Even before COVID-19, remote work was on the rise:
- From 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work in the U.S.1
- 14% of Canadian employees work some or all of their hours at home. 2
- Globally, 52% of people work remotely at least once a week and 68% work remotely once per month.3
The coronavirus pandemic has driven global work from home numbers skyward. Since mid-February, 88% of global organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home.4 In Canada, 34% of people are working from home.5 Approximately 33% of Danish private sector employees6, and 76% of the Finnish workforce7, are doing the same. Moreover, in Ireland, an estimated 100,000 people have switched to remote work.8
Even in Japan, with its long-standing corporate culture of “showing up to the office”, 18% of businesses have implemented a work from home policy.9
This sharp rise in telecommuting is either a temporary blip, the new normal or a glimpse into the future.
Whatever your point of view, one thing is clear. Keeping remote workers connected, engaged and productive through technology is vital to business success.
Using Technology to Promote Employee Engagement and Productivity
Whether people are at the office or working from home, here are some basic employee engagement techniques organizations should focus on:10
- Providing clear expectations.
- Ensuring employees have the materials and equipment required for job success.
- Delivering recognition and praise for doing good work.
- Offering proactive and constructive feedback on a regular basis.
When employees are engaged, they feel “involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.” 11
They’re also more productive, too. Companies with high employee engagement are 22% more profitable than those without.12 While collectively, engaged employees save U.S. companies $550 billion per year.13
Here are a few ways to leverage technology to keep your remote workers engaged and productive:
Video conferencing: A quick daily video call provides valuable face-to-face time between remote managers and workers. It’s also proven to be 30% more effective to communicate and establish expectations versus audio only calls.14
Provide excellent IT support: As mentioned in Seven Strategies to Strengthen Your Business-Critical Mobile Operations to Weather COVID-19, and Beyond, at-home workers can’t swing by IT when their devices have problems. Using technology to remotely access, control, diagnose and resolve issues on devices like smartphones and iPads, ensures remote workers aren’t down too long when devices start acting up.
Productivity and feedback apps: When job functions or requirements change for remote workers, building apps without using a pricey third-party developer and deploying them quickly strengthens employee engagement. This is because they don’t have to wait for the new tools they need to do their jobs. Apps are also a smart way to collect timely feedback and to deliver and reward recognition for a job well done.
How Technology Enables Remote Workers to Connect and Collaborate With Each Other
One of the most cited issues with working from home is the inability for spontaneous collaboration amongst colleagues.
When ranked by type, adhoc brainstorm sessions were the number one most challenging meeting type for remote workers to participate in, while pre-planned collaboration meetings were the fourth most challenging.15
Although remote work is the new normal, it doesn’t easily allow employees to feel connected to each other or the company.
Maximizing technology goes beyond allowing remote workers to communicate with each other via email or chat. It encourages and fosters collaboration in a variety of ways:
Virtual whiteboarding where workers can see, annotate and contribute to a master document together.
Using a central digital workplace where remote employees can ask questions, share ideas, post helpful blogs and articles, and generally share information as if they were sitting next to each other.
Storing and sharing documents and images in a cloud-hosted app ensures everybody has access and nobody feels “left out” or “out of the loop.”
Securing and Protecting At-Home Workers from Cyberattacks
Cybercriminals are using the sudden surge of remote work to target people and companies.
At one point, the World Health Organization (WHO) tracked 2,000 COVID-themed websites online daily, many of which were malicious.16 Microsoft reported that approximately 2% of all email spam uses COVID-19 related content to lure people in.17
To properly protect data and devices, the responsibility must be shared between the employer and employee.
Work with your security teams to protect the health of your business-critical mobile operations. This includes closing data leak points and securing highly sensitive information and essential apps.
The network security being used in your enterprise environment should extend to all remote locations for your corporately owned or managed devices.
Protecting all devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets) and IoT endpoints, including printers.
Enforcing multi-factor authentication (MFA) to boost mobile security in a work-at-home environment.
The most common, and easily hacked password, is 123456.18 Use complex, hard-to-crack passwords and update them frequently.
Install patches and updates when they become available on any device, whether it’s corporately owned or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
Change your Wi-Fi settings and passwords to prevent unauthorized access to your home network.
Be wary of suspicious-looking COVID-19 based websites, emails and apps. If it looks strange or feels odd, don’t click, open or download it.
There is one thing companies and remote workers can do together to stay secure during COVID-19: communicate with each other frequently.
Whether it’s the business sending safety tips to its at-home workforce, or employees asking questions or seeking guidance, ongoing communication is crucial.
SOTI Helps You Support Your Remote Workers
Looking ahead, around 74% of Chief Financial Officers (CFO) expect that some of their employees who were forced to work from home due to COVID-19 will continue to do so once the pandemic ends, while 32% have deferred or plan to defer on-premise technology spending.19
As the mobile workforce grows and stabilizes, so will the need for reliable and secure Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM).
The coronavirus and sudden shift to work from home policies has caught many businesses off-guard. If you feel like you’ve fallen behind and are looking to catch up, SOTI can help.
The SOTI ONE Platform allows you to quickly build business-critical apps, manage and control mobile devices, instantly diagnose and troubleshoot device issues, gain detailed insights into the performance of your mobile deployments, and even take control of your IoT.
It’s a single tool designed to keep your remote workers engaged, productive, connected and secure through COVID-19 and beyond.