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A recent Gallup poll found that the trend toward remote working is holding strong and increasing as predicted. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that 43% of employed Americans spent at least some time working remotely in 2016 (up 4 percentage points since 2012). More than 40% of workers spend 60% or more of their time working remotely, with an impressive 31% of respondents reporting that they work remote 80-100% of the time.
On top of full time employees working remotely for at least part of the week, organizations are also working with an increasing number of contractors. For many companies, contract workers make up 20-60% of their workforce, according to the 2017 Workforce Compliance Report.
With so many employees working away from the office, businesses have to adjust the way they approach access to corporate data and applications if they want to retain productivity and efficiency. Remote access solutions have risen to the challenge, allowing employees to access the information they need and stay in touch while away from headquarters.
When assessing remote working programs and the remote access solutions that can enable those programs, business leaders should focus on four key benefits. Finding the right tech solutions that fulfill these needs will make remote access not only a reality but an advantage.
The key to any successful remote working program is ensuring all employees have access to the data, systems and applications they need regardless of location or endpoint. This is particularly important if your company has also embraced a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy or employees use personal computers when away from the office. Both these scenarios introduce a wide range of devices and operating systems that can present app compatibility and support challenges.
Invest in remote access solutions like virtual desktops or application streaming that allow employees to access their work desktop or apps from any device. When assessing SaaS and other tech solutions, be wary of any service that is only compatible with a small selection of operating systems or browsers. Implementing a solution that is difficult for employees to get up and running will have a major impact on productivity and morale.
One of the reasons large corporations like IBM, Best Buy and Bank of America are ending remote working programs is because they want to increase collaboration. However, this transition is creating productivity issues as formerly remote employees struggle to adjust to working in an office setting.
To avoid this issue and to continue allowing employees to work remotely – which is an increasingly popular employee perk on the verge of becoming table stakes for attracting top talent – it’s important to remember that with the right remote access tools, collaboration doesn’t have to suffer. Choose robust online collaboration tools that allow remote employees to chat, video conference, share screens, share files and collaborate on editing documents. Remember to opt for ones that are supported on a wide range of operating systems and look for solutions that check multiple feature boxes, rather than implementing a specific tool for each ability. Making a smart decision regarding collaboration tools will allow employees to interact and work together as easily as if they were in the office.
With the increasingly dire state of cybersecurity, businesses need remote access technologies that offer extremely robust security features. Data breaches are on the rise and won’t disappear anytime soon. As IT and security teams have less hands-on control over applications and physical endpoints, the potential for a breach increases. The remote access solutions organizations decide on need to directly address this growing risk. Look for service providers and solutions that clearly make security a cornerstone of their offering and continually introduce new features to increase data security.
With the direction data security is moving today, companies should also look for solutions that will help them meet and maintain compliance requirements – a big concern as employees leave your controlled office environment. Security and compliance are not the same thing, but organizations need both or they’re likely to find themselves in hot water. Emerging technologies can help fill the growing gap within security and compliance, particularly “as a service” solutions that solve for both the technical challenges as well as the talent shortage that is already plaguing organizations and is predicted to grow.
Giving remote employees reliable, easy to use access needs to be carefully balanced with a company’s need for control over their corporate IP and customer data. As your data is spread out amongst more employees, contractors, locations, applications and endpoint devices you need a reliable way to control who accesses those systems and a way to control and revoke access as needed.
Look for remote access solutions and web-based applications that offer robust user levels and permissions, then be careful to only grant each employee the appropriate amount of access for their role. Make sure there are ways to revoke access without interacting with the specific endpoint the solution is installed on – this is absolutely critical when dealing with remote employees or contractors who may never come into the office.
When engaging with a new solution provider, ensure the contract is set up so that the company has access to and control of the account – not the person setting it up. This will allow you to retain control over your systems even as individual employees more on.
As organizations allow employees more flexible work schedules or employ more full-time remote employees to better manage budget or get access to top talent, they’ll need to find a way to grant these out-of-office workers consistent access to the programs, apps and data necessary for job fulfillment. But selecting just any remote access solutions won’t get the job done. Business managers need to carefully assess the device agnostic access, collaboration, security and control aspects of each solution they’re considering to ensure their remote working program is successful, productive and profitable.
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