The New Norm: 6 Tips to Make Remote Work Easier for Employees

Ever since the onset of the ongoing pandemic, experts had been suggesting that the workplace, as we know it, may never be the same again. During the first quarter of 2020, executives around the globe treated work-from-home as a temporary adjustment. It’s now pretty clear that remote work is here to stay, much like the ongoing pandemic. In fact, remote working will be here even after the pandemic subsides, mainly because businesses are finally experiencing the benefits of remote working.

Remote Work in the Current Climate

The concept of remote working and enabling technologies had been around for a few decades. Experts were already predicting a future where flexible and mobile workspaces would be the norm. However, just as with any significant change, companies had been apprehensive of a working model that challenged their established culture, norms, and processes. But Covid-19 turned out to be the push that they needed to overcome their hesitation and finally undergo the long-awaited transition, albeit at an unprecedented speed. The companies that had already invested in the supporting technologies to some degree appeared to have an edge over the others. But now, almost a year later, most organizations are rapidly catching up on the loopholes left by the abrupt implementations as a response to the crisis.

As of now, IT and security teams are not scrambling to put together a bare minimum plan for a makeshift solution. They’re really investing in the technologies and infrastructure that will enable companies to reap the benefits of remote working long after the virus abates. For instance, companies no longer have to pay for utility bills, and the focus is shifting towards productivity and output instead of counting work hours. Executives may even be regretting paying humongous real-estate rents for years. Employees, on the other hand, are enjoying with their families the hours they would previously spend on the commute. With the freedom and flexibility of the WFH model, they have been channeling their efforts to innovate and improvise from within their comfort zones.

With the COVID-19 pandemic hanging over the entire globe, traditional office environments have been ditched to make way for necessary work-from-home setups. While working remotely has already been adopted in some companies, the current scale on which people are working remotely has never been seen. Like it or not, this new normal is here to stay.

Amidst all the concerns—productivity, leadership, expectations, continuity of company culture, and more—the past couple of years have proven that remote working is indeed possible for many enterprises. While some businesses have hit the ground running, others still have to go through the learning curve and find ways to ensure that employees are in a conducive work environment—even while out of the office.

That said, here are six tips that can make working from home more productive and efficient for employees:

1. Equip Your Team with the Right Devices

Today’s generation of smartphones, tablets, and laptops generally have the specifications necessary for average tasks like email, reports, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. However, these devices may not suffice for some employees who work with computationally- or graphically-intensive applications such as MATLAB, AutoCAD, SOLIDWORKS, CATIA, or Photoshop that require more powerful CPU builds.

Some companies may opt to allow employees to bring home hardware from the office or subsidize a similar setup at home. Both would help assure productivity, even outside of the office environment. If the organization provides the equipment, then employees should be held accountable for its maintenance.

2. Develop Remote Working Policies

Employers’ foremost concern about telecommuting is that their personnel won’t be efficient at home. This is where the need for a clear remote working policy comes in. Establishing guidelines on employees’ availability should be set, whether that’s a straight 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. period on weekdays only or a flexible work schedule that only requires that communication channels be accessible throughout the day.

One thing that organizations should consider in remote working is not to measure work in terms of hours employees render but in their actual output. Setting expectations for deliverables with a specific deadline and then evaluating results is a better productivity measurement than simply tracking hours. Productivity can be measured in different ways: client interactions, complaints resolved, code written, content produced, reports submitted, and so on.

3. Ensure Security for Data and Devices

One of the inherent risks of working remotely is the higher possibility of cybersecurity attacks. After all, reliable security solutions in line with corporate standards are set up within the walls of brick-and-mortar businesses, but no such measures are in place for home networks. That’s why organizations should ensure that employees take the necessary precautions to secure their devices and the data they hold when working remotely.

Among the simpler steps that remote workers can take are installing antivirus software, changing router logins and passwords regularly, configuring Wi-Fi encryption, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if necessary, and watching out for phishing attacks. The company can also invest in device management software that allows the administrator to monitor, manage, and secure all registered devices. This ensures timely delivery of updates, blacklisting of potentially harmful applications, centralized password management, and other security measures.

4. Choose the Right Communication Tools

One of the best things about remote work’s immense takeoff during this time is that there are many technological tools and communication methods available that make frequent communication possible. Email continues to be a reliable form of communication, but direct messaging apps like Skype, Messenger, and Slack are better options when it comes to less formal but time-sensitive communications.

In addition, software like Zoom, Cisco Webex Meetings, GoToMeeting, and other similar applications work best for scheduled team video conferencing, as it allows participants to see each others’ visual cues as if they are having a face-to-face interaction. Team collaboration on documents, reports, project management, etc. is also easier with tools like Google Docs, Trello, Microsoft 360, and Slack.

5. Provide Sufficient Bandwidth

Subpar network quality is one of the biggest and most common technical challenges of telecommuting. While most homes these days have an internet connection installed, it’s very possible for the internet service provider’s infrastructure to become overloaded by hordes of people using the internet simultaneously in their residences for work, school or entertainment purposes.

If the need arises, employers may have to subsidize an additional or upgraded broadband connection for workers whose tasks depend heavily on a reliable internet connection. In some instances, the network quality may be sufficient for the usual tasks but lags during video calls. In this case, teams may need to limit the length and frequency of video meetings to minimize this problem.

6. Ensure Access to All Necessary Applications and Software

Organizations should ensure that home-based employees have secure and seamless access to the applications and data that they are using in the office to allow them to continue working efficiently. This poses a huge challenge to many companies, especially those who have a large workforce and/or use legacy applications.

While remote workers may (and often do) opt to use their own devices (e.g., laptops, tablets and smartphones), installing and managing applications on every single device would be a huge headache for IT departments. Plus, each of these gadgets is an additional security risk that companies would rather avoid. With the right technology, however, providing access to necessary applications and software for all work-from-home employees is doable.

Remote Working Simplified with Parallels RAS

Many organizations are in unexplored territory when it comes to allowing employees to work from home. As outlined above, several measures need to be put in place to enable productivity and effectiveness when working remotely. Ensuring efficiency in remote workers may seem daunting, but it’s easy when you use the right tools and technology. Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) is one of those.

Parallels® RAS is a powerful virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution that delivers applications and desktops seamlessly to any device, allowing any company to retain workforce productivity regardless of where employees are based. Unlike other VDI solutions that are costly and overly complicated, Parallels RAS comes with reasonably-priced licenses and a simplified architecture that in-house IT staff can work with easily. This means your IT department, and consequently, your employees, can get their home devices up and running with the needed applications right away.

When using Parallels RAS, security is already taken care of for you because applications and data are hosted on your own on-premises server or in a highly-secure public cloud like AWS, Azure, or Google. Plus, with your digital assets kept safe in one central location, they remain safe even when a remote device is compromised.

This new normal shouldn’t stop your organization from keeping business as usual. Make working remotely easier for your business and your employees with Parallels RAS!

Download the Trial