to serve patients in their homes and guide them along their way.”


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Sponsored By: Microsoft

Suzanne Robicheau
Suzanne Robicheau
Suzanne Robicheau is a communications specialist based in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where working remotely continues to fuel her passion for new mobile technologies -- especially on snowy days.