The Remote Working Model

Every industry, from small businesses to the largest global enterprises, is experiencing dramatic changes to the way we work. There are substantial pressures on organisations to rapidly adopt a new remote working model so that organisations and economies can continue to operate. While technology is available to support this goal, the measure of success will be people transacting and delivering output across the entire value chain.

Tips to successfully work remotely in the COVID-19 era

A range of factors must be considered to successfully implement the new working model.

Governance

Technology decisions made about the modern workplace are strategic and transformative with long-running organisational impacts post COVID-19. The process can be accelerated, but your technology decision must be considered with regard to your enterprise architecture at a strategic level. This will minimise the risk of making a potentially wrong decision and its negative impacts.

Contextual hindsight: Practice governance on the run and maintain the discipline of capturing and documenting the logic and decision-making data. Future reviews of decisions will need to consider the circumstances upon which decisions were made which may be forgotten or misconstrued.

Read: Governance in Microsoft Teams: A foundation for success

Technology

Technology will be impacted across the spectrum. There are multiple technology options and paths that can be taken to deliver the tools for your teams.

Cloud-adoption: Software-as-a-Service solutions are available to meet remote worker’s needs; however, cloud migration requires careful planning and consideration. To enable rapid implementation of remote worker access, hybrid environments can be constructed that take the pressure off migration activities. End-users will be able to access and send emails, file-share, report and gain data access.

Network Infrastructure and Remote Access: Options exist to rapidly deploy or extend VPN by using an appliance-based VPN solution coupled with end-point software. An appliance-based solution will enable scaling up and down as demand changes and provide appropriate security while enabling rapid deployment.

Watch: Ed Hawkins from Palo Alto explain how Prisma Access can be set up very quickly to facilitate remote workers.

End-user Compute and Devices: if your organisation has limited access to flexible end-user compute devices like laptops or tablets take a look at our Home Office Solutions. Alternatively, BYOD can be quickly enabled through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), coupled with Endpoint Device Management.

  • End-users will require a device that can access VDI.
  • Any compute device that can access cloud services can be used to access the VDI, and in most cases the end-point software that is required can be as simple as a web browser.
  • For those situations where VDI is not a viable solution, Endpoint Device Management services can reduce the time to deploy new physical devices, as security policy and applications can be deployed to the device through the cloud.

Read: VPN and VDI: Quick solutions for connecting and securing remote workers

WAN and Bandwidth: Reliable WAN connectivity is essential. IT must review existing capabilities against the potential load from new remote end-users and remediate. Redundancy of the WAN links should be investigated with a pre-emptive redundancy validation exercise completed.

  • Implement proactive monitoring of this link.
  • Investigate a flexible arrangement with your organisation’s telecommunications provider to support adjusting the bandwidth requirements as demand changes and requirements stabilise. This will assist in controlling costs.

Read: What’s next for networking? A multi-domain approach for a multi-cloud world.

Security: Remote access to on-premises capabilities and the introduction of cloud services increase the risk of security vulnerabilities. For cloud-based services the emphasis is on personal security – identity, credentials and information sharing. For on-premises capabilities the emphasis, while still on personal security, extends to remote access vulnerabilities. Proactive monitoring should be implemented.

Read: Cybersecurity considerations for COVID-19

Costs: Solution vendors have stepped up to assist in this challenging time. The majority of the vendors have released trial periods for their solutions. These can be used as tests as well as keeping immediate costs down. Assess solutions within the context of your architectural direction and current licensing arrangements to ensure you have the best architectural and licensing fit for your organisation.

Register now for a free trial of Cisco Webex or Microsoft Teams.

See offers and free trials from our Security vendors.

Explore flexible procurement models to purchase hardware such as leases or Device-as-a-Service.

Information Management: A dedicated focus is required for Information Management (IM). It is a critical component of your new working model. Individuals and teams will be creating, developing, managing and storing information in new ways in new technologies. IM practices must be modelled to ensure that structures are setup. Protect your future self against a morass of disassociated information with no home, no classification, no security and residing in individuals heads as to how it was created and where to find it. It will be a mess that no-one will have the energy to solve.

People & Change

How people use the tools, interact and deliver output is the true measure of success. Teams and individuals must deliver their work-product, complete their function and role, and contribute positively to the organisation operation while working in new models of delivery. This will be challenging and there will be disruption, however there are actions that can be taken now that minimise the level of disruption. Equally, learnings must also be captured and applied as the new working model takes root.

Adopt and embed new ways of working: Expend effort to understand where the changes are going to occur and what remodelling of processes is required to fit those changes. Leverage new technologies to automate these new processes where possible. Automation enables people to create positive new habits when they conduct their work. The good news is that the best time to create and embed change is during major change and disruption.

Productivity: This is the fundamental goal (and concern) of working remotely. How is productivity achieved if people are not co-located and that associated organisational pressure to deliver output doesn’t exist? There is an entire subject area that questions how productive individuals truly are on a day-to-day basis. Research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes.1 The eight-hour workday designed during the industrial revolution is ripe for disruption. While this isn’t a focus for the current emergency response, don’t completely discard this thought.

There are actions you can take to assist in delivering productivity for remote working:

  • Be granular in output: When developing projects, time is allocated directly to task completion. A version of this needs to be done for individuals within teams to ensure output is achieved and work is done. This can be easier for project work where there is a direct relationship between activity and time. For general ongoing operations, ensure teams and individuals understand what they are working towards, their role in its development and the milestones required to achieve it. This output can be developed collaboratively with teams to ensure all parts of the organisation are aligned to output.
  • Ensure individuals can use the technology and tools: There will be different levels of maturity amongst team members in using tools. Ensure training is conducted for all to bring the organisation up to a baseline level of skill.

Visit: Adopting Microsoft Teams and Adopting Webex Teams for end-user training resources.

  • Support is available when confronting technical difficulties: There will be increased demands on support services, particularly service-desk during the change. Estimate and quantify the extent of increased demand. Enable sufficient manpower and tools to respond to the increased activity. Be aware of our managed services offerings if you need support.
  • Be granular in productivity measurement: Distractions stifle productivity and these are stronger when working remotely. There is no “herd” that keeps an organisation moving by being co-located. Establish measurements and develop tools that assist individuals to remain on-task during remote operations. These can be formal time measurement/management tools such as Hubstaff and Harvest, or as unsophisticated as tracking hours and keeping lists.

Read: The secrets of high-performing teams… wherever they’re located

Communications: How do we stay connected and what medium should we use to communicate for what circumstance? With limitations on face-to-face, new communications structures must be established that replace the ad-hoc but high-value exchanges such as meetings, water cooler chat, leaning over the partition or grabbing a coffee. Develop a plan and cadence for communications and align your outputs to the best communications mechanisms that suit. These can be regular team-meetings via video conferencing, group phone calls, WhatsApp, instant messaging, wikis or collaboration boards.

It is better to over-communicate than under-communicate, particularly in the early stages of remote working. Aside from remaining aligned on output, it is important for social and mental health. Human nature values interaction and this must be considered when developing communication plans and structure. Develop processes and electronic spaces that enable human interaction outside of work. Data#3 staff have created a facebook group to encourage peers to remain active and other teams around the business have started group chats to stay social, share stories and memes.

  • Groom like you are going to work: Hoodies, 3-day growth, PJs, towel post-shower; they are not the best attire. However, we also need to recognise that this model is about productivity. We must all accept that the veneers we adopt when co-located don’t have to rigidly translate to a remote working environment. Adopt a sensible policy, dress to be comfortable and productive.
  • Surroundings: Team meetings involving cameras will provide a view of a private dwelling. Some technologies such as Microsoft Teams do allow you to blur the background for scheduled meetings. Be respectful of people’s private residence. Remote working is about bringing work home with all that it incorporates. The organisation discussion must be about productivity. It is inconsequential if we see our colleague’s kitchen, dining room or office. Note – the shower and bedroom are not meeting rooms, be conscious of when you’re connected, learn from others and don’t take a bathroom break with your headset still connected to a conference call.

Keep customers top of mind: While there will be a tendency to focus on your own internal operations, consideration must be given to working with customers to ensure you’re still interacting in a way that’s delivering value. All participants in a value chain are committed to commerce and improving the current state. They too will have similar stresses. How we go about adopting new practices and working with clients will play a large role in determining who will be successful at managing their way through.

Consider each project, customer obligation and servicing from a remote operations perspective and develop a plan. Have conversations with your clients early so all parties can still transact and operate. This should include the medium you engage, the processes for delivery of your value and how people and technology will work together to achieve target outcomes.

Test, Learn, Remodel: This is an immediate and substantial change to the working model, a model that has been in place since the Industrial Revolution. The new working model is about what value is being delivered. Innovators have been preparing, advancing and delivering on this model for some time. Embrace this change and test, learn and remodel your processes and operations. Use this time to capture what works and what doesn’t so it can be applied, not only during this time but post COVID-19.

All these factors need to be considered and acted upon to some degree for the new working model to be successful. The technology will work. It’s considering all the elements that will determine the success of the new technology. As CIOs will often lament, the success of technology projects has little to do with the technology, but all to do with people operating in a better place than they were before. This cannot be achieved by technology alone.

Lastly – There is good news………truly

Fundamentally, the new model of working will generate change. Decision makers will be forced to confront what productivity truly means. People will rethink the Industrial Revolution driven eight-hour day and output will become king. Flexible work options will become feasible, reducing the need for co-location which will flow to reduce office rental costs, reduced demand on transport infrastructure (reducing government costs) and reducing emissions.

The technologies that underpin the new, modern workplace are transformative. If considered and implemented correctly, your organisation will be in a better position as we emerge post-COVID-19. There will be significant, unharnessed potential with your organisation to leverage your upgraded technologies and a workforce’s understanding of how to deliver new and increased value in a virtual environment.

Data#3 has a range of solutions that will keep your people connected, secure and productive from anywhere. Reach out to me if you have questions or contact a Data#3 expert.  

1. Business Insider Australia, Research suggests there’s a case for the 3 hour workday, Chris Weller, 2017 [Online] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/8-hour-workday-may-be-5-hours-too-long-research-suggests-2017-9?r=US&IR=T

Tags: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Security, The Anywhere Workplace, Collaboration, Information Management, Remote Access, Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Remote Workers, COVID-19

Featured

Subscribe to our blog

Related

Customer Story: A Digital Transformation Story

Digital Transformation solution helps staff serve their community Objective The customer organisation utilised a range of operating systems across the business,…

JuiceIT Digital 2020 Digest
JuiceIT Digital 2020 Digest | Edition 4

The 5 Things that Remain Unchanged for IT Leaders Post-COVID Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote in 1849, ‘plus ça change, plus…

JuiceIT Digital 2020 Digest
JuiceIT Digital 2020 Digest | Edition 2

Letting Go of Normal: Your Post-COVID Survival Guide Over the last few months, many homebound Australians have been taking stock.

JuiceIT Digital 2020 Digest
JuiceIT Digital 2020 Digest | Edition 1

Business as Unusual: The Organisations That Will Emerge Strongest from 2020 When the bushfires that incinerated over 10 million hectares1…

Sink or Swim: Seven Questions Business Leaders Must Answer in the Post-COVID Recovery Phase

Peter will be delivering a live webinar on “Leading Digital Change: Strategic Foundations for an Agile Response” as part of…

The Future Asset Management Considerations for COVID-19

In our last blog, we took a look at the current state of asset management as organisations rapidly implement strategies…

The Here and Now of Asset Management Considerations for COVID-19

As more and more organisations are rapidly moving their workforce to work from home (“WFH”) on a large scale,…

The Remote Working Model
The Remote Working Model

Every industry, from small businesses to the largest global enterprises, is experiencing dramatic changes to the way we work. There…