Last month, my colleague Irwin Lazar shared tips for optimizing meeting rooms to better support hybrid work based on results from Metrigy’s recently released “Unified Communications Management and Endpoints: 2021-22” global research study of nearly 400 participating organizations. These tips, largely about the in-room experience, are well worth reviewing, especially if you’re among the 45% of participants whose employees must work from the office or have the option of working in either location.
However, the full scope of modern work shows a sizable contingent of WFH employees.
In our study, 15% of organizations surveyed mandated that all employees remain in a remote working set-up. This is in addition to the 24% of survey participants that allow employees the flexibility of working from whichever location they’d prefer and the 38% of survey participants who dictate work location based on employee role. In total, 77% of survey respondents will have some part of the workforce working from home.
Clearly, optimizing for a WFH workforce is going to require some attention from IT and HR decision makers at many companies.
Here are five best practice considerations for companies that want to optimize the WFH model, based on tactics implemented by our success group, as measured by their ability to grow revenue, lower capital and operating costs, and improve productivity.
- Tried and true, the VPN should be the go-to — For WFH connectivity, VPN remains the primary option, a more successful technology choice than split tunnel or Internet access for 44% of all participants and 53% of our success group. Presumably, IT has fixed any VPN problems that might have troubled their organizations during the early rush to WFH in 2020. And that takes us to our second point.
- Give WFH employees your attention — Whether in providing guidance on which Internet service provider (ISP) to use or monitoring video and voice performance, the most successful companies are actively supporting their at-home workforces. Among the success group, for example, 58% of participants provide ISP guidance, 48% advise WFH employees on physical layouts, another 48% manage video quality, and 39% conduct home Wi-Fi assessments.
- Allocate budget for individual employee’s WFH requirements — Successful companies are slightly more likely to provide a stipend to employees working from home than participants outside this group. Of all survey participants with WFH stipends, 13% distribute the funds annually and 39% do so monthly, with 47% handing out a one-time stipend. Annual stipends for the success group are significantly higher than for the non-success group, at $2,795 compared to $985. Employees are most often spending their stipends on Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity improvements, chairs and desks, and headsets.
- Upgrade WFH devices — Don’t make “out of sight, out of mind” be your organization’s approach to WFH employees. In our study, the success group consistently out-deployed their counterparts in the non-success group in just about every relevant device category, including cellphones, headsets, monitors, webcams, and speakerphones, for at-home workers.
- Invest in new management tools — While this isn’t specific to WFH, at-home workers benefit from IT’s ability to stay ahead of endpoint management, security compliance, administration, and performance monitoring of the UC and collaboration apps they use on a regular, if not continual, basis. Forty one percent of the success group have invested in new management tools compared to 27% of non-success group participants. Additionally, 58% of the success group are either already using or planning to use headset management in 2021, taking the burden off employees.
Whether organizations have made the decision to continue supporting WFH post-pandemic to improve employee quality of life, reduce turnover, or increase productivity, the effort will be for naught if technology is a barrier. Optimization means focusing on the unique needs of at-home employees and a coordinated effort between IT and HR.