When COVID-19 hit the U.S. many companies had to scale up their remote infrastructures to support home-based work. The surge in remote work was dramatic and unexpected, leaving room for performance issues, costs concerns, and much more.
Even post-pandemic, many companies plan to continue to allow employees to work remotely. Eighty-two percent of company leaders indicated they “intend to permit remote working some of the time as employees return to the workplace,” according to a Gartner survey.
If remote work is here to stay, it’s important you take time to evaluate your current virtual infrastructures.
Is your remote infrastructure solution cost-effective?
When stay-at-home orders were implemented, you may have had to scramble to ensure your employees were able to collaborate. Remote work requires a significant increase in support technology.
You may have had to issue new licenses or equipment. You likely expanded existing virtual meeting tool subscriptions or SharePoint sites.
In this necessary haste, it’s possible you weren’t able to evaluate the most cost-effective tools or subscriptions. In the beginning, these changes felt like a temporary solution to a temporary problem, and you have been able to absorb the costs.
The numbers have indicated that the workforce is likely to stay remote or partially remote for the foreseeable future. As you move into a long-term remote solution, you will want to assess your virtual tools.
Is your remote infrastructure scalable?
You potentially supported remote employees prior to the pandemic and then scaled up from a few remote employees to several hundred. Your network may not be optimized to handle such a significant increase.
A valuable assessment would be to examine your current environment for any gaps due to the increase and make any upgrades necessary to support long-term remote work.
What are your security protocols?
One major shift when moving to remote work is security. When employees were accessing information from company-issued devices on secure company networks, there was a level of security that was guaranteed. But when the pandemic hit, many employees didn’t have mobile, company-issued devices and began using their own devices on their home networks. These systems and devices have likely not been tested and secured.
You should re-evaluate your security standards and policies. It’s important to evaluate how your remote work infrastructure was implemented and:
- Are devices secure?
- How are you protecting your corporate assets on home networks?
- Do employees understand work-from-home security protocols?
- Are there multi-factor authentication technologies to make sure remote employees’ credentials are protected?
Have infrastructure practices been standardized?
When you launched remote work, your team may have needed immediate access to networks and virtual spaces that they didn’t have access to before. It’s time to take a step back and ensure standardized procedures across platforms and that you answer:
- Does everyone know security protocols for each system?
- Are communication standards clear for each platform?
- Do they understand the organization of files?
Are you using the full capabilities of your remote systems?
For most top executives, one of the key concerns of moving to a remote workforce is losing their company’s culture. Many of the existing meeting tools have features that allow engaging and meaningful collaboration.
During the quick deployment of these online tools, you and your team may not have had the time to explore all the available features. Once you know the full possibilities of each tool, you can determine ways to use them to reinforce and promote culture.
How do you measure productivity?
The work-from-home productivity debate has been ongoing for more than a decade. Most studies indicate work-from-home employees are more productive.
In fact, a Stanford study said, “remote workers demonstrated a productivity boost because they eliminated distractions like commuting into the office, changing their work hours to fit their schedules and worrying about being late.”
But how do you know if your employees are more productive at home? You can invest in options to track employees’ productivity and management while maintaining their privacy. The balance is important. You don’t want employees to feel as if their every keystroke is being watched, but you want to make sure they are using their time wisely.
It’s important to make sure your online environments are sized, designed, resilient, secure, and scalable. As remote work is the future, look for recommendations on how to expand to support virtual initiatives. Investing in scalable and secure tools now will save you time and money as the workforce continues to grow and work from home.
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