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Technology solutions providers (TSPs) who occasionally tolerated employees working from home in the past may find themselves forced to adopt the model to stay operational. Tech professionals represent a big part of “The Great Resignation,” as workers look for greener pastures during record-high job opening numbers. According to research by PwC, flexibility, including the ability to work from home, ranks fourth behind salary, benefits, and advancement opportunities as the reasons employees are looking for new jobs.
Start with the Right Infrastructure and Tools for Remote Work
You likely have virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), a virtual private network (VPN), Apple Remote Desktop or a Linux tool to enable team members to connect remotely. However, you may not have settled on a strategy that optimizes user experiences and costs. Talk to your team to understand if they have trouble connecting and working from home and whether making a change to enable better outcomes is the smart investment for the long term. Larger organizations may benefit from using a combination of solutions, for example, one for the development team working in the cloud and another for operations accessing on-premises systems. Weigh costs, capabilities, and compromises to determine the best plan for your business.
Additionally, if you have a call center, you may find value in using a Call Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution that gives your team voice, chat, email, and social media integration from a single platform. These solutions also include elements of gamification to keep remote call center employees on track as they work to get on a leaderboard or earn other recognition for their accomplishments. CCaaS solutions also make it easy for your managers to schedule employees or adjust workloads during peak times.
Your team may also need new tools for communication and collaboration. Without the ability to walk to a colleague’s desk to ask a question, your employees will need effective ways to connect and work together. Use caution, however. More isn’t better. A team that uses a collaboration platform with messaging capabilities, a separate messaging app, email (and email notifications), voice, video chat, and more can quickly swamp inboxes, and urgent items can get lost. Get everyone on the same page so that people know they can reach the right person and get the information they need.
Make Data and Network Security a Priority
If you are giving employees from all departments the choice of working from home at least part-time, it’s time to revisit your security policies. Your development and technical sales teams may be acutely aware of security risks and the most effective ways to protect your business from cyberattack risks – they may even help your clients with their security policies. However, your HR or marketing teams may not. It’s essential to establish rules addressing which computers or other devices your team can use for remote work, which applications are on those devices, and how to maintain them and keep current with security updates. Once you update policies to address remote work, train your team, explaining why they’re necessary to keep your business safe.
Likewise, moving to remote work also necessitates revisiting your backup and disaster recovery strategy. There may be more to back up, for example, Microsoft Teams chats or Sharepoint documents, that your organization didn’t rely on in the past. Ensure that if your team needs to recover data, wherever it’s stored or used, that they can.
Remote Workforce Best Practices
In addition to updating infrastructure and tools for a remote workforce, you also need to adapt how you manage your team. These four tips can help preserve company culture, productivity, innovation.
Rethink “hourly” work.
Holding a remote workforce to the 8 to 5 workday will be challenging to monitor and enforce. Instead, consider holding your team to deadlines, using data from past software releases to determine how long it should take them to accomplish projects rather than making them work within set hours.
Increase visibility and accessibility.
Ensure your employees can access all of the data they need to do their jobs from a computer or device they’re using remotely. If your employees need access to archived files or historical data, ensure they can retrieve it. This may take digitizing some data, and it will also take instituting and enforcing a Zero Trust policy. Employees should only have access to the data they need to do their jobs, limiting what hackers would be able to corrupt or steal if they acquired an employee’s login credentials.
Find an alternative to weekly or scrum meetings.
If your team touches base each morning or during a sprint, find a way to make this happen effectively when they aren’t in the office. You may need to provide more than a video conference platform. Consider a platform with a whiteboard, screen takeover, screen capture, and other features that make collaborating and planning easier for everyone involved.
Create new team-build opportunities.
Employees may like the freedom and flexibility of remote work, but they may not like the isolation. Managers should reach out to their teams to let them know they have support when they need it and plan activities that give remote workers a chance to connect.
How Remote Work Done Well Benefits Your Business
With the time you invest in creating effective processes, policies and support for your remote workforce, you can count on ROI. A September 2021 study from Owl Labs found 90 percent of employees who worked from home during the pandemic were as productive or more productive than when working in the office. Additionally, 55 percent of remote workers say they work more at home than in the office, and 76 percent say working at home after the pandemic would make them happier. Also, about one-fourth say they would quit their jobs if they couldn’t work remotely, and an extra 19 percent are undecided on this issue.
In addition to increasing employee retention and building a team of happier, more productive employees, remote work can also allow you to slash operating expenses by decreasing or eliminating office space.
Weigh the pros and cons of using a remote workforce and determine if following this trend is right for your business.