Keeping staff engaged and productive while remote working

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As we’ve seen in the previous articles on remote working and building better business continuity, the challenging conditions of 2020 have changed how we work, and for many of us, working remotely is the way forward. That has had a substantial impact on IT environments and the priorities of enterprises of all sizes, but there’s one other piece of the puzzle — the “soft” impacts of remote working on staff, and how to manage that to maintain productivity, efficiency, and morale.

Earlier this year, a study found that over half of employees were feeling “burned out” by their jobs, and the principle causes of this were the lack of separation between work and life, and an unmanageable workload. The problem that many organisations have faced is that through the mad scramble to enable remote work as social distancing and lockdowns became mandatory, the focus was on work enablement rather than developing policy and providing tools that would allow for the work to be done in a sustainable, manageable way. With remote work being here to stay, the next step for organisations will be to focus on the human and management side; to build policy around remote work best practice and leverage IT in a strategic way that supports the policy.

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Addressing the change management challenge

For remote working to deliver the benefits it promises, the first priority needs to be to provide employees with true autonomy. This is a challenge for many enterprises, with a Dell white paper finding that 27% of employees felt like they did not have the flexibility to decide where to work, while 22% of employees don’t feel free to express their ideas, innovate, or take risks. At the same time, 18% of respondents said they believed they did not have adequate support for remote work. Employers that are unable to get on top of these challenges also quickly run into meaningful business problems, according to the same study, which found 16% of employees did not feel valued by the company, and 19% reported that the attrition rate at their organisation had increased.

It is one thing to transform the IT environment to deliver secure solutions to remote working, but it’s another matter when it comes to shifting applications and workloads to the cloud. This is, of course, critical from an enablement perspective, but there is a second consideration that needs to be followed on; once employees are able to work remotely, the next priority needs to be focusing on the workplace experience.

This is an end-to-end challenge that IT needs to look at holistically. One step is to modernise the PC lifecycle management (PCLM) process so that broken and old devices are replaced quicky. A PC-as-a-Service (PCaaS) solution helps IT organisations to maintain a diversified environment where they may not have direct or easy access to equipment.

Elsewhere, it’s important to both focus on the digital workspace and consolidate the working environment to a single platform that can be accessed across any devices. Modern application delivery to the digital workspace environment requires a modern technology and architecture backbone that can deliver these experiences seamlessly. It also needs to be able to adapt to changing working behaviours.

What the home office should look like

The “home office” is something of a misnomer; by adapting digital workspace and endpoint devices best practice, supported by a robust technology platform, it is possible to work from anywhere. From the home office, to a café, or even at a pool while on a tropical holiday, the focus should be on  the individual’s working experience looks like.

The modern “home office” is a highly connected environment in which the employee has ready access to their co-workers and entirety of their work. This means leveraging cloud-based productivity applications and shifting away from email as a dominant communication platform for internal collaboration towards cloud-based tools that consolidate unified communications, document sharing, and messaging all into the one login.

Employees are also greatly worried about their place within their teams and the broader environment, and the combination of working too hard — for fear that their contributions to the organisation are not being noticed — and working from a sense of isolation can be ruinous to their morale. Organisations need to take a new look at how KPIs are set and their promotions system, as a common concern among professionals is that remote working will cost them visibility when it comes to career development.  At the very least, daily morning video meetings across the entire team should be standardised, as much for the social interaction that they provide as for the productivity benefits.

For an organisation to be successful with remote work, it requires a combination of technology modernisation and policy shifts, to ensure that not only are employees able to work productively, but they continue to feel like they are a fully integrated and valued part of the organisation.

Dell Technologies Re-Evolution Virtual Experience. October 14 & 15. Register now.  

This 2-day virtual event will target medium business customers to discuss the key market trends shaping today’s digital economy, the latest advancements in technology and how businesses can remain efficient, agile and competitive during these times. The first Keynote speaker on Day 1: Workspace, Redefined (on 14th October) is the infamous Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki. On day Two: the next normal (on 15th October) we have Genevieve Bell as the keynote speaker. 

Attendees will also hear from Robert Vinokurov, Adrian Iannessa and Aarron Quach will discuss the changing dynamics of the workforce.  To top it off, we will have a leaderboard competition on both days with lots of prizes up for grabs. The major prize is the Dream Remote Working Setup, valued at AUD $8500 which includes a Latitude 7200 Laptop, Dell UltraSharp 49″ Curved Monitor, Dell Thunderbolt Dock, Keyboard and Mouse, Alienware wireless gaming headset and a Dell Portable Power Companion (rated at 18000mAh).

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