Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly every facet of our daily lives has been upended, and nowhere is this more visible than in work practices. As the lockdown continues, employees – where feasible – are working from home. However, the transition from working in an office environment to remote working is riddled with challenges, putting CIOs on the frontline to ensure that the business remains on track.
For many employees, this is their first attempt at working from home. To remain engaged and productive, they require the right tools such as a reliable network connection, peripheral tools, and the ability to communicate and collaborate as they did when ‘going to work’ meant travelling to their place of employment. For CIOs, overcoming challenges doesn’t end here; they also need to contend with numerous new cyber threats.
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Optimising the remote workplace
Whether you’re a CIO that has already transitioned employees to working from home or are in the process of fine-tuning your remote enablement strategy, there are basic technologies, processes and procedures that will ensure the shift is as efficient and seamless as possible.
With the unprecedented number of employees now working from home – putting a strain on networks – coverage can be patchy. To minimise work disruption and ensure audio and video quality, suggest that your remote workers use a wired connection when one is available. When Wi-Fi is their only option, they can boost the signal by updating the router’s firmware, replacing an older router with one that supports newer standards, or upgrading to a mesh-based Wi-Fi system, which optimises connectivity throughout the home. When employees encounter connectivity issues, be sure they know that they can and should call IT for any concerns or problems. At the same time, reinforce to your IT staff the importance of being patient and diligent in resolving issues.
Although employees are working from home, they still of course require secure access to information and data. Providing that access typically means having them leverage a virtual private network (VPN) connection. As the demand has surely multiplied, optimising your VPN host configuration, redundancy, and licensing ought to be on your checklist. Pulse Q&A surveyed 100 IT leaders, between 9 March 2020 and 13 March 2020, and discovered that only 57% of respondents believed that their technology stacks will allow for a complete work-from-home scenario.
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When employees don’t have the peripherals they need such as a headset, secondary display, keyboard, mouse, etc., they aren’t able to be as efficient and productive as they were in the office. Ensuring that they have the right technology can be accomplished in various ways. To determine the right course of action, be sure to partner with your HR and legal teams. This will help ensure that you’re following the correct safety protocols to provide remote workers with the technology they need.
Transparency and availability
Keeping remote workers engaged requires them to be able to communicate and collaborate as if they were in the office. This can be enhanced by incorporating video conferencing solutions, which enable remote workers to quickly and easily participate in meetings, conduct team briefings and remain an active contributor on projects. Due to stay at home ordinances, video conferencing is becoming a mainstay for remote workers. In fact, according to the Pulse Q&A survey, 77% of respondents are spending more on video conferencing tools.
In addition to video conferencing capability, apps that display visual indicators for employee presence and status, such as online and available, busy, in a meeting and at lunch, are helpful for signalling when colleagues and management are free to engage with. As you continue to build a remote culture, fostering active participation in virtual communications across teams and subgroups, and at all levels of the business, will help optimise collaboration and remote worker engagement.
It should come as no surprise that cyber criminals are quick to take advantage of negative situations such as COVID-19. This unfortunate circumstance should be a call to action to provide detailed guidance on what remote workers should be vigilant about.
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Be sure to keep the channels of communication open and advise employees on potential scams and cyber threats for both your corporate and their personal information. It’s also important that remote workers have clear instructions on what to do and who they should contact in the event of a real or perceived cyber incident.
As the future of transitioning from the office to remote work continues to unfold, being proactive is key to enabling a productive working environment, regardless of the employee’s location, and during this unprecedented time, many CIOs are putting work practices in place to foster productivity, collaboration and education.