Going Remote: How to Solve the IT Challenges of a Growing Virtual Workforce

It’s too late to turn back the tide. Working remotely is a trend that has grown past the point of being a short-term fad with unknown long-term consequences. At this point, including a virtual workforce as part of a corporate staff is the norm.

Performance output is 13% higher when employees work remotely, concluded the authors of a research study released by Stanford University in 2015. Perhaps more importantly, the research indicates that within the study group the work satisfaction rate was so much greater it reduced job attrition by over 50 percent.

Those results help explain why nowadays 70% of people work remotely at least one day a week and 53% do so at least half of their work week. The corporate social trends of greater concern for increasing staff wellness and decreasing global carbon footprints are factors that should accelerate the rate at which those percentages continue to grow in the foreseeable future.

The rapidly rising cost of both residential and commercial real estate, especially in heavily-populated coastal cities, will also play a significant role in determining how much physical space a company requires (and can profitably afford) at its headquarters and other office locations.

Likewise, the workers who are most in-demand have considerable leverage in determining where they want to live and work, so companies will need to be even more accommodating in that regard if they want to hire and retain the most talented people in their industry.

THE CHALLENGES OF AN INCREASINGLY REMOTE WORKFORCE

If you’re familiar with the difficulties of keeping a corporate IT system up-to-date, you already know the added challenges and degree of difficulty a large remote workforce brings to the task.

Those additional challenges include securing all of the on-site and off-site devices connected to your network, governance of your corporate data, and technically supporting all of the team members and devices with access to your system.

IMPROVE YOUR SECURITY

As ransomware hackers attack government agencies and corporations with ever-increasing frequency, the need for implementing maximum network security protocols has never been greater, Unfortunately, that need will only increase each day.

To combat this hacker scourge, it’s imperative for businesses to proactively improve their defensive network technologies – and their employee security-awareness training – before they discover the unfortunate consequences the hard (and expensive) way, like the city of Baltimore and many towns in Texas.

IMPROVE YOUR DATA GOVERNANCE

If an organization’s digital information isn’t properly managed, it’s almost impossible to meet its legal and regulatory obligations. For example, how difficult – or impossible – would it be to survive if you didn’t have accurate and easily accessible payroll records? Or, if your competitors had access to your insufficiently protected proprietary intellectual property? 

When you throw into the mix all the other information a thriving company handles, it’s easy to see the need to establish efficient data governance protocols, based on proven best practices.

If you’re in the healthcare, financial, or other regulated industry, you’ve already implemented many necessary steps to maintain compliance. Or have you? Regardless of your specific industry, will the steps you’ve taken up to this point be enough to meet the data governance challenges ahead?

IMPROVE YOUR TECHNICAL SUPPORT

When your light bulb suddenly burns out, it’s difficult to see. But replacing a burnt-out bulb is simple (no jokes, please). When your business computer or mobile device suddenly goes down, it’s not so easy to keep working – and it’s usually a hassle (and costly) to bring it back to life, if possible.

If it’s your team’s responsibility to back-up and resurrect off-site devices, the fix becomes that much more difficult. With the increase of remote staff members comes the increased need to solve the variety of problems associated with all their devices, which need continual maintenance and sporadic repairs.

IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

So, how do you efficiently (and cost-effectively) solve the increase of problems affecting your network – and the increase of devices connected to it – which are caused by the growth of an expanding remote workforce?

At Van Ausdall & Farrar, we approach remote workforce problems the same we approach all the issues associated with business technology: we conduct a thorough assessment of the current environment in relation to future goals; then we devise a technology improvement roadmap that grows in accordance with changes in the business landscape. And we always keep cost in mind, because a solution you can’t afford isn’t a viable option.

REAL SOLUTIONS FOR REAL PROBLEMS

The technology improvement roadmaps we develop focus on four critical areas of business:

  1. Information – Managing and transporting the information that flows into, around, and out of an organization is the core of any business. How easy it is to locate and securely use pertinent business information determines productivity and profits. As your staff transitions to a more remote workforce, it becomes necessary to understand how you use the information management lifecycle from inception to completion; how you maintain data security and compliance; and how you can integrate an on-site and cloud infrastructure to best utilize the information.
  2. Communication – As everyone knows, communication is the key to success. When an increasingly remote staff is involved, communication is that much more important to effective collaboration. To meet an organization’s changing communication needs, an appropriate response requires the right combination of network, telephone, and security solutions that are flexible, scalable, and affordable.    
  3. Print – As digital documents and signatures become more prevalent, printed documents still have an important role in business. When those documents need to be printed and/or copied by a remote workforce, it becomes imperative you have stronger security solutions and proactive document management processes in place. As your remote staff becomes larger and more distant physically, it will become more important than ever to regulate and keep track of what is being printed and where, as well as to keep up-to-date with the latest equipment and software that helps protect against data and security breaches. 
  4. Process  As the world becomes more complicated, so do the processes needed to solve modern-day problems. If your technology is outdated, your solutions will probably be outdated too. To keep current (and stay profitable), you need to integrate the solutions for the three critical areas mentioned above – Information, Communication, and Print – into a coordinated solution that covers: content management, facilities management, print fulfillment, document conversion, and voice processing.

EVOLVE OR EVAPORATE

Your organization’s future success may depend on how quickly and effectively you adapt to the shifting needs of your remote workforce. If you don’t evolve soon enough to meet those needs, your ability to compete may evaporate into thin air, along with your most-talented employees who head off to work for your competition.

To better understand how technology can improve the productivity of your increasingly remote workforce, and where you should start focusing your attention to make those improvements, spend about 10-15 minutes to take our VF Technology Strength AssessmentTM. Acquiring a little bit of self-awareness today can go a long way toward becoming a stronger IT administrator tomorrow.