Remote work arrangements seem like they are here to stay, but are they feasible? Before the pandemic, only a handful of companies advocated for a remote workforce. 43% of US companies enabled some degree of remote work for their employees in 2019, while startups and small-medium enterprises encouraged telecommuting. This encouragement was due to the companies lacking the physical space to accommodate a vast team.
Consequently, huge companies tend to offer this arrangement as a benefit or an occasional perk. However, most businesses frown upon this idea due to untested beliefs that collaboration across departments is more comfortable to sustain when employees are physically together. At present, the crisis with COVID-19 has tested these beliefs and could lead to substantial workplace policy changes in the future.
To be able to succeed in remote work arrangements, the adequate technical infrastructure is crucial. This adequacy fosters secured access to services and necessary information needed to support employees despite the distance. Thanks to the evolving technology and Managed Service Providers (MSPs), most companies can now administer office tasks while at home. This article will discuss the five ways the right IT service provider can support a remote workforce.
Many professionals preferred telecommuting positions long before the pandemic. Parents have more flexibility to address childcare issues, and employees that prefer a very informal work environment can work in their most ideal environment (home). Therefore, remote work offers flexibility without having to compromise productivity.
IT service providers can provide a comprehensive desktop infrastructure to support such arrangements. Both Microsoft 365 and Google for work offer complete software applications that let employees communicate, access data, and complete their tasks regardless of their location. Microsoft 365 Teams application allows consistent communication across office departments. Another significant feature of these programs is that you can access it anywhere, you have an internet connection, and while you’re on-the-go. These programs also have Android and iOS apps to let users access data using their phones and tablets.
In the current digital age, IT support teams can reach out to the workforce in real-time. They can seamlessly resolve issues even if both parties are in different locations. IT service providers set up relevant cloud tools to make this possible. These tools go hand-in-hand to allow the workforce to conduct business activities remotely. A simple phone call between the IT support staff and the individual experiencing issues is typically sufficient to resolve most potential problems. Additionally, IT teams are typically more efficient when working at home, as studies have shown that IT staff thrive in remote working environments.
Security & Compliance
Security and compliance are the most significant concerns of many businesses that make them hesitant to transition. If you commit to a remote workforce, it can be challenging to manage the security protocols. This concern is especially relevant to a possible breach of confidential business plans, strategies, employees’ data, and safety. It poses harmful risks, but a trusted IT service provider can mitigate this risk significantly. They can install security tools to strengthen the protection of your office network. IT service providers can also provide routine monitoring to check for any harmful threats.
Other than that, the distance can also make it harder to protect your employees’ devices. When hackers access these devices, they can potentially gain access to your corporate network and damage your business operations. This threat can also make your network environment vulnerable to ransomware attacks and malicious emails. You can prevent this from happening if you have IT service providers that track your network security. They can install efficient anti-virus and anti-malware software across your workstations.
IT service providers integrate multiple security layers to protect your entire IT infrastructure. Additionally, they will regularly backup your data in case of a worst-case scenario. This failsafe allows your employees to quickly recover data even if the device and application crash or if their devices are hacked.
These security protocols allow you to meet security compliance regulations. When your protocols are compliant, you are adequately diminishing your risk. You can rest assured knowing you have taken steps to ensure the protection of your files, customer data, and software at all times.
Robust IT Support
Even the most straightforward issues can hinder the employees who are working at home. If their emails or applications are lagging or their computers aren’t working, they can’t do their jobs. This problem is why robust support from your IT service provider is critical. They must be available for your employees to ensure the issues can be resolved right away and get back to work more quickly.
Despite the distance, robust IT support can be possible if companies develop an organized system to resolve IT issues. IT service providers can provide troubleshooting steps for common IT-related occurrences. They can also offer an on-call support desk for emergencies and quick resolution times.
Having a reliable IT service provider can alleviate your remote workforce’s burden, especially your in-house IT team. You can delegate time-consuming tasks to your IT partner to let your internal IT staff focus on business-specific projects. Not only can it promote a work-life balance, but also sufficient resolutions without compromising employee productivity. The right IT provider can handle out-of-office issues due to extensive experience in the field, making them suitable for the job.
Promote a Supportive Culture Amongst Employees
Your workforce is the foundation of your business, and the company culture is its cornerstone. The current crisis attests to your values as a leader towards your workforce. In these trying times, your employees look up to you on how you will provide continuous support. A supportive culture fosters loyalty and employee satisfaction to facilitate harmonious business operations.
IT service providers can help you promote a supportive culture through their continued guidance and assistance. Small but meaningful actions such as being readily available for them can lift spirits.
Cultures based on values should accompany appropriate employee recognition. Small but meaningful actions to surprise and delight your colleagues, such as sending a gift in the mail, can lift spirits and communicate to them that what they do matters and that they are always appreciated. Not only can it resolve issues quickly, but it also makes them feel appreciated. We all need to stick together to get through this, after all.
Consistent Collaboration and Communication
When your workforce is remote, collaboration across departments can be difficult. Employees cannot directly ask questions from their co-workers. Teams cannot arrange physical meetings in compliance with social distancing protocols. Constructing emails takes time, and waiting for responses can take even longer. Many businesses replace fundamental interactions with virtual meetings making convenience and reliability essential to keep the operations afloat.
Distance is no problem when it comes to today’s technology. Real-time collaboration can still happen using both Microsoft 365 and Google for Work’s real-time collaboration solutions. Your IT service providers will also suggest other collaboration tools for your remote workforce. This communication method allows you to empower your remote workforce while maintaining consistent collaboration.
In conclusion, many factors need to be considered part of a successful work from home strategy; however, with the right IT partner, you will address the security and service issues while providing a flexible work environment that will garner employee loyalty, productivity, and overall business success.