Why SMEs need employee choice when it comes to end-user devices

Damian Jaume, President, Dynabook Europe GmbH, explains how SME’s can futureproof themselves by making the appropriate device provisioning decisions for the digital age.

Damian Jaume, President, Dynabook Europe GmbH

Choices in relation to workplace technology have conventionally been the domain of the IT department, even in smaller business with fewer departmental divides. That said, the latest decade has seen these decisions progressively begin to include an SME’s employees as trends such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the consumerisation of IT have gained traction. The ongoing pandemic has only amplified this issue further, shining a light on potential problems with end-user devices that had not previously been seen in the office.

According to a LinkedIn survey, three-quarters of SMEs (73%) say they are challenged by competing with better-known companies for talent. Smaller businesses need to work even harder than their bigger counterparts to stay competitive and attract and retain talent. Part of this comes down to the technology decisions – particularly around end-user devices – an organisation makes.

Although we’re seeing some savvy firms moving in the right direction to connect the IT department with their workers, studies show that a gap between the two remains. PWC recently found that 90% of executives believed their company pays close attention to their staff’s needs when introducing new technology, but only half (53%) of employees felt the same. It’s now really important for SMEs to move beyond IT controlling device provisioning and allow employees to exercise a greater degree of choice with regards to the technology and tools they are using on a daily basis.

Device provisioning decisions for the digital age

Advanced personal computing and connectivity has meant employees have become accustomed to having the latest technology right at their fingertips. The last year has seen an acceleration in digital services and today’s SME workforce is curious about the latest devices, products and services. Many of the younger generation, who are entering the workforce for the first time, have grown up in the digital age and expect the same level of technology in the workplace as they have at home.

Smaller businesses naturally need to do more to show new and existing employees why their company stands out and the opportunities it can offer. Training, bonuses, health and wellness benefits all remain a key part of this and shouldn’t be ignored by smaller organisations. However, the COVID-19 pandemic – which has led to a continued increase in the time that employees are spending at their home desks on laptops and desktops – has seen workplace technology become even more of critical consideration for employers. PCs and notebooks have been the unsung heroes of these challenging time for many people, further highlighting to businesses the need to include employees in the decisions around end-user device provisioning.

For small businesses, fostering a productive and content workforce cannot just be the HR department’s responsibility. It necessitates open discussions between employees and the organisation about the technology that their staff want to use and will enable them to do their best work.

The power of choice in the SME

Connecting HR and IT, and giving employees more autonomy to choose and utilise familiar technology manifests into numerous advantages for both the employer and the SME. According to a Gensler Workplace Study, 76% of employees say that having a choice of technology would positively impact their performance, while 60% also said it would likely affect their job satisfaction.

An employee who feels like an organisation is listening to their needs will be empowered to go above and beyond. This can result in SMEs seeing greater employee engagement and retention, and also increased job satisfaction and performance. In fact, engaged employees are said to be nearly 20% more productive, while workers who say their voice is heard by their employer are 4.6 times more likely to perform their best work. For small businesses, increasing productivity helps a business grow and thrive, opening the doors to increased revenue and scalability.

Future-proofing your SME with the right tools

So, what do employers need to think about when choosing new end-user devices? While SMEs should prioritise open discussions around device expectations with employees, they ultimately also need to take into account other core devices functional features like mobility, security, reliability and connectivity, in addition to form factor and design. Today’s SME workforce is increasingly mobile, and will be even more so after the pandemic, so providing a degree of freedom through end-user devices is vital. SMEs need to be investing in lightweight and compact, yet powerful and secure devices.

Another thing to consider is regular device refreshes to ensure employees can enjoy the latest technologies and SMEs can avoid any unwanted disparity between personal and workplace technology.

To future-proof their employee engagement strategy and remain attractive to new and existing talent, it’s now vital that SMEs adopt a new model for procuring and provisioning technology, particularly end-user devices, which involves their workforce from the early stages. For smaller businesses the stakes are high and one of their most important assets is its people – employees are even more so the face and voice behind the business and their productivity propels an organisation forward. In today’s digital era, enabling employees to choose technology they want to use is one of the most important ways of acquiring and holding onto this valuable asset.