Working Hard or Hardly Working?
Ensuring Productivity in a Post-Pandemic World
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted enterprise operations across the world. Quarantines, lockdowns, and social isolation required millions around the world to quickly shift to work-from-home setups, accelerating the remote work model that had previously struggled to gain traction. At first, companies turned to makeshift remote models to keep up with the situation, waiting for normalcy to return. However, as we now slip into the third year of COVID-19, it has become amply clear that both the virus and the remote work model are here to stay.
Most workplaces now offer either fully remote employment or hybrid models, with a substantial portion of employees spending their work hours off-premises. An IWG study finds that 64% of recruiters report that pitching a work-from-home policy helps them find high-quality talent. Indeed, in some sectors, remote work is becoming not only a preferred model but also a necessity – finance, healthcare, tech, IT and telecommunications, and education, among others. According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, hybrid work models are likely to persist well beyond the pandemic, with a “structural shift in where work takes place”, especially for the “highly educated, well-paid” workforce. The future of work is set to be remote, offering numerous advantages, from eliminating commute for employees to expanding the pool of talent for employers to hire from.
However, despite the many benefits, remote working is not without its limitations. Given the haste with which enterprises had to shift to remote models, they have faced (and continue to do so) a significant challenge in ensuring security and productivity. While the issues of security are relatively more quantifiable, there is little clarity, and often widespread contradiction, about the productivity impact of remote work. So far, many studies have shown that employees report increased productivity from home. However, a study conducted by Microsoft, involving over 60,000 employees for six months revealed that while remote work may cause short-term productivity to increase, in the long term, innovation and productivity are likely to decrease.
The “COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey” by PwC shows that for 41% of finance leaders, the effect on workforce/reduction in productivity is one of the top three COVID-19 concerns.At the same time, in a survey conducted by AirTasker, 29% of remote workers have reportedly struggled to find a proper work-life balance (compared to only 23% of office employees). Thus, this tumultuous, abrupt shift of workers from on-site to remote work environments is challenging both organizations and their employees.
Here, we delve into how this model of work affects productivity, the new and unique challenges it presents for employers, and how such challenges can be successfully addressed and solved.
Managing remote teams comes with unique challenges that require unique solutions. According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, over 60% of the surveyed employers are struggling to maintain company culture as well as manage employees and meet their remote needs, with over 35% grappling with changes in employee productivity. Among enterprises, there are two broad challenges: a) a direct decline in employee productivity due to distractions, resulting from the lack of monitoring in a work-from-home setting; and b) indirect productivity losses due to inadequate IT support during technical glitches and downtime, and remote security concerns.
Less Monitoring, More Distractions
A recent Microsoft study found that after responding to incoming e-mail or instant messages, workers took an average of 15 minutes to return to tasks such as writing reports or computer code. The break led to other distractions, and the employees ended up spending additional time responding to more messages or surfing the internet. Chief Scientific Officer Eric Horvitz notes, “I was surprised by how easily people were distracted and how long it took them to get back to the task.”
Many employees have reported that working from home has created more distractions given the easy and unsupervised access to entertainment, online shopping, etc. This can hamper work efficiency, which is harmful to both the organization and the employee, as the latter struggles to keep up with workload and deadlines. The situation can quickly snowball into a vicious loop if left unmitigated. Thus, monitoring is an essential component for a sustainable remote work model for the benefit of all. Organizations need a framework to limit distractions and track productivity, to get the most out of their employees’ time, while also helping employees maintain a good work-life balance and safeguard their mental health.
Inadequate IT Support for Technical Challenges
In an office setting, employees rarely have to concern themselves about technical arrangements such as connection security, software, etc. Moreover, in instances of technical glitches, IT support is immediately available on-premises. At home, however, such technical infrastructure is not available, which can lead to many work interruptions and employee frustration, adversely affecting productivity. Currently, most enterprises, especially small and medium businesses, rely on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology to facilitate remote work. However, VDIs come with a host of limitations. For instance, most VDIs do not offer offline mode and any disruption in internet connectivity can translate into productivity loss. Moreover, performance and user experience can be impacted, since computing power is transferred from the data center to remote users.
Another issue is cybersecurity. While this is largely seen as a macro concern for organizations, at a more micro level, it also affects employee productivity. In a remote work situation, part of the responsibility of safeguarding from security breaches can often fall on the employee. However, most employees will not be able to execute cybersecurity best practices adequately, making such a setup insufficient from a security perspective and stressful for employees. A secure remote work setup should not demand much effort from the end-user and work quietly in the background — facilitating employee productivity instead of compromising it.
Evren: The Enterprise OS for the Modern Remote Workplace
In this era of remote work, businesses need to adapt in a way that helps them minimize productivity losses. After all, the viability and profitability of any company depend heavily on the performance of employees and teams. Enterprise leaders, however, can only devote so much time and attention to overcoming these challenges without adversely affecting their need to focus on the bigger picture.
This is where you turn to Evren: a centrally managed enterprise operating system (OS) that allows your company to streamline end-user IT. On a single platform, Evren offers a comprehensive, plug-and-play solution to all productivity challenges — securing your business, optimizing productivity, and facilitating smooth IT functioning.
User-Friendly Interface with Easy Installation & Deployment
Evren works on all laptops and PC devices and comes with an automated installer. No more elaborate setup processes — employees can simply run the installer and their device is ready to use in 30 minutes. This minimizes the need for onsite IT support time during deployments. By leveraging Evren’s automation, you can focus on scaling your business and reducing process complications. Moreover, the OS is user-friendly and requires no learning curve, allowing even the least tech-savvy of employers to perform their tasks with ease.
Feature-Rich for Effective Monitoring & Eliminating Distractions
Evren offers a host of features that are dedicated to boosting employee productivity by limiting distractions and allowing for monitoring. It provides reports and data from device usage, application usage, and system reports to help you track the usage patterns of employees, visualizing productivity and incentivizing your teams. Moreover, such data can help your organization create better work processes and streamline operations. Evren’s URL filtering feature allows admins to block and allow the relevant URLs, such that users can only visit certain websites on company time, which in turn ensures a cleaner focus on work. It also allows you to restrict Google accounts to certain domains to be used on the browser. Using Evren OS, your IT team can track all laptops/PCs, with detailed information on the apps, patches, and configuration on each device. The company can remotely install/uninstall and configure applications using the Evren application management feature, giving admins the power to permit apps that are used by the employees.
Centrally Managed for Seamless Functioning & Prompt IT Support
With Evren’s central management, all aspects of user, device, browser, and application policies can be remotely and effectively managed using a browser-based point-and-click interface. It ensures that all configurations are always up to date and employees do not have to face downtime or spend time on manual updates. Evren’s certificate management also allows the deployment or removal of device certificates, which are used for application authentication, network authentication, or self-signed certificates for internal usage. With remote USB and Bluetooth management, a simple toggle button can control enabling and disabling of managed devices. In the case of any technical glitches, this central and remote management setup can decrease IT response time drastically and ensure minimal time loss for the affected employees.
Built-In Security Management for Hassle-Free Endpoint Security
The Evren OS has a built-in security system that automatically updates itself to stay up-to-date and provide continued protection against ransomware, phishing, etc. through its many features. For instance, the full disk encryption protects the entire volume and all files on the drive against unauthorized access; application sandboxing, which keeps different apps and software on a device isolated from each other, ensures that in the event of a security breach through one software, the rest remain unaffected. Moreover, end-users are not allowed admin privileges: an admin password is only available to IT admin through the OS manager portal, and is device-specific and valid for just 24 hours. Thus, Evren frees you and your employees from the burden of cybersecurity concerns and allows them the peace of mind to focus on their work.
Caught between the pros and cons of remote work and on-site work? Get the best of both worlds by shifting to Evren. Set up a free consultation now.