Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shifting the way we work, Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report revealed that 99% of remote workers say they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers. With both the rising demand for flexible work options and the new workforce reality facing companies all over the world, it’s clear that remote working is here to stay.
But a growing remote workforce, especially in today’s uncertain times, creates new challenges for IT departments that need to be addressed quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s increased network strains, security efforts, or internet bandwidth, accommodating for the IT needs of companies moving to a work-from-home structure is a big undertaking and poses new challenges many companies haven’t previously had to consider. While each function of IT will face its own unique challenges as companies adapt to a remote workforce, here are three areas of focus to help IT teams address these challenges and ensure success:
Increased Need for Collaboration Tools
Without a daily routine of going into the office, it is more important than ever to feel connected and be able to collaborate with colleagues. IT teams have been asked to make this successful for employees. Finding the right video conference programs or online chat systems isn’t a one-and-done process. Consider which software will run best with your existing programs, and which technology will be the most efficient for employees of all levels to adapt to and utilize.
Investing in a strong video conference and chat programs are important for the long-haul, not just as we weather the COVID-19 pandemic. With employees getting used to virtual sessions, business travel may be reduced in the future, and workers will grow accustomed to video meetings. If you don’t have a quality program in place already, put the time in to select the right applications to help colleagues collaborate, and ensure all employees know how to use the selected programs. In addition to finding efficient and easy to use programs, it’s essential to invest in secure applications and proactively provide employees with frequent tips on how to safely use them.
Strained Network Capacities
As organizations of all types have moved their employees to work-from-home structures, many are already feeling the strain on their network. With entire companies working from home, the level of remote connections could be five times more than what it would normally be. Existing systems likely don’t have the scale necessary to handle all employees working remotely, and VPN use can quickly overflow. As a result, IT teams are tasked with finding quick solutions to accommodate workers. Consider providing employees with information on which sites are secure enough to access without VPN connections, so it allows IT workers to buy time as they focus on expanding their network capacities.
Getting Tech to Employees
When employees use their own devices working from home, they often don’t have all the appropriate software or applications installed. Much of IT’s time is then spent trying to assist with devices and programs that are not within the infrastructure of their property. Put a plan in place to ensure remote employees have access to all the tools and devices they need through the company, such as laptops, phones or replacement tech.
One idea to explore is automated distribution systems like smart lockers or vending stations that can provide a safe and secure way to get employees the tools they need. For example, if an employee’s laptop crashes while they are remote, automated distribution methods can ensure the employee gets a loaner or replacement laptop quickly and securely, through a contactless exchange at an agreed-upon location or via a predetermined delivery method.
While each IT professional may have a different function or purpose to serve within their organization, the shift to a remote workforce has shaken up the typical day-to-day focus for many IT teams. As teams look to ensure companies are up and running, networks are accessible, and employees have the tech they need to do their work, IT teams are the key to ensuring companies are successful as they adapt to a changing workforce.