All industries have been challenged to solve for business continuity during this frightening global pandemic. Impressively, many companies rose to the challenge and embraced a new “normal.” Yet, when the scrambling subsides, what we’ll be left with is a changed work landscape — heavy on remote work, but short on precedent.
As we think about the challenges in this new normal, here are some considerations around how we can support this future of work and make sure we’re focusing on our most valuable source of strength: our employees.
Security must be reprioritized
Security has been a critical factor for years; we’ve all seen the many data breaches in the headlines. But IT needs new thinking when we’re talking about a largely remote workforce. Unfortunately, we’ve seen organizations learn that lesson the hard way during the global pandemic with the use of technology that left users vulnerable.
Security for the remote workforce is freshly important today, as we consider the risks and potential pitfalls. For example, when employees were working within the traditional walls of an office, IT understood how to secure the network and infrastructure for easy accessibility — where they could be safe and productive.
But when they’re working from their homes or somewhere other than a corporate location, a whole new set of parameters comes into play. Do remote workers have a secure Wi-Fi connection? Are they using their own laptops and versions of software to connect with colleagues, or are they using the company’s virtual private network? If they have a tech support problem and think their security has been compromised, how do employees reach the help desk?
With all of that in mind, prioritizing security in this new normal is about choosing robust, secure solutions and then training employees on how to use the technology. Think about how security protocols and standards are applied, and if the solution easily scales. Also, consider how it will be supported by your IT team in this new normal. They will likely need remote monitoring and management capabilities.
Aside from just providing secure technology, leaders need to train their employees to apply behavioral best practices when using that technology. When it comes to training, make sure to include remote-work policies and easily referenced FAQs, so they can quickly get help to common questions and make sure that their setting optimize for the highest level of security possible.
The future of work requires unprecedented flexibility
LogMeIn recently conducted a survey among 2,250 global knowledge workers to get a better understanding about their perceptions around getting work done — both amid the coronavirus pandemic and in the future of remote work. It’s worth noting that 69% believe their companies have done a good or very good job of preparing them for productive remote work during the recent quarantine.
However, respondents note some challenges in working from home, including:
- Household distractions (45%)
- Poor team communication (40%)
- Lack of human interaction (37%)
- Technology restrictions (34%)
In the world of remote work, employees often juggle unusual “office” spaces around dining tables and makeshift desks, while keeping an eye on children, aging parents, or pets. Meanwhile, physical isolation from colleagues can create uncertainty, frustrations, and even burnout.
As you start shaping a roadmap for the future of work, think about the employee experience. Consider their new physical work environment — its limitations and benefits — and try to minimize technology obstructions that reduce productivity. For example, how will the investments you made for their on-premises office environment adapt for a remote workplace?
Also, look for ways to support your IT team as they support remote workers. They too will be juggling distractions when working from home. Factor in how remote management and monitoring tools can help, as well as managed services that can serve as a flexible extension of your team.
COVID-19 has taught us that although we successfully and suddenly scaled to support an expanded remote workforce, there are still some issues to sort out for the new normal of the distributed workforce. As companies take a fresh look at their business continuity plans in light of the global pandemic, now is the time to shore up technology services to support employees and your IT team. Given the right tools and policies with built-in security and flexibility, knowledge workers can get their jobs done productively and confidently, knowing their IT department stands ready to support them in their shared mission.
This post originally appeared in a sponsored series on CIO.com.