The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is forcing organisations to commit to remote working to combat the spread of the virus and future-proof their business.
For most organisations, keeping employees safe and productivity levels elevated means fast-tracking the use of new digital communication and collaboration tools to support global and local teams. But as society turns its focus from initial response to recovery from the pandemic’s impact, businesses now need to consider how new hybrid working models will fit into ongoing operations.
Different remote work models
Whether it be a shift to a permanent remote work or a more flexible working model, the traditional workplace is set to drastically change for most Australians—and in ways that many feel is for the better. Currently, companies are managing this change in varied ways. Some have given employees permission to continue working remotely until the vaccines are distributed. Others have recalled staff to the workplace on different schedules and in staggered groups, while others are leaving it entirely up to individual workers to decide where to base themselves.
Most businesses around the world are also now starting to think about the longer term, including alternative ways to structure work communication and hours, as well as physical presence of employees. As a result, many organisations are converging to a popular solution of implementing a hybrid working model- combining remote work with office work.
The remote work experience of Australians so far
Research conducted in July 2020 by Indeed, shows that 56% of employees are more productive when working from home and 48% feel more engaged.
Greater adoption of new cloud-based technologies is the major driver of this trend. These solutions are critical to providing the required levels of flexibility, transparency, and collaboration necessary for effective remote working. New research from GetApp shows that 30% of employees say that collaboration software is the most important digital tool they use for ensuring personal productivity.
To help businesses understand how they can better support an increasingly hybrid workforce, GetApp surveyed 416 Australian employees about their remote working experiences since the start of the pandemic. The full research methodology can be found at the bottom of the article.
Collaboration and online meeting software are most critical for businesses
While using technology to increase productivity has been high on Australian corporate agendas for some time, COVID-19 has accelerated this trend as organisations navigate lockdowns and address safety concerns. As a result, Aussie businesses are now increasingly reliant on digital tools to maximise employee output.
Key to them are solutions designed to connect staff and help them collaborate more effectively. Employees report that collaboration tools were the most valuable for ensuring productivity, followed by online meeting software and document sharing software .
Asked how often they use specific digital tools; responses reveal that nearly half of all employees use online meeting tools and document sharing tools daily and nearly 60% of respondents claimed to use email apps multiple times throughout the day.
Lack of company-provided tech tools poses major challenge for remote workforce
Given the rapid shift to remote working, it is not surprising that many workers found they lacked the equipment and tools they need to work from home. This includes physical items, like extra monitors and work phones, as well as software solutions like productivity software. To overcome this challenge, many have been sourcing their own solutions to the daily work challenges they encounter.
36% of employees confirm that they regularly use one or more personally-provided tools to be productive and collaborative at work.
While this might not seem like a significant issue, businesses put themselves and their employees at risk if it’s not addressed. Using a personal mobile or laptop that is not connected to a VPN can lead to a security breach, while using unauthorised cloud apps to share information may breach data protection obligations. It’s important that employers provide staff with the tools necessary to do their job as well as guidelines on how to use them safely.
Beyond this issue, employees contend with a variety of other challenges when away from the office too. From dodgy Wi-Fi to VPN issues, there are a broad range of IT issues employers will need to address if they are to optimise their remote workforce.
Over half would move further from the office as remote working goes mainstream
As Australians continue to adapt to this new reality, we are unlikely to see a return to the old way of working. Over half of employees (52%) say they would consider moving further away from the office now that a hybrid working model is more accepted.
Ultimately, organisations are responsible for ensuring not just that employees have the hardware and software they need to do their job, but that they are using it safely and in compliance. As a result, those organisations that invest in the tools and training needed to support hybrid working will be best positioned to retain and attract talent.
Productivity and remote workplace study: GetApp Australia Survey methodology
Data for this study was collected in November 2020 from an online survey of 416 respondents that live in Australia.
To participate in the survey, respondents had to be:
- Employed full-time or part-time, or self-employed
- Working for a company with at least two people
- Working remotely sometimes or all the time since COVID-19.