The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to quickly adapt to remote and hybrid work models to maintain their operations. A traditional office transformation ensued. Microsoft took notice.
The tech giant designed Windows 11 to embolden a hybrid workforce. Developers focused on providing simpler ways for users to interact, stay connected, and be more productive. As a result, Windows 11 is helping reshape the hybrid work culture. And that’s welcome news for the 74% of U.S. companies that are using or plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model.1
This article will explore how Windows 11:
- Powers productivity and collaboration
- Enhances hybrid security
- Simplifies hybrid deployment and management
Powering Productivity and Collaboration
More work is happening remotely than ever before. And while 80% of employees say they are just as or more productive since going remote or hybrid, employers aren’t so sure. Less than half of leaders share their employees’ optimism.2
Windows 11 aims to give employers greater peace of mind with a variety of features that improve productivity and collaboration.
A snappier Windows 11 user interface
- New snap layouts and snap groups allow users to easily organize and customize their windows.
- The new Start menu is more streamlined and intuitive, allowing quicker access to frequently used applications.
Microsoft Teams integration within Windows 11 makes collaboration more accessible
- Users can quickly access Teams and start a chat, call, or video meeting with their colleagues without opening a separate application
- Windows 11 also provides a new virtual desktop feature that allows users to create individual desktops for different tasks – a great way to be more organized and reduce screen clutter
And using Teams integrated with Windows 11 Pro for business offers several confidence-building features.
- Protect data on every device with enterprise device management
- Stay focused on meetings with intelligent noise canceling and dynamic background blur
- Manage the mic with the taskbar-integrated mute/unmute function
- Show files in an instant through the taskbar
Improved touch and pen support
Windows 11 makes life easier for users who want to take notes, draw, and annotate documents with the touch of a finger or pen. This boost in OS support helps improve collaboration and increase productivity.
Enhancing Hybrid Security
One of the biggest concerns with hybrid work is security. The shift to remote work has been a welcome change for cybercriminals who want to exploit remote system vulnerabilities. Windows 11 offers next-level security to counter these threats.
Zero-Trust security model
“Zero Trust” means no user or device anywhere can have access until safety and integrity are proven. It’s an evolution in cybersecurity that’s based on three principles:
- Verify explicitly: Authentication and authorization should be determined using all available data points
- Provide least-privileged access: User access should be limited with just-in-time and just-enough access
- Assume breach: End-to-end verification encryption and analytics should be used to gain visibility to improve threat detection and defenses
Windows 11 advances security even further with built-in protections.
- Microsoft Pluton Security Processor: The only security processor regularly updated with key security and functionality improvements
- Smart App Control: Blocks untrusted or unsigned applications to prevent users from running malicious applications
- Microsoft Defender SmartScreen: Provides built-in enhanced phishing detection and protection by alerting users if they’re entering their credentials into a malicious application or hacked website
Encryption and data protection
Wherever people travel with their devices, so goes their confidential information. That data must be protected against unauthorized access. Whether it happens through device theft or malicious applications, it poses significant risks. Windows 11 features three safeguards for this sensitive information.
- BitLocker Drive Encryption: This data protection feature addresses the threats of data theft or exposure from lost, stolen, or inappropriately decommissioned computers
- Encrypted hard drive: This new class of hard drives is self-encrypted at a hardware level. It enables BitLocker deployment to be expanded across enterprise devices with little to no impact on productivity
- Email encryption: Windows 11 allows users to digitally sign email, which verifies the sender's identity and ensures it has not been tampered with
Malware attackers frequently exploit driver vulnerabilities and even the system's security solutions to compromise them. Windows 11 includes, by default, these malware protection measures:
- Virtualization-Based Security (VBS): VBS isolates a segment of system memory from the rest of the operating system. It then secures that space to store security solutions – the prime targets of most malware attacks
- Hypervisor-Protected Code Integrity (HVCI): This VBS feature protects the isolated system memory from being used by outside attackers to exploit the system. It helps ensure all drivers loaded onto the OS are signed and trustworthy
- Windows Defender Application Control (WDAC): WDAC protects devices against malware by blocking all vulnerable drivers that bad actors can exploit. This prevents malicious code from ever running on Windows 11 devices
Secure sign-in and a controlled sandbox
There are two additional security features in Windows 11 that we’re excited to see.
This enhanced security feature allows users to sign in to their Windows 11 devices using a PIN or biometric authentication in the form of a fingerprint or facial recognition. Windows Hello improves security by reducing end users’ reliance on passwords that are easier for cybercriminals to hack.
Developers are undoubtedly familiar with working in a sandbox environment. It’s a controlled and isolated environment where they can safely test their code, applications, or software without affecting network resources, user data, or local applications.
Windows Sandbox serves the same purpose: creating a secure environment where users can safely run potentially harmful applications or files. Note, however, that Windows Sandbox is not included in the Windows 11 Home edition as of this writing.
Simplifying Hybrid Deployment and Management
Deploying and managing devices in a hybrid work environment can be complex, adding pressure to IT departments already spread too thin.
- 53.4% of IT professionals say their biggest challenge is managing remote and hybrid workers3
- And 2 out of 3 feel overwhelmed trying to manage remote work3
Windows 11 introduces several features to make life easier for IT professionals
Work with your existing apps and infrastructure
- Built on the consistent, compatible, and familiar Windows 10 foundation you know
- Enables you to plan for, prepare, and deploy Windows 11 just as you do today with Windows 10
Take a flexible path to cloud management with Microsoft Endpoint Manager
- Secures, deploys and manages all users, apps, and devices without disrupting existing processes
- Enables comprehensive Windows 11 management, simplifying automated provisioning, configuration management, and software updates for all your endpoints
- Maximizes your return on investment by letting you take advantage of existing investments to modernize the user experience with Microsoft 365 cloud telemetry
Move to Universal Print via the cloud
- Enables simple, rich, and secure printing experiences while reducing time and effort for IT
- Eliminates the need for on-premises infrastructure
- Enables IT to manage printers directly through a centralized portal
- Allows your workforce to print from anywhere when connected to the internet and authenticated to Azure AD
- Protects your documents and data in accordance with Microsoft data management guidelines
Deploy devices with cloud configuration for endpoint management
- Makes it easy to transform Windows 10 and Windows 11 PCs into streamlined, easy-to-manage cloud endpoints
- Enables you to manage apps, users, and security from one unified endpoint management platform
- Features security built into Microsoft 365 and Windows 10/11 to help protect your workers, data, and company assets
Three additional features also got our attention:
- Allows IT administrators to deploy devices without manual configuration
- Streamlines the deployment process, allowing IT teams to spend less time on device setup and more on other critical tasks
Improved update management capabilities
- Helps streamline Windows 11 updates with smaller update sizes and quicker installation times
- Reduces users' time waiting for updates to install, improving productivity
Azure Virtual Desktop
- Provides a scalable and secure virtual desktop environment in the cloud
- Especially handy for businesses that require remote access to corporate resources
In conclusion, Windows 11 has positioned itself as a leading operating system for hybrid work. Its features make it easier for businesses to adapt to the new way of working. As more companies adopt hybrid work models, Windows 11's features will continue to be essential for enhancing productivity, improving security, and simplifying deployment and management.
With Windows 11, the hybrid work culture has been reshaped for the better. Businesses can confidently march forward in this new era of work.
- Abby McCain, “30 Essential Hybrid Work Statistics : The Future of Work.” Zippia, Feb. 20, 2023 (accessed March 20, 2023).
- Microsoft, “2022 Work Trend Index: Annual Report.” 2022 (accessed March 21, 2023).
- JumpCloud, “Creating a New Normal for SME IT in 2022: Security, Scalability, and Hybrid Work.” 2022 (accessed March 21, 2023).