Why Businesses Need WFH Technology, Even as the Remote Work Debate Heats Up

November 28th, 2023

Before 2020, there was never much debate over how people worked. By and large, they commuted to an office, retail store, manufacturing facility, distribution center, or other locations to do their jobs. They punched a clock or filled in their timesheets, carefully following policies for breaks and punctuality during the workday. However, beginning with “15 days to slow the spread” of COVID-19, everything changed. Businesses quickly deployed work-from-home (WFH) technology, and instead of commuting, many employees began working at their kitchen tables in flannel pajama pants and setting their own schedules.

For many employees, this new model had a lot of appeal. No fuel costs to get to work. No dress codes. No ticking clock on a lunch break. And, for many people, more productivity. A Future Forum Pulse report states that employees say they are 29% more productive when they have flexibility in where and when they work. Furthermore, people want to do it. A Buffer survey found that 98% of 3,000 people around the world want to work remotely, at least part of the time, for the rest of their careers, and they would recommend it to others.

So, why are the vast majority of companies (90%) saying they’ll be back in the office by the end of 2024?

The Downside of a Work-From-Home Model

Malcolm Gladwell shed some light on the subject at Tech Week Grand Rapids in September. He commented that the WFH model “is not sustainable.”

He said that the work-from-home trend doesn’t build loyalty to a company and can increase employee turnover. In the Diary of a CEO podcast, he pointed out, “If we don’t feel like we’re part of something important, what’s the point? If it’s just a paycheck, then what have you reduced your life to?”

Additionally, he stressed that when employees aren’t working in person with the rest of an organization’s team, they don’t contribute to work culture – or their own sense of connection and commitment to the team.

Gladwell has taken criticism for his stand on remote work, which these Entrepreneur and Inc. articles illustrate. But he echoes the feelings of employers who see the work cultures they’ve tried so hard to build disintegrate and limitations on what their teams can accomplish because they aren’t ever in the same room.

What’s the Solution?

Although some companies will be in-office-work-only purists and others will give their employees total flexibility, the answer for most companies will be somewhere in the middle, aka the ‘hybrid model.” This strategy provides some flexibility, allowing employees to work in the office and remotely when it makes sense and will result in the greatest productivity.

For example, an employee tasked with a solo assignment that requires intense focus may opt to do the job at home. However, if the employee is part of a collaborative team involved in a dynamic project, working in the office probably makes more sense.

Harvard Business Review reports that U.S. executives predict hybrid work, now the model for about 14% of full-time employees, will increase to 16.3% by 2028.

Supporting a Remote and Hybrid Model with WFH Technology

Regardless of where your business lands on this issue, you need to make informed, clear-headed decisions about the WFH technology your business uses. Most businesses updated their tech stacks quickly to accommodate remote work during the pandemic, many accelerating timelines and putting cloud solutions and infrastructure in place within a year or two that typically would have taken 5-7 years to carry out.

If your business cut corners on security or data backup to allow employees to work from home, it’s time to rectify that with solutions that keep endpoints secure, wherever they’re located. You also need a backup strategy that ensures all vital data is always accessible.

Your WFH employees may also need a better way to connect with the company network and access the tech tools they need to do their jobs efficiently. It may be time to take a closer look at your options, for example, whether virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) vs. virtual private network (VPN) is the best choice for your business.

Another thing to remember is that you may be successful in convincing all of your employees to return to work in person; however, none of us knows what the future will bring. COVID-19 convinced companies that WFH technology is an important component of business continuity management. Enabling your employees to work from home could be the key to continued customer engagement and revenues when disaster strikes.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the work-from-home debate and how your business plans to move forward. And we’re ready to answer your questions about WFH technology and practical solutions for your business. Give us a call.

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