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Do You Have Empathy for Remote Employees?

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Do You Have Empathy for Remote Employees?

Working remotely is not something that will be going away any time soon. Today, we'll look at challenges faced both by IT leaders and workers who are in this situation.

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The last thing an IT leader needs is more to worry about. Networks are more complicated than ever, and you already have your hands full with new configurations, infrastructure troubleshooting, resource allocation, and new tech deployments.

But there’s a problem. The business problems you used to let other leaders solve are starting to bleed into IT territory. You aren’t just tasked with keeping the IT infrastructure up and running—you now also have to deliver high-quality end-user experiences for on-site teams and remote employees. This isn’t always easy. A recent survey found that 70% of businesses deploying Office 365 report latency issues at least weekly, and 69% report weekly bandwidth issues, even after upgrading networks. That’s not a good user experience, and IT will certainly hear about those issues.

Thinking about the end-user experience in technical terms alone isn’t enough, especially when you’re dealing with a distributed business. Today’s successful IT leaders will be those that can show empathy for the remote employees they support.

When you look at IT challenges throughout the day, are you empathizing with employees?

3 Challenges to Rethink From the Remote Employee’s Perspective

The following three IT challenges will seem familiar if you’re used to supporting a remote workforce. However, business productivity will depend on your ability to find solutions to these problems that work from a tech perspective and an end-user experience perspective.

  • Deploying High-Quality Communications Systems: When the distributed workforce has to collaborate, it’s important to have the right communications systems in place. But on the technical side, you only have so much bandwidth to work with. If you aren’t thinking of the end user, it might seem easier to avoid bandwidth-hungry video conferencing solutions to maximize cloud application performance. Empathize with your end users, understand that video is important for business productivity, and find new ways to efficiently support communications.
  • Tracking the Right Metrics: As you support an increasingly cloud-based infrastructure, network metrics like latency, packet loss, jitter, and others are nothing new. But remote workers don’t care about these metrics—they just want to be able to connect and get their work done. With better insight into how applications are performing from the end user’s perspective, you can contribute to overarching business productivity goals. Don’t get locked into cloud application performance strictly in terms of the SLA, but make sure to note help desk ticket frequency, reported ghost issues and other issues that could be affecting users every day.
  • Securing the Remote Workforce: You’re constantly balancing the need to deploy innovative technology with security concerns. But when you’re securing the remote workforce, it’s easy to just implement a VPN and think that all the traffic is encrypted. The problem is that you might be losing visibility into the employees who are working around the VPN. If you want to secure everyone with the VPN, you need to make it as seamless as possible so employees don’t avoid it. This means understanding the points of friction in the experience and eliminating them.

IT leaders have seen their positions as technical gatekeepers change over the years, as users get savvier and access technology constantly with phones and tablets. Now, traditional IT processes aren’t matching up with business needs as applications and workloads move to the cloud. Part of the IT transformation over the next few years will be to add experiential context to technical problems.

It’s not that the technical side isn’t important anymore. You just have to add a bit of end-user empathy to the equation.

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