The American workforce is changing. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more U.S. workers were interested in remote work. What’s more, employers are often willing to offer remote work options — sometimes in lieu of other benefits — because of the advantages enjoyed by all parties.
But as remote work has grown in popularity, the need for improved IT services becomes more obvious. When more people are working from home, business operations become more vulnerable to security risks and other losses. And while some of this risk can be mitigated with proper training and equipment upgrades, there’s something to be said for bolstering your IT support to specifically address the unique requirements for remote work.
Fortunately, we’re able to provide the IT support Houston businesses can rely on — whether you’ve welcomed employees back to your offices or you’ll be continuing to work remotely for the foreseeable future. In today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at just how in-demand remote work opportunities are and what businesses can expect throughout 2020 and 20201. We’ll also discuss some IT support concerns that are specific to remote work and how an IT company can help you bridge those gaps to protect your organization, improve efficiency, and increase overall satisfaction across all channels.
The Prominence of Remote Work
Although remote work is nothing new, it’s certainly increased in popularity over the last few years (and months). Back in 2018, there were roughly 4.3 million remote workers throughout the U.S., making up 3.2% of the nation’s entire workforce. A report from Global Workplace Analytics found that 40% more American companies offered remote work options in 2018 than they did five years prior. What’s more, the number of remote workers increased by 140% since 2005. Recent data from Upwork suggests that 73% of all departments will have remote workers by 2028. And while large corporations are often lauded for their flexible work options, small companies are actually more likely to offer remote work options.
There are a number of reasons to offer remote work flexibility, of course. Whether you hire full-time remote workers or employees who have the option to telecommute as needed, business owners actually stand to benefit quite a bit by keeping their workers out of the office. FlexJobs data from 2018 shows that 75% of people say working remotely comes with fewer distractions, which can mean higher productivity levels for many. It’s also worth mentioning that 86% of people say working remotely can reduce stress. While that has positive impacts on the employees, it can also have ripple effects on the business itself; when staff members are less stressed at work, they’ll be less inclined to burnout and may be more invested in their current jobs. That can have a positive impact on worker retention and overall job satisfaction, consequently reducing the costs of turnover and improving company culture.
Of course, not every company was set up for remote work pre-pandemic. The U.S. workforce was already undergoing a major transition where remote work options were highly desirable. But since COVID-19 cases rendered many in-person business operations an unnecessary risk, businesses have either scrambled to offer remote work options or have embraced the remote work capabilities they already had in place. According to PwC’s U.S. Remote Work Survey from June 2020, around 55% of executives plan to offer the option to employees to work remotely for at least one day a week — even after the pandemic is over. That makes sense, as around 83% of workers want to continue working from home at least some of the time. Approximately 73% of executives surveyed said that their transition to remote work during the pandemic could be considered a success.
IT Support Concerns For Remote Workers
Despite the overwhelmingly positive feelings surrounding flexible work arrangements, there are a number of challenges associated with a fully remote workforce. Aside from the lack of in-person communication and collaboration, many businesses weren’t adequately prepared for employees to turn their homes until their makeshift offices. For example, around 28% of workers said they went into the office before the pandemic in order to use office equipment like printers. Interestingly, around 22% of employees said that their physical presence was required at work prior to COVID-19 because their necessary data had not yet been digitized. Poor access to necessary equipment and files remain a barrier for a significant portion of businesses.
Cyber security is another major concern. Already, more than 70% of companies say they aren’t prepared for cyberattacks. And according to an AT and T survey, 70% of large businesses feel that remote work options brought on by the pandemic make them more vulnerable to an attack. It’s important to note that those concerns aren’t necessarily misplaced. A report published on SecurityMagazine.com notes that 56% of employees were using their personal computers while working from home during the pandemic. In addition, almost 25% of employees working from home had no idea what kinds of security protocols their device had and around the same percentage had issues related to WiFi and antivirus software. Although 62% of work-from-home employees rated their in-house IT support response to the pandemic as being “above average” or better, it’s clear that subpar network connections, unprotected devices, and the use of collaboration apps can increase tech risks for businesses all across the nation.
How Better IT Support Can Facilitate Success in Your Remote Workplace
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that businesses need to embrace technology in order to survive. And while many businesses already had in-house IT support systems in place prior to the pandemic, that doesn’t necessarily mean they were prepared for this colossal shift in workflow. Whether you hire additional IT support personnel in-house or you determine that outsourcing your needs to an IT company is a better option for your needs, there’s no doubt that you could benefit from focusing on this area for the sake of both your remote workers and your business as a whole. Here are just a few of the ways IT companies can improve your remote workforce experience.
- Security: The emphasis on cybersecurity will only continue to grow, particularly if the U.S. endures a second wave of the novel coronavirus. In times of economic downturn, cyberattacks only become more prevalent. Without a solid IT support foundation, remote workers may be unknowingly exposing their devices and proprietary business data to a breach or other type of cybersecurity risk. An IT company can establish the best practices and controls for remote devices, software, and networks to ensure compliance and proactive response.
- Productivity: Working remotely can increase productivity — but if employees are being bogged down with IT concerns, they won’t be able to do their jobs effectively. Troubleshooting as a means of IT support can become more difficult when employees aren’t able to describe or physically show what they’re experiencing to your tech team. But working with an IT company that specifically addresses remote workplace concerns can allow these problems to be solved efficiently and prevent delays, downtime, and other concerns.
- Culture: Maintaining a strong culture can be a problem with a fully remote workforce. Although this a perk many employees want, it can be a challenge to collaborate and communicate with others through a screen. That said, boosting the amount of IT support you can provide to your remote workers can go a long way in reducing frustration and stress. The better you take care of their needs, the happier they’ll be in their jobs. Rather than letting your remote workers fend for themselves and deal with the technical fallout, you can keep problems to a minimum while you keep them invested in their work. At a time when there’s already so much to worry about, they’ll be thankful that their work operations will go relatively smoothly.
If your business is offering remote work in any capacity, you’ll need strong IT support to address the interests of your employees and your business as a whole. To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team today.