Tech has made remote work possible


Now how can it make it better?

Remote work has almost become one of those taboo subjects that people have very strong opinions on. You either love it, and think that it’s the only way to work, or alternatively, have the view that it is the worst concept since Facebook.

The thing is, whether you love it or hate it, like Facebook, remote working has changed how people live their lives. It has also revolutionized how businesses operate, how they communicate with their employees and engage with their clients.

Most of this has been made possible by technology, with various video calling and project management solutions making it easier for teams to collaborate while working from different locations. Now that these technologies have achieved a level of maturity, the focus is on delivering better user experiences. In this article we review how businesses and employees are managing remote working and how technology can make remote working even more efficient.


Key considerations for remote working

One of the primary reasons that employees prefer remote work is the flexibility that comes with it. Without the need to commute into an office on a daily basis, it frees up more time to spend with family, participate in fitness activities, or engage in a favorite hobby.

While the traditional corporate mindset sees these activities as superfluous and counter-productive, in reality they have a major impact on employee well-being. Turns out that leisure time and activities that promote well-being result in more productive employees.

At a time where companies are finding it hard to find the right talent, and budgets are constrained, having more productive employees is vital to staying competitive. Offering remote and flexible work is part of that.

The tech tools to support effective remote team collaboration are improving, offering greater management support. It takes some adaptation for traditional hands-on managers that like to see employees at their desks and keep an eye on project progress, but it’s not impossible. It just requires managers to empower their team more and trust them to get on with tasks.

The same project management and communication technologies that employees use at their office desks are as effective in a remote location. Embracing remote working can benefit both employees and companies. Establishing a company remote working policy can help ensure productivity and communication are maintained. It can also help businesses prepare for, and mitigate for possible security risks associated with remote working.

For example: A remote work policy may define if employees can work from literally anywhere, i.e. a home office, the corner coffee shop, or a beach villa in Mexico. This is an important consideration with regards to securing access to company systems and data. Validating access from a known location on a specific device in a private home is much simpler than identifying multiple devices on a public network.

This highlights that as much as remote working can be beneficial, it needs to be managed within a framework that focuses on accessibility and security as much as it does on employee well-being.


What could possibly go wrong with remote working?

One significant drawback of remote working is that securing access to company systems becomes more challenging. Threat actors continue to target employees through phishing emails and operating on public networks or multiple devices also increases risks. With remote working there are many more considerations that go into securing networks and devices.

Cybersecurity can get very complex when employees need to access company systems, but wish to do so from different access points and on different devices. Firewalls and even multi-factor authentication (MFA) aren’t always enough to authenticate users and keep systems secure.

Zero Trust technologies take the approach that every user and every device must be authenticated every time. This approach to security provides companies with flexibility in that the same authentication is required whether an employee is in the office or working remotely.

Technologies that take a unified approach to security can help manage the costs of a distributed workforce. Similarly, cloud platforms and project management solutions should be selected for how they can support collaboration and team management. Without this, communication can break down, leading to frustration and misunderstandings

A disconnect in teams is a very real concern for managers. As a result, a different management style is required where managers set regular times to check in with team members to ensure that they have what they need to be productive. Employees won’t always be proactive about asking for this and projects can quickly fall behind if issues aren’t identified early on.


Factors for remote working success

On a practical level, for remote working to be effective, IT networks need to be secure and reliable. To achieve this, careful consideration needs to be given to the system requirements of solutions. This includes factors such as how many people require access at any given time, how different levels of access are managed, and how information is shared. Basically, anything that could impact an employee’s ability to work.

Where IT departments are limited, there’s value in partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) that can help design, implement, and manage networks and/or security to support remote working. Their broader experience helps companies to avoid common pitfalls and in the longer term this pays off.

In remote teams there’s critical factor for success, and that is trust. Managers trust their team to know what they need to do and to ask for help if they need additional resources or support. It’s empowering for employees to be able to manage their own time and take responsibility for outcomes. It improves employee engagement and is one of the contributing factors to increased productivity.

This type of trust is built on the back of genuine relationships, where managers take the time to get to know their team and understand what’s important to them. While some people may question whether it’s possible to guide these relationships remotely, many companies are proving that it’s really not that hard when there’s an engaging collaborative management style as part of the company culture.


Tech is helping remote work become the new normal

While the debate on remote work is far from over, it’s certainly becoming normalized. The advancement of technologies is helping to support remote work, making it more effective. Concerns of security, reliable access, and the ability to collaborate are being addressed by cloud and security solutions that can be deployed in office and remote locations.

In addition, with specific skill sets in demand across all sectors, remote working broadens the talent pool significantly. Companies are no longer constrained by only considering candidates that are in the local area when remote working is an option. The dual benefit is the diversity of skills and perspectives that people from different geographical locations bring.

The general consensus is that remote work is here to stay. As technologies advance, many are geared to support remote working, providing secure and reliable access to employees. Whether or not companies succeed at enabling a remote workforce, will largely depend on their tech infrastructure, management style, and proactive approach to cybersecurity. In a marketplace where agility is key, the flexibility of remote working can help companies streamline costs and operations. The technologies exist to support this to help companies gain a competitive advantage.

Want to be featured on ChannelBytes?