On November 14, our blog highlighted ‘Effective Management for a Remote Workforce’, which dealt primarily with managing the workers and their productivity and morale. Now we present some mistakes that should be avoided – mostly in the realm of managing the technology. The pandemic has been a reality that companies around the world have shared. The major change is in the hybrid work model and a vast remote workforce.

At the height of the pandemic, it’s estimated that 70% of full-time workers were working from home. Even now that the pandemic has hit a new waning phase, remote work is still very much a reality. 92% of surveyed employees expect to still work from home at least 1 or more days per week.

This transformation has forced companies to rethink the tools and policies previously in place. Many have also needed to completely alter how they work. Switching to a cloud-based digital workspace eliminates Cybersecurity headaches (if implemented correctly) and easily enables a hybrid team.

This transition has certainly produced new benefits, such as:

Lower costs for both employees and employers

Better employee work/life balance

The same or improved productivity

More flexibility in serving clients

The transition has also brought challenges and risks. These include:

Vulnerable networks and endpoints

Employees feeling isolated and disconnected

Communication challenges

Difficulty tracking productivity and accountability

Increased risk of data breaches

20% of organizations experienced a breach during the pandemic due to a remote worker.

Reaping the considerable benefits by overcoming the challenges takes time and effort. Be smart: if you don’t have an internal IT department or outsourced Managed IT Services provider, at least hire a competent, trained IT services professional to set it up all your remote connections and Cybersecurity. This helps you avoid costly mistakes.

Below are some of the biggest company mistakes when building a digital workplace. The statistics are referenced from IGLOO’s State of the Digital Workplace report.

1: Poor Cloud File Management

When companies go virtual for their workflows, files live in a cloud-accessible environment. If those cloud storage environments aren’t well organized, it's a problem. It can be difficult for employees to find the files they need.

About 51% of employees have avoided sharing a document with a colleague for this reason. They either couldn’t find it or thought it would be too hard to find. It’s notable that this is the highest percentage recorded for this stat in the IGLOO report. Meaning that this problem is getting worse.

For more detail, please review our blog from September 5: How to Keep Shared Cloud Storage Organized. Below are the basic tips you will find there:

Keep file structure flat (2-3 folders deep)

Create a consistent hierarchy and naming structure

Don’t create a file for fewer than 10 documents

Archive and delete older files monthly to reduce clutter. Initiate a regular ‘Digital Decluttering’ routine

2: Lacking Inclusivity for Remote Workers

No one likes to hear people at a meeting referring to something of which they have no prior knowledge - having missed out on an important piece of information from an earlier conversation. Many companies haven’t yet overcome in-person vs remote communication challenges.

Nearly 60% of remote workers say they have miss out on important information. This is because office-bound colleagues first discussed it in person. Efficiency suffers when in-office workers make decisions without regard for remote colleagues.

Managers and team leaders must need to the way in changing this culture. While old habits die hard, the necessary mindset must transition to be more inclusive of remote workers.

3: Ignoring Unauthorized Cloud App Use

Unauthorized cloud app use (also known as Shadow IT) was already a problem before COVID relocated workers. That problem escalated in the new digital workplace, with home workers often using their personal devices for business.

Over half (57%) of employees use at least one unauthorized app in their workflow. When this happens, there are a number of ways that organizations can suffer.

Some of the risks of shadow IT include:

Data leakage from non-secured apps

Date privacy compliance violations

Redundancies in app use that increase costs

Unprotected company data due to a lack of visibility

The employee leaves and no one can access the data in the unauthorized app

4: Remote doesn’t mean ONLY Working from Home

Remote employees aren’t always working from home, connected to their home Wi-Fi. They may be working from airports, hotels, a family member’s home, or local coffee shops – often using unsecured public Wi-Fi, which is particularly vulnerable to hacking.

Companies that don’t properly protect company data used by remote employees are at serious risk of a breach. Public networks are notorious for outright data theft and enabling ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks - where a hacker connects to the same public network. Then, using software, they insert themselves as impostors in an email string. They can then access data transmissions from others on that network.

This is why business VPNs are a MUST HAVE for all remote work situations. VPNs are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. The employee simply enables the app on their device. The app then reroutes their data through secure, encrypted servers. For more detailed information on VPNs, please visit our previous blog here on the IT Support LA website: ‘Why You Need VPNs’.

5: Using Inadequate Communication Tools

Are virtual meetings a headache for your team? As many as 85% of remote workers say that they’ve had 1-2 meetings interrupted by technology failures. At this point, it’s almost the norm for someone to have a technical issue during an online meeting.

Communication is the engine that powers the success of a digital workplace. Effective cloud-based video calls, audio calls, and chats depend on the dependable technology. This facilitates a smooth experience.

Don’t rush into using just any communication tool. Take the time and test them out. Get help optimizing the settings to improve your virtual meetings. Additionally, ensure your remote team has the tools to enable smooth communications. This includes headsets, VoIP desk sets, webcams, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Digital decluttering?

A:  Regardless of the device – desktop, iPhone tablet, etc., it simply means clearing out things you don’t use that take up space, like old apps, folders, and files. Get rid of all that downloaded information you needed for projects that are completed.

Q: How do I recover archived files?

A: It's quite simple: right-click on the file and select ‘Unarchive.’

Q: What is a VPN in simple terms?

A:  A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your data and hides your IP address when online, allowing you to remain anonymous. Even if a criminal could hack your encrypted data, they could not read it.

Q: What makes up a digital workplace?

A: According to Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), “A digital workplace is a virtualized form of the traditional, in-person office environment, where many elements of collaboration and productivity are performed through some combination of digital applications, cloud computing, and other technology.”

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The best defense is the best Cybersecurity to protect your data from theft, and a top-notch Managed Services Provider (MSP) to ensure continued reliability and defenses against newly emerging threats.

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