Remote work is gaining popularity as it gives the employees the much-needed work-life balance, along with a flexible and comfortable work environment. It also enables organizations to scale up easily without investing much in the resources. Companies are exploring varied technologies to seamlessly support, manage and streamline the device deployment options and processes to mitigate most of the obstacles faced by the remote workers. For instance, software solutions like Mobile device management for Android and Windows have made it possible for organizations to secure their data, network, and applications on remote devices, while employees work in distant locations.
Yet there are certain challenges faced by the organizations and the employees while creating a remote workforce.
Here we look at six key mobile-workforce challenges and ways to overcome them.
Security is one of the major challenges for mobile employees and remote employees who have clients in different locations and is also a key concern for regular employees taking an occasional work-at-home option and employers who follow Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) policies. Some of the risks include:
• Hacking risks on mobile devices
• Wi-Fi security risks while using public Wi-Fi like those in cafes or malls
• Installing malicious apps from untrusted sources and tampering with the device settings
• Increased risk of malicious access to corporate data and application, like allowing unauthorized people to access company devices
• using un-protected devices for accessing work files etc
• Problems like loss of a mobile device, unencrypted sensitive data, lack of data protection (password protection), opening attachments from suspicious sources
How to overcome security risks
• Devising and implementing clear and transparent remote work policies applicable to company-owned and BYOD devices
• Using Mobile Device Management for Android, iOS and Windows devices assist the companies to monitor, manage, audit, and secure corporate devices, data, and applications. These solutions give you a range of policy control and security options to manage and secure corporate data and apps for both the company-owned and person-owned mobile devices.
• Enforcing data encryption on all devices
• Using a Virtual Private Network to secure all web traffic flowing through your network
• Defining access policies based on the level of seniority and the time required to access official data
• Keeping employees updated with the security policies and ensure that they are being followed
Communication is the key to a productive team, and remote workers face challenges in coordinating with on-floor team members, other remote workers, and employees in different time zones. Sometimes communication methods are not reliable because of poor network conditions.
Neha Tare, Pre-Sales Consultant, Cognizant, says, “We sometimes face problems in connecting to our corporate collaboration tool for our audio calls. Our company has thus provided a toll-free number to connect to such meetings. They have also provided call-back service to contact the on-site team.”
How to overcome communication problems
• Leverage technology to communicate with remote employees. Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Slack, GoToMeeting etc. are popular tools that are being used for communication
• Choose overlapping time slots that suit the majority of team members in case of time-zone differences
• Deploy an MDM solution that provides an end-to-end communication suite for regular app updates, information-sharing and near-real-time content-sharing options
• Ensure there are alternate ways to connect in case of network issues
• Choose a mobile device management solution that offers options to utilize two-way chat and VoIP calls with IT admins and fellow employees
Employers find it difficult to track the amount of work a remote worker has completed on a day-to-day basis and tracking their productivity is a challenge for the remote employees themselves. The problem is twofold: ensuring that the work is accomplished, and employees are using their time efficiently and effectively.
How to overcome productivity tracking issues
• Set clear organization expectations and employee goals on a daily, monthly or yearly performance
• Remotely troubleshoot issues right from your desktop with Scalefusion Remote Cast & Control.
• Implement strict kiosk lockdown mode on the company-owned devices to ensure that your mobile workers are using the devices for work purposes only
• Give flexibility to the remote employees to update their work progress and self-appraisal of their work
• Share regular feedbacks about their performance
A regular employee interacts daily with his/her co-workers, maybe on coffee breaks or lunchtime together or a brief chit-chat while working. This helps develop a sense of bonding, trust and a social circle in the professional sphere which is good for both work-related and mental development. A remote employee may enjoy the feeling of isolation but may lose out on interaction opportunities and professional learnings from their co-workers – like the challenges they faced while working on a problem and how they solved it
How to overcome isolation and build your community
• Encourage the use of innovative yet secure communication mediums to share thoughts and interests and to promote employee engagement
• Encourage remote workers to take initiatives to know the team as people
• Plan frequent virtual meetings to discuss issues
• If a remote employee can visit the workplace, you can plan team-building activities or team lunch around their visit
Many remote workers are faced with time management issues and distractions if they are working from home or may be out of a mall! Distractions like the sound of a doorbell, noisy neighbour or other aspects like paying attention to issues like bill payments, grocery pickup, laundry, browsing the internet can prove to be a concern as they disrupt the smoothness of the workflow.
How to overcome distractions and manage time effectively
Remote employees must take measures to manage time and distractions by
• Using time-tracking software to manage activities and working hours
• Creating to-do lists to prioritize activities
• Using MDM-backed devices with kiosk lockdown mode
• Segregating work areas like a separate workspace (or room) or going to a coffee shop that supports a peaceful work environment
• Following a schedule, with regular breaks
Remote employees carry the pressure of proving themselves, for which they tend to work longer and cannot separate work and family time; they spend most of the time sitting in one place and have erratic sleeping and eating habits, which often take a toll on mental and physical health.
Employees working remotely should:
• Create and follow a schedule for work as well as personal activities
• Follow a timeline for different activities
• Separate work and family time
• Ensure and follow breaks for lunch and mild exercises
Remote work can be a win-win for both employees and organizations. It gives flexibility to the workers, which makes them more productive and the organization is expected to invest less in resources like office space and tech equipment. It’s imperative to follow a careful and detailed planning to overcome remote work challenges by taking steps like deploying a robust Mobile Device Management software with the help of an expert vendor for securing your data and device, using a time tracking software for tracking productivity and time and executing a flawless and suitable mobile strategy can go a long way in creating a conducive work environment for remote employees.
Vandita is a passionate writer and IT enthusiast. By profession, she is a Computer Lecturer at the University of Delhi and has previously worked as a Software Engineer with Aricent Technologies.