Overcoming the top 3 challenges that hinder a thriving remote workforce

Summary: A recent Forrester report identifies the major roadblocks that inhibit remote work success and how organizations can develop a more flexible remote work strategy.


Most organizations have been forced to reconsider their flexible working strategies for the long term, particularly if they hope to achieve success in a post-pandemic world.

Man holding daughter while working at home

There are many advantages of implementing an effective remote work program such as driving growth, maintaining continuity of business operations and improving employee engagement and retention. But only if an organization’s in-office and remote workers are operating on a truly level playing field.

In a recent report, Forrester has identified the key roadblocks holding back remote workers—and where organizations can focus their efforts to develop a more successful remote work strategy.

3 challenges hindering remote work

Forrester identifies the key missteps organizations can make that act as barriers to employee engagement and productivity. They include:

01. Relying on suboptimal remote technology.

From having too many on-premises apps to lacking properly configured laptops, employees aren’t always equipped with what they truly need to work successfully from wherever they are. In fact, only 65% of US employees working from home agree their company has the technology resources in place to allow people to work from home if necessary1.

02. Ignoring structure and eligibility requirements.

Not everyone’s role is equally suited to remote work. Without consistent guidelines and a structured plan to accommodate a distributed workforce, the disparity of experiences can affect productivity—and build resentments that impact morale and collaboration.

03. Failing to address the remote work stigma.

 Forrester cites cultures “based on punching clocks rather than producing outcomes” as having generated inherent distrust in remote work scenarios. Some organizations may order (or shame) employees to come in even when telework is possible out of a belief that they’ll be more productive or effective—which, of course, can create the opposite outcome.

Creating the capabilities and adaptability needed for remote work success demands flexibility in an organization’s remote work strategy.

Flex your remote work approach

Rigidity isn’t the right answer. Forrester offers several guidelines you can apply in your organization to mitigate remote work challenges and set up a successful plan moving forward.

Create a structure for determining remote work suitability. 

Managers must be able to evaluate an employee’s ability to work virtually and provide employees with a clear understanding of what’s expected from them. A consistent system can help, with four attributes to consider: their role (is their presence required?), personality (will they struggle without in-person interaction?), performance (can they deliver without in-person supervision?) and preference (what does the employee want and need?).

Cultivate cultural values that support flexible working. 

Miscommunication, exclusion and missed career opportunities can be consequences for employees who are out of the office. By defining trust, empathy, transparency and inclusion as organizational cultural bedrocks, you can ensure remote employees won’t feel left out or left behind.

Support employees with the right technology. 

No job can be done right without the right tools. Subpar technology will hinder employees who depend on it to deliver results, which is why it’s key to provide solutions that support effective communication, remote access, security and connectivity to corporate and cloud-based applications. A goal should be to make the employee experience at home no different than when they are in the office. In a work from home setting, video is key, but so are tools that promote asynchronous communication and social inclusion such as team messaging platforms and virtual worlds. Don’t forget to ensure employees have adequate home internet speeds to support this technology.

Balance compliance requirements with employee experience. 

Security, compliance and privacy may be top priorities in your organization, but that can’t be at the expense of the employee experience. Remote data handling must be carefully managed by the IT department to ensure roles with legitimate needs have access, and regional requirements must also be considered as localized privacy regulations may change what’s expected of employers or employees. Having the right SASE (secure access service edge) solution in place can simplify this process and ensure adherence to a unified security policy.

Welcome to the era of flexibility

The need for flexible work strategies requires a truly flexible work-from-anywhere solution. OfficeSuite UC® from Windstream Enterprise, enabled by managed SD-WAN Concierge™, delivers a complete set of must-have employee collaboration tools, including video conferencing and interactive screensharing, and services backed by unmatched network performance and reliability.

To learn more how to increase agility, efficiency and securely future-proof your distributed workforce through UCaaS and SD-WAN, read the research findings found by Forrester.
 

Key takeaway: A remote work strategy that’s optimized for structure, culture, technology and compliance can positively affect business growth, employee experiences and the continuity of business operations.

 

1. Forrester’s Q2 2020 US PandemicEX Survey 2 (April 29 to May 1, 2020)

About the Author

Austin Herrington

Austin oversees Windstream Enterprise’s voice product strategy and roadmap. He and his team develop, manage and market advanced products and services. Austin holds an MBA from the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business.

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