Written by Elise Carmichael, Chief Technology Officer, Lakeside Software
April 10 is Global work from home day, so here are a few IT strategies to help your employees become more productive and satisfied while working from anywhere
It’s been three years since companies across the globe took an unplanned shift to a remote workforce. There was much scrambling under the IT hood, so to speak, back then to ensure that enterprise IT networks could handle essentially thousands of distributed “offices” as employees, students, and even primary school children Zoomed, Googled, Slacked, and Teamed their way toward being as productive as possible.
Today, while a few major companies are boomeranging to in-person office requirements, most enterprises have retained either remote or hybrid workforces — and, accordingly, now rely on flexible IT networks and security infrastructure to support these work-from-home setups. Although fully remote workforces may start to decline (from 56% in 2021 to 19% in 2024), per an AT&T study, the hybrid work model likely will grow from 42% in 2021 to 81% in 2024.
Personally, the hybrid model seems like a win-win for many large enterprises and their employees, who have more options than ever to create a working structure suited to their individual needs. So at a time when many employers need to retain and attract the best talent — and also to celebrate Global Work from Home Day coming up on April 10 — here are six tips to ensure a healthy and productive remote workforce supported by a satisfying digital employee experience.
1. Understand what digital employee experience really is.
Since virtual workers are 100% dependent on technology and require the right hardware and software for their given roles, digital employee engagement is crucial for employee productivity, satisfaction, and overall well-being. Anyone who has endured a poor computer experience knows there is little more frustrating than when technology gets in the way of what you’re trying to do. In fact, even enterprises with on-site employees must be mindful of whether the “digital employee experience” (DEX) is a healthy one.
But what does digital employee experience really mean? For years during the heyday of pre-pandemic digital transformation, the digital experience often meant the customer’s experience with end-user-facing services, such as a seamless and intuitive experience within a banking app or a quick, frictionless e-commerce transaction.
Now we know what’s happening inside the enterprise is just as crucial. Enter the digital employee experience, which Forrester’s Senior Analyst Andrew Hewitt and Principal Analyst Cheryl McKinnon define as “the sum of all the perceptions that employees have about working with the technology they use to complete their daily work and manage their relationship with their employer across the lifecycle of their employment.”1
For enterprise employees who work from home, the experience with technology can have a direct impact on both their productivity and job satisfaction — not to mention a trickle-down effect on the service they provide customers (directly or indirectly). How many times have you been on a support call with someone, such as an airline, and the help desk employee complains about their computer being slow?
As someone who has been a tech leader for 15 years while working from home myself, I know the importance of technology in my day-to-day productivity. In fact, more than half of employees surveyed last year on behalf of Lakeside Software indicated that they believe that DEX should be a top priority for management.
As a company that has been using data for more than 25 years to ensure the digital workplace is a productive one, Lakeside discovered in the global survey behind our Digital Workplace Productivity Report 2022that about 36% of employees admit that they’ve considered leaving their employer because of poor digital experience — and 14% actually have. Lakeside works with more than 4,000 customers globally, including 40% of the world’s largest banks, to make sure that doesn’t happen. After all, just recruiting and onboarding an employee can cost $7,000-$28,000, and possibly even more at larger enterprises. No company wants to throw that investment out the window.
2. Know the health of the enterprise IT environment.
A better digital employee experience starts with gaining detailed and accurate insight into the precise health of the enterprise IT environment. Guesswork doesn’t take the IT team or those they report to very far — especially when an app or system goes down at a crucial moment for the employee.
If IT leaders cannot see exactly what employees are experiencing from a technical standpoint and how their devices are performing, they won’t know when and how to take steps to improve digital experiences. With full IT visibility of how well (or not well) endpoint devices such as desktops, mobile devices, or servers are operating, organizations can stave off IT-related downtime for employees before they even realize there might be a problem.
Consider the last time your own desktop, laptop, or app used for work gave you the “spinning wheel of death,” blue screened, crashed, or just became so slow it was unusable. Frustrating? I thought so. I can visualize employees wanting to throw their computers out the window.
3. Gather and use the trove of anonymized data from IT endpoints.
Endpoints — from laptops and desktops to virtual machines, servers, Android and iOS devices — hold an incredible amount of data that can yield insights about the real-time health of devices. Being proactive about monitoring and measuring endpoint performance is the best way to get data-backed analysis of how well employees can use their digital tools at any given time. Once IT has that level of understanding about the digital environment, you can take steps to improve employee experience and satisfaction. Lakeside specializes in taking volumes of raw endpoint telemetry data (in other words, not “big brother” data) and making it accessible in one pane of glass so the IT team can walk away with actionable insights, which can bubble up to executive dashboards as well.
Imagine the power of this visibility across your enterprise’s entire IT estate. This data can also help IT develop specific, actionable plans for optimizing the digital workplace at large, and it can give IT the perspective it needs to provide tailored service and support on a continuous — and even proactive — basis. Employee satisfaction is compounded across the digital workforce.
4. Make sure each employee has the right digital tools, right-sized for their job responsibilities.
The endpoint is the remote employee’s lifeline to their digital devices and apps, so it gives IT the ability to anticipate whether employees have what they need to be productive. Once data has been gathered to understand how an employee is using their digital devices and apps, employers can undertake any changes to ensure productivity. For example, knowing that a certain user frequently switches between browser windows could suggest that they’d be more productive with a second or third monitor in their home office. Proactively giving them that additional monitor before they need to ask for it could make them immensely more productive as well as more satisfied.
Right-sizing means giving users the correct resources and the exact type of devices and apps they need to do their particular jobs without disruption. This digital employee strategy guarantees better productivity and better morale. Where employees are more dependent on their technology than ever before, right-sizing technology can make a significant impact on employee morale as well as productivity.
It goes without saying that the right tools at the right time go a long way for employee satisfaction.
5. Streamline the IT support process.
Of course, not everything works perfectly all the time. Technical issues are bound to happen in even the most well-maintained digital environments. But getting service desk support shouldn’t be a difficult or dreaded task for users. And it shouldn’t take multiple tickets or long-winded calls with technicians and/or bots to finally get problems resolved.
For many organizations, the typical process for reporting issues starts with a bit of cursing, a few reboots, and then a phone call or email from a user to the service desk with something basic, like “my computer is running slowly” or “this app keeps crashing.” Then it’s up to a Level 1 technician to spend time asking questions and investigating the wide range of workplace technologies that could possibly cause the problem.
Depending on the issue, the process can quickly escalate and require even more technicians and troubleshooting. Not only does this have a negative impact on that employee and their digital employee experience, but it also might be affecting dozens of other end users, and IT needs to notice this trend before it can fix the root causes. It will end up costing organizations resources and valuable productivity time.
Real-time data, as well as auto-detection and remedial automations, can eliminate a lot of questioning and guesswork right from the start. And the quicker technicians can dive right into root cause analysis, the shorter the mean time to resolution (MTTR) and the less impact on digital experiences.
6. Be proactive — focus on prevention, not just a cure.
What provides an even better employee experience than a speedy service desk response? Resolving issues before they even become problems.
That’s where proactive IT services and even a self-healing help desk can come into play. A strategic proactive support approach would be to utilize artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps).
Using the data collected through the Lakeside’s digital experience management platform, powered by SysTrack, enables the implementation of automated remediations using sensors that can immediately analyze and identify issues, and then automations that can quickly resolve those issues remotely before they affect the experience of the employee. Not only does this Level 0 support free up technicians, and possibly other resources, it also greatly improves digital employee experience.
As a provider of a digital employee experience platform, Lakeside wants to make sure that on Global Work from Home Day — and every day — is smooth sailing for remote, hybrid, and on-site employees alike. Where there’s an endpoint, there’s a way to ensure it enriches the digital employee experience. A proactive approach to device health allows employees to do their job — without having to manage frustrating tech issues.
- Forrester blog, “Digital Employee Experience Is Not A Tool — It’s A Perception,” Andrew Hewitt and Cheryl McKinnon, May 24, 2022: https://bit.ly/3UcbvVX.↩
As Lakeside’s Chief Technology Officer, Elise is responsible for building and delivering the next generation of digital employee experience solutions. She has more than 20 years of experience working with enterprise organizations on high-tech, big data, and machine learning-based products. Before joining Lakeside, Elise held senior technology and product leadership roles at Functionize, Tricentis, QASymphony, and Mobiquity.