Remote working, which once had several taboos associated with it has become an integral part of today’s business landscape. The millennial corporate world observed a gradual but constant surge in remote working since the early 2000s.
A report by Global Workspace Analytics suggests that even before the world was hit by the pandemic, employees were not at their office desks 60% of the time, they were already mobile. Remote working, however, skyrocketed further after the emergence of the recent pandemic.
Today, almost all businesses support remote work and it is now a mainstream corporate lifestyle. Because remote working is currently dominating the corporate world, businesses need to know the strengths and challenges that it brings about.
Business Benefits of Remote Working
The corporate world has experienced several benefits of remote working from the perspectives of both, the employees and the employers. Employees have enjoyed the liberty to work from anywhere, attain higher levels of work-life balance and save time on the daily commute to the office.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that employers have witnessed.
- Costs saved on office spaces - Adopting a remote working environment means allowing your employees to work from their homes or any location of their choice. While this is an obvious benefit to the employees, businesses too benefit greatly since it helps them cut back on their hefty rents paid for office spaces. Leasing office spaces involves huge investments, with a completely remote workforce, businesses save a considerable amount of money.
- Reduced equipment costs - Another major trend that the corporate world has witnessed as a part of the remote work culture is the BYOD (Bring-your-own-devices) adoption, which allows employees to access corporate information and resources on their personal devices for work. BYOD is largely preferred by employees owing to the device familiarity, but businesses save huge costs as well, on purchasing individual smart devices for their entire workforce. Not just the costs of purchasing new devices, but also the costs involved in routine maintenance, updates, and repairs.
- Increased productivity - Allowing employees to work from home has helped them gain an added level of flexibility and save massive time and efforts spent traveling back and forth from the office. Moreover, allowing employees to use their personal devices for work, means allowing them to use a device of their choice. This has not only helped employees use familiar devices but also the most latest versions to help speed up processes and improve overall output. Improved productivity leads to improved profits.
- Access to a larger talent pool - Not being confined to specific office locations means that businesses can hire professionals from anywhere in the world. Remote working has opened up doors to a greater talent pool. Businesses are no more restricted to hiring just local residents, they can employ the best professionals in their field from any location in the world.
Challenges Faced by Businesses in Remote Working
In changing gear from traditional office working to remote working, global businesses have experienced both pros and cons of the remote work environment. While there are several benefits, as discussed earlier, there are also some critical challenges.
Allowing employees to step outside office premises with sensitive business information, poses huge risks of a data breach. Furthermore, as the workforce is spread across geographies, businesses find it difficult to provision and deploy employees’ devices with corporate settings remotely.
Assessing employees’ performances was easier with traditional office culture. Remote working poses yet another challenge. Monitoring employees' performance, tracking employee productivity is a great challenge for businesses. While some businesses have observed a spike in employee productivity owing to workplace flexibility, several others have seen a massive drop in productivity due to a lack of monitoring and increased distractions.
Corporate data protection, device security, simpler remote device provisioning can all be achieved with automation and software. However, it is crucial for businesses to understand the reason behind the productivity drop in their remotely working employees.
Let’s look at a few strong factors that lower employee productivity in a remote environment.
Reasons for Productivity Loss in Remote Employees
Working from home or any other location is a great benefit for employees worldwide since it helps them gain a work-life balance, saves time on the commute, and offers greater flexibility of work in terms of space and timings.
Yet, several businesses have experienced a drop in employee productivity. Let’s understand why.
- Increased distractions - Working from offices meant being surrounded by professionals, all driven towards a common goal. However, working from home or any other remote location brings along the risk of distractions. Whether it is your family who lives in the same space as you work, or it is the comfort of working from your couch, all these factors can be huge distractions when working remotely.
- Reduced monitoring - Speaking of distractions, employees working from home sense a lowered monitoring of their performance or processes. It is always easier to monitor your workforce face to face, but remote working diminishes performance monitoring to a great extent. Employees may feel drawn towards spending excessive time with family or using entertainment apps and other websites that may not be related to work during their shift timings.
- Heightened feeling of disengagement - Businesses has a way of engaging their employees when working from offices. In the traditional office culture, employees meet their colleagues daily, enterprises have employee engagement programs, and much more. Alternatively, when working remotely, employees may feel detached and unheard, they may experience delays or obstacles in reaching out to their colleagues and superiors for guidance which may demotivate them and affect their performance.
- Inability to quickly fix technical issues - Remote working relies heavily on technology and digital devices. One can always expect device and network errors when using technology. In traditional office culture, your IT teams are responsible 24x7 to ensure the proper functioning of your systems and networks. But what happens when employees face a technical glitch when working remotely? Not all employees are tech-savvy enough to fix device and network issues by themselves. The inability to quickly resolve device errors leads to extended system downtime, followed by a loss in productivity.
- Lack of information access - Corporate information is extremely sensitive and businesses are constantly on the roll to keep their corporate data safe. A traditional office workplace is reinforced with several layers of security to ensure data protection. Access and exchange of information are relatively easy in an office workspace. However, when working remotely, businesses generally prefer the zero-trust approach in which employees have to undergo multiple steps of verification before they can lay hands on the business data. This makes accessing information complex, Furthermore, with employees scattered in multiple locations, there is always a possibility of data being siloed and improperly shared with every member of the team.
What Can Businesses Do to Improve Their Employee Productivity
Employers have the ultimate power to bring about changes that help their business improve their productivity. On ascertaining the reasons behind the drop in productivity, employers and managers can take measures such as organizing frequent catch-up sessions to improve employee engagement, creating well-defined work structures for better time management and preventing employee burn-out, offering timely encouragement and motivation to their employees.
However, these productivity improvement efforts can be taken miles ahead with the implementation of the right technology. Training and onboarding remote employees can be a huge challenge for enterprises. But with the help of a Digital Adoption Platform, you can be assured that your remote employees are onboarded quickly, effectively, and almost independently.
Training them is also a piece of cake with a DAP because they no longer have to raise tickets to resolve every little issue they face while using the software required to perform their tasks. A DAP helps build employee productivity by eliminating learning dependency and making them self-learn with the help of on-demand walkthroughs and training material. You can also ensure absolute process compliance among remote employees with the help of a DAP.
Modern-day cloud-based tools, such as Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions help businesses to a great extent to secure, monitor, and manage their devices in remote environments. You can adopt BYOD management to enable your employees to use their personal devices for work, you can remotely provision multiple devices or various types and OS with your corporate policies and resources.
MDM software also helps you to monitor the locations of your employees’ devices, restrict usage of inappropriate apps and websites on work devices, lock employees' devices in a single or multiple selective apps with Kiosk Lockdown and even reach out instantly when your employees encounter device issues.
The switch to remote working has not been easy for the corporate world. While businesses struggled to stay afloat, employees struggled to get accustomed to the “new normal”. Lowered employee productivity can be tackled with some changes in the management methods, as well as the implementation of the right tools such as a DAP tool and MDM solutions.
To successfully improve employee productivity, it is important for businesses to first identify and understand the underlying causes.
This is a guest blog by Shambhavi, Senior Content Writer, Promobi Technologies