Forget the COVID-19 pandemic; the shift to remote work has been going on for a long time.
Employees themselves greatly enjoy the benefits associated with working from home, including better work-life balance, less commute stress, and location independence. That’s why over half of employees would prefer to continue working from their homes and other remote locations at least three days a week once pandemic concerns recede, according to PwC’s US Remote Work Survey.
However, the transition to remote work isn’t always a smooth process because there are many important remote work mistakes to avoid. In this article, we describe five such mistakes to help you navigate your way past them and achieve remote work success.
1. Settling into a Lazy Home Routine
Many employees who have been commuting to the office for years, let alone decades, dream of being able to start their workday at noon, preferably while still wearing their pajamas and being comfortably relaxed in bed.
This may sound great to someone who is always awakened by an alarm clock at the same exact time, only to have just ten or so minutes to dress up and be off to work. But the reality is that long-term remote work success requires a regular schedule and at least some degree of professionalism, especially when participating in online meetings and discussing project details.
Solution: Encourage your employees to keep the same daily routine whenever possible and help them set up a comfortable home office to prevent them from becoming bed- or couch-bound.
2. Not Communicating Enough
When some employees begin working from their homes, they suddenly go radio silent on their coworkers, making it challenging for real teamwork to happen.
This sometimes occurs because they get so immersed in their work that they simply lose track of the world around them, but the lack of proper communication tools is a more common culprit.
Solution: Employees should be equipped with a range of communication tools so that they can discuss work-related topics in real-time using chat, audio and video calls, and group meetings. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack are just three popular solutions, but the options are practically endless.
3. Using Personal Devices for Work
When the coronavirus pandemic forced governments around the world to enact strict lockdown measures, a large percentage of small and medium-sized organizations were unable to equip their employees with work devices.
As a result, there are remote employees who are still using their personal devices for work-related purposes to this very day. What’s worse, they sometimes even share them with other family members, whose understanding of the current cybersecurity landscape may be severely limited.
Solution: If at all possible, give your employees work laptops to help them maintain separation between their work and personal files. If not possible, then at least require employees to save all work-related files to secure cloud storage, instead of having them scattered all over the place on random USB drives and other storage devices.
4. Insufficiently Protecting Data in Transit
Modern cybercriminals are highly sophisticated, and they’ve mastered a variety of techniques that allow them to capture and steal sensitive data as it’s being transferred across the internet to or from a remote location.
Because remote employees are typically connected to the internet using their home Wi-Fi, which they share with other family members, roommates, and friends, they give cybercriminals more opportunities to steal their data in transit. As such, extra steps must be taken to protect employees working outside the closely guarded perimeter of the office.
Solution: Employees should avoid using public Wi-Fi as much as possible and protect their home Wi-Fi connections using a strong password and data encryption. Since enforcing Wi-Fi policies can be difficult, organizations should consider equipping their employees with a VPN to channel all traffic through a secure tunnel.
5. Failing to Provide IT Support
Organizations shouldn’t expect remote employees to be their own IT support when software and hardware issues occur. Even when employees are tech-savvy enough to troubleshoot and fix issues on their own, it’s usually faster and more efficient to have an IT professional take care of the problem instead.
When professional IT support is just one phone call away, minor and major problems alike can be solved as quickly as possible, preventing costly downtime from slowing everyone down. The same IT support team can also provide ongoing training and assistance to help employees make the best use of the implemented technology solutions.
Solution: Since building an in-house IT support team from scratch is expensive and time-consuming, organizations should instead partner with a local provider of managed IT services, such as Aligned Technology Solutions.