Reimagining Business Outcomes with a Distributed Workforce

As we all situate and adapt to the “new normal” post-pandemic, a majority of organizations are toying with combinations of remote and on-premise work models.  This hybrid combination will surely have some employees return back to work on-site, while others will work in a remote capacity, along with potential staggered work hours or other possibilities.  Many organizations, especially in the IT sector, are seriously considering even a permanent remote base for employees.  These models will ensure broader access to resources, lower maintenance, and office costs, and greater employee flexibility.  Challenges might include managing employee experiences and productivity output while ensuring overall organizational effectiveness.

Halfway through this year, the corporate world has seen a significant rise in workforce addition to this new hybrid work environment.  The percentage of workers permanently working from home is expected to nearly double by the end of this year.  Recently measured productivity benchmarks and employee engagement surveys tell a story that this might be working well and potentially, remote working might be here to stay. An earlier conducted Gartner CFO survey suggests that a large percentage of organizations might make remote work permanent, with the larger technology companies initiating this move.

How do organizations ensure that the advantages of this new model outweigh the disadvantages?  What must businesses do to increase success and productivity in the new work model?

Cybersecurity is critical to success

In the distributed environment, cybersecurity will become an even greater concern in the immediate future.  Many leaders have realized that cybersecurity is more important now than before the pandemic.  Concerns focus on how data is getting used and accessed as well as securing it effectively.

Strategic decisions with regards to cybersecurity investments will focus on protecting employees, data, digital assets, and equipment.  This will lead to fresh investments needed in IT infrastructure.  It will also lead to a new mindset on securing remote teams and the expanded perimeter for potential attacks.  IT policies for employees working outside office premises will need to be drafted to include a zero-trust environment.

Performance Management

Remote work affects performance output and management to a large extent.  Businesses will now look at new parameters to measure performance.  Organizations will focus on business outcomes and output rather than simply the number of man hour clocked. Tools and applications will be needed to assist remote employees to improve performance as well for supervisors and managers to measure outcomes.

To increase efficiency amongst employees and teams, managers will require visibility over day-to-day activities and processes.  Remote management tools, communication and collaboration software, as well as other tech-based services will need to be considered by organizations.

The frequency of performance reviews may need to be updated from their previous conventional formats. This will assist managers in guiding employees to effectively navigate work responsibilities and perform as per expectations.

Focus on Innovation and Technology

The pandemic has created much uncertainty across industries.  Businesses have become significantly more risk-averse.  Amidst disruptive times, exploring something new is typically put on the backburner.  However, these are the exact times that innovation and investments in technology are critical for sharpening business processes, driving employee engagement, and raising the bar in customer service management.

Given the impact that a lot of organizations faced in terms of growth and output, there will be constraints on new investments. Leaders can emphasize the need and provide opportunities for incremental innovation or process improvements.

Employee Management Services

Service desks have transformed the way they operate.  Firms are now utilizing employee service desks that are conducive to the remote work culture.  They have now incorporated machine learning and AI into their daily activities, as well as integrating with online collaborative platforms.  This allows remote working staff to access the service desk simply by logging into the platform.  Such desks provide personalized solutions to the issues faced by employees.  Conversational AI and AI chatbots aid employees in resolving employment issues.  They also help to manage their time well and ensure an optimum level of productivity.

HR teams also have access to training resources and knowledge repositories.  They can provide access to remote employees, enabling them to gain additional knowledge and skills while also having queries resolved through the service desk.

With the adoption of these platforms, HR teams can now create personalized email campaigns that can be sent to new employees within the organization to include a multitude of important company and individual information.

Now is the time that organizations must pay attention to the effect of the new work environment, norms, and culture.  Focus on the ties that bind your employee population together. Direct priority to the core aspects of your individual leadership as well as that of your broader team of leaders and managers. Your opportunity is here to solve the new hybrid-virtual model that best suits your company. Let it begin your organization’s next phase for a new shared culture where your employees can realize stability, social cohesion, identity, and belonging, whether your employees are working remotely, on-premise, or in some combination of both.

Allied Digital, while traditionally a service provider now also focuses on smart city solutions, master integrator services, ITSM solutions, and cloud migration as a service offering.

The author Hubert Wong is Vice President – Service Operations at Allied Digital Services.