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Four Keys to Supporting Today’s "Wherever, Whenever" Workforce

What are the four key elements of success for a remote work initiative?

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A. and I. Kruk

The top down model of telling your tech employees how to operate is done. Today, according to the Softchoice Collaboration Unleashed: Research Study, 85% of North American office workers expect their employers to provide technology that allows them to work from wherever they choose  Furthermore, the programming hub Stack Overflow saw more than one out of 10 tech workforce worked from home full-time with one out of three going remote at least a few days a month. Regardless of your opinion, tech-enabled remote and virtual working is now a regular topic at your business.

There are four keys to allowing location agnosticism while maintaining your technological integrity.

First, understand the dynamics mix unique to your business. How many are remote versus in-house? What percentage is on the road, emphasizing the need for mobile tech? It’s worth looking at other businesses: According to the State of Remote Work 2018, companies tend to fall at either extreme: a quarter have 0 to 10% of a virtual workforce and one-in-three have 90 to 100% of a virtual workforce. The latter group would be sensitive to how each type of worker (in-house, semi-remote, virtual, etc.) can easily collaborate and contribute to the company. The former group, however, has a minority of tech-dependent remote workers and would have to make a cognizant effort to make sure all were equally empowered.

Second, when it comes to working wherever they please, make sure that IT is on board with the approach. In a 2013 CDW survey, 1,200 IT professionals thought they did a superb job at supporting bring your own device initiatives, while 1,200 users graded IT well below in its execution.

It is the conflict between the CIO and his or her team being the visionaries versus being tech support. Both elements are necessary.

Third, make sure you have employee buy-in on the freedom available. Resistance is still high: Three out of four companies still don’t let their employees work from home full time, according to The Society of Human Resource Management. Don’t assume middle management or even the c-suite understand the importance of tech agnosticism and location flexibility to employee productivity, satisfaction and recruitment.

Fourth, realistic expectations need to be set before policies are put into place. Seventy-eight of remote workers experience frequent technical difficulties hurting the collaborative experience, potentially eroding productivity and hurting the very bottom line one hopes flexible working policies would increase. At the same time, according to the new CIO Tech Poll, only 16% of CIOs put mobile devices high on their tech initiatives (it is surpassed by business continuity/disaster recovery and data management/storage).

Remote access has never been more necessary to business, yet it is easier to prioritize blue sky, seemingly more innovative ideas. It is key to set expectations for non-tech workers so they understand that it won’t always “just work” and determine platform priorities based on what work functions are ideal, helpful or mandatory.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.