Quick Guide to Managing Remote Employees in a Hybrid World

Quick Guide to Managing Remote Employees

DEM tools help to navigate the challenges of working remotely and increase employee engagement

Restrictions associated with COVID-19 have forced organizations to implement work-from-home arrangements. Now, many of them are indicating that their employees will be able to continue working remotely post-pandemic. Some companies have even formally announced plans to adopt a hybrid model in which workers only have to go to the office a few days of the week.

In other words, the challenges of managing remote employees are not going away.

The Hybrid Work Model Is Here to Stay

The new work trends vary according to the industry. Some sectors such as manufacturing and healthcare require more on-site work. In financial and professional services, employees have more flexibility.

As a result, many employees won’t need to go back to the office after the pandemic. According to global data from LinkedIn on hybrid work, the share of job postings that mention remote work increased from about 6% in May 2020 to almost 14% one year later.

Lakeside’s commissioned research in The Future of Digital Workplaces report reveals a gap in expectations between IT and other teams about the future of the workplace post-pandemic. For example, more than half of the employees surveyed expect to continue working from home in some capacity, while IT staff believes that only one third of the employees will be working remotely. Underestimating the shift in work behavior is concerning because it could lead to an ill-equipped workspace.

What are the Challenges of Having a Remote Workforce?

Managing remote teams has specific downsides. Many of the challenges have to do with workplace technology. That’s why it becomes crucial to have an IT strategy that emphasizes digital employee experience (DEX).

The first step to improving digital employee experiences is to understand the specific struggles end users face. Findings from Lakeside’s 2021 report on digital employee experience, based on commissioned research from ESI ThoughtLab, reveals the top 10 challenges of working in a remote team:

  1. More distractions
  2. Less effective collaboration between team members
  3. Data privacy and security issues
  4. Greater difficulty managing remote workers
  5. Less engagement and sense of belonging
  6. Harder to meet business goals
  7. Poor quality of internet connection
  8. VPN issues
  9. More difficult to innovate
  10. Lack of help desk responsiveness

This list is based on the answers of employees from eight industries across the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Half of the respondents said that the extra distractions were their top problem. Remote work can be more challenging if the employee does not have a private home office space or has children at home constantly seeking attention.

Some of the issues cited by the workers are related to the absence of social interactions between team members. In-person communication is believed to foster collegiality and teamwork. In addition, many people have struggled with social isolation, especially during more strict lockdowns.

Other challenges, however, are connected to remote workplace technology and could be addressed more easily with the right solution. Slow or unstable internet connections are a common workplace issue regardless of where the employee is located.

How to Manage a Remote Workforce

A better digital experience is crucial to solving most of the top problems employees face when working remotely. Here are some examples:

  • Providing employees with collaboration tools can facilitate teamwork and foster collaboration.
  • Investing in endpoint technology to protect devices and data can reduce cyber risks.
  • Adopting cloud-based applications can eliminate VPN issues.
  • Responding more quickly to IT issues can address problems as they arise.
  • Taking a proactive IT approach can reduce help desk tickets and user frustration.

Steps to Improve Remote Work Productivity

Technology plays a central role in improving employee productivity and engagement. According to Lakeside’s research, this is the percentage of employees in each industry who believe they would be more productive working from home if they had the right digital experience:

  • Insurance: 47%
  • Energy and utilities: 45%
  • Retail: 44%
  • Professional services: 41%
  • Financial services: 38%

The report also offers some insights into actions that should be prioritized to increase remote employee productivity:

  • Making data easier to access
  • Streamlining workflows for employees
  • Offering a more responsive IT support
  • Having an easier and quicker way to give feedback to the IT team

A key takeaway is that both companies and employees have to gain from prioritizing digital experience. Fortunately, more organizations and their leaders are starting to realize the importance of building better digital workspaces for their teams. According to Lakeside’s The Future of Digital Workplaces report, 90% of executives interviewed said that DEX is a priority post-pandemic, while 72% said that DEX was a medium or lower priority before the pandemic.

Poor digital experience can hinder employees’ ability to get their jobs done. In fact, the relationship between DEX and productivity can be quantified. Lakeside Software’s digital experience management platform — the Digital Experience Cloud, powered by SysTrack — calculates an end-user experience score that serves as a high-level KPI that quantifies the amount of time an end user is able to work without being negatively impacted by technology.

The Demand for Digital Experience Management Tools

As the nature of work evolves, digital experience management (DEM) — also known as end-user experience management (EUEM) or sometimes digital experience monitoring — is growing in demand. These tools give visibility into the entire IT environment. It does not matter if the employee is working remotely or not. As indicated by Gartner, trends of remote work and digital transformation are pushing the adoption of those technologies.

How Lakeside Helps Solve Remote Work Challenges

Lakeside’s Digital Experience Cloud gathers and analyzes data on everything that may impact end-user experience and business productivity. It enables IT teams to understand the usage and performance of resources in real time as well as track historical trends.

Here are some features of Lakeside’s platform that help organizations make sure their employees have a superior digital experience:

  • Endpoint visibility into the entire IT environment
  • Responsive IT support
  • Real-time mechanisms to provide IT with feedback on user’s experience
  • Digital workplace planning
  • IT asset optimization

And, of course, Lakeside’s solution can help IT departments better support remote workers. For example, by collecting endpoint data, IT can see which resources are needed to improve the end-user experience. IT can then take proactive measures to ensure that workplace technology is enabling employees to carry out their tasks.

IT is also able to monitor application and device performance. For example, it is possible to identify which users are struggling with slow systems, diagnose the root cause of the problem, and fix it. In addition, intelligent sensors detect IT issues proactively. Those measures reduce the number of help desk tickets — a notorious source of frustration for employees.

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