5 reasons companies are abandoning USBs for WFH

USBs (as well as most hardware) by their nature always have a possibility for failure, or damage and are dependent on logistics that we have seen are easily disrupted organizations are modernizing their infrastructure because the workforce is no longer within 10 Kilometres of the main office, where employees can span past international borders. We would go as far as to say mounting an OS on a USB and sending it to your remote employees is akin to stubbornly only using CDs when music streaming platforms are more convenient and efficient. So why are companies abandoning USB-mounted operating systems?

1. Cost

Fundamentally the issue we can all understand with USB mounted operating systems is the cost of acquisition and distribution. The full cost of enterprise-ready USB solutions varies, often they scale down if an organization uses them for a number of years (again this is dependant on the solution provider). Generally speaking in the first year, the cost of: purchasing, storing, and shipping these devices (taking logistics and fuel costs into account) is substantial.

2. High USB failure rate

USB mounted operating systems have, on average, a failure rate of 30%. These devices must be retrieved and replaced – the cost impact alone of this can be substantial.

Aside from this, the failure rate of these USB solutions also negatively impacts attrition rates in organizations, especially pre-day 1 attrition. This is due to agent frustration at the inability to work and the delay involved in waiting for a replacement.

3. Not Environmentally Friendly

In 2022 it is difficult to justify the manufacturing of surplus electronic devices solely for use in remote working environments, (and with an average 50% return rate for these USB devices, this is not simply a case of purchasing once and reusing the USBs) we cannot ignore the fact that the components used to make modern electronics are both damaging to the environment and are limited in terms of supply.

On top of this, the carbon emissions caused by delivering these devices to the remote employee’s location can be substantial. Delivering thousands of devices two or three times a year can no longer be considered a green activity when so many software-based solutions are available.

4. Logistics

On average, the time employees will spend waiting on their USBs to arrive is around 2 days (with recent shortages, some note that it can take all the way up to 4 weeks.) In many organizations, speed is key, whether it be to decrease attrition rates, or maintain competitiveness, employee downtime should be avoided wherever possible.

The complexities of logistics when it comes to USBs do not stop when they arrive at the employee’s location. As mentioned earlier there is a 30% failure rate on these devices, requiring reverse logistics and re-shipping of new USBs.

There is also only a 50% overall return rate upon completion of contract, as it is much easier for an employee leaving a company to hold onto a USB rather than a laptop. We have also seen that companies must hire excess staff in order to simply manage the operational and logistical requirements of shipping USBs at a scale.

All these combined showcase one of the most inefficient parts of USB deployment, the slow, and expensive, delivery process.

5. User Experience

USB mounted operating systems are very complex to those with no IT knowledge. These solutions require the user to launch into the startup BIOs options of their PCs in order to even begin working, for many this is not an easy concept to grasp, especially in the initial onboarding stage. With USB devices, IT onboarding takes about one-two hours of support per agent, this leads to frustration both from the IT team as well as the employee being onboarded, to the point where employees have been known to simply quit before it is even over.

60% of agents in BPOs and contact centers will quit, increasing pre-production attrition, due to the complex nature of USB mounted operating systems. In a reducing pool of skilled workers, this is something that should absolutely be avoided.

“(Secure Remote Worker) was a highly superior option compared to USB-based operating systems, which required constant handholding that resulted in hours of IT support per agent.” – Marcelo Parodi, Vice President of IT, iQor.


So when all is said and done – companies are beginning to see that USBs are a major step backwards in the modern world, due to a combination of cost, failure rates, environmental issues, logistics issues, and a difficult user experience. Are there specific use cases for USB deployment? Certainly, just as there are use cases for a CD.

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