Preparing for Remote Work to Continue
What actions can employees, CTOs and CFOs take to ease the transition to potentially working remotely in the long term?
As the global pandemic continues and the economic uncertainty remains a constant during these unprecedented times, companies worldwide are trying to imagine the future after the coronavirus crisis subsides. Will they be prepared?
Businesses Will Keep Embracing Working Remotely
According to a recent Gartner survey, about 74% of companies plan to permanently shift at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to working remotely — even when the economy opens up again. This shows that working remotely might become the “new normal” sooner and on a larger scale. Google and Facebook have already announced they’re allowing many staffers to continue working remotely through the end of the year. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that Twitter employees can work from home indefinitely.
Employees Are Reluctant to Return to the Office
Polls and surveys also show that employees aren’t exactly rushing back to their offices either. One poll, for instance, shows that 64% of workers aren’t comfortable going back to the office for another month or more.
A recent Gallup poll also found that almost 60% of Americans currently working from home would prefer to keep doing after the pandemic subsides and the restrictions are lifted. Compare this percentage to the 40% who would prefer to return to the workplace.
What Your Employees Might Need From You
Working remotely, especially on the current scale, presents its own set of challenges. These challenges can include lack of immediate access to information, social isolation, distractions at home, and lack of face-to-face supervision. However, there are inexpensive and effective actions that leadership can take to keep things smooth and productive.
To support their employees, employers can do the following:
- Establish daily check-ins
- Have more than one communication technical option (email, phone, IM, video conferencing on several platforms, etc.)
- Provide rules and boundaries (keeping “office hours,” ways to communicate, deadlines, expectations)
- Create opportunities for remote social interaction (informal, non-work-related)
- Offer encouragement and emotional support.
How CTOs Can Reassess Their Tech Priorities
For most companies, one of the most important ways to ease into long-term remote work would be a toolbox assessment. Companies can give their workforce the IT tools they need, and stop using those that don’t add value. In other words, reassessing tech priorities and IT tools can help streamline processes and optimize productivity.
According to the May report from Gartner, IT spending worldwide is projected to reach $3.4 trillion this year, down 8% from 2019, while spending on public cloud services is expected to grow 19% this year.
CTOs have the following options:
- Implement remote-first practices, which ideally should include a clear understanding of how employees are using IT tools, and which ones they find difficult to use.
- Expand bandwidth and network capacity if necessary.
- Set up tools and processes, including essential tools for telecommuting that everyone knows how to use. Get rid of the ones that don’t work.
- Continue network monitoring, including connectivity between the remote components of the IT system. Monitor data consumption.
- Identify the security risks of the existing security infrastructure and make the necessary changes to update access and security policies.
- Have IT training available for the employees who need to get a better grasp on using devices and networks from home, as well as training on proper data use, data protection, and safe information exchange.
The CFOs’ Role
The Gartner survey mentioned in the beginning also shows how CFOs are shifting their priorities and strategies in order to stay operational during the COVID-19 shutdowns. According to the survey, 90% of CFOs said their accounting operations will be able to run effectively without disruptions off-site; and 81% of CFOs plan to exceed their contractual obligations to hourly workers, offering flexible schedules while working from home. To avoid layoffs, CFOs are also cutting costs by freezing hiring and travel expenses, and canceling all events, including conferences.
CFOs will also ultimately be in charge of working with their IT teams to ensure the company’s employees and contractors have the right equipment and the connectivity to be productive. This might mean reestablishing reimbursement policies regarding personal broadband connections, as some employees might not have adequate Internet access and home and will need to change their data plans, or invest in mobile hotspots.
Another question CFOs can be asking is whether the hardware can handle the workload and the traffic. Investing in training, best practices documentation, and tech support will also ensure that everyone is using the digital communication tools as intended. Tools that measure productivity can be used to provide visibility to management, while nurturing employees’ self-guidance.
A Word on Security
Employee use of personal devices and home or public Wi-Fi can create issues. Unsafe devices or bad actors can compromise the corporate network. Securing networks and creating multifactor authentication and tiered access to certain files, etc., can greatly reduce the risk of security breaches.
For more information on how you can make working remotely for your company more secure, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (318) 497-7230.