Remote work

Working in an office day in, day out can be a real drag for many of today’s employees. Traffic during commutes, lousy weather, drama in the workplace, poorly designed office environments, as well as hovering managers can make workspaces today feel just as oppressive as they did 20, 30, or even 50 years ago. Sure we’ve moved past cubicles and into open floor plan offices. We’ve traded in our all-beige typewriters and personal computers for smartphones and tablets, but the nature of work itself hasn’t shifted at all.

Workers must come into the office to do their work.

But why?

Working in an office can be an outdated mode of thinking about work. Across every industry, technology has replaced not only paper ("the paperless office"), but people. Companies don't need the same amount of people anymore to be as productive as they've always been. We are moving towards a society without employees. It's not here yet, but it's coming.

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Wright Business Technologies
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KEEPING YOUR BUSINESS RUNNING
SMOOTHLY
NIGHT AND DAY.
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The Right Managed IT Strategy

Information technology has advanced to the point that an employees physical presence in a workspace isn’t necessary. With readily available IT infrastructure, cloud services, and access to the internet 24/7, workers can collaborate anywhere at any time.

The right managed IT strategy and IT infrastructure in place, remote work can unlock the highest potential of your best employees while reducing the burdens and costs associated with maintaining a physical location to have work occur in. Today’s IT advancements allow employees to do work anywhere.

Trends in Remote Work

Employees love nothing more than a bump in their base salaries for a job well done. However, that’s the old way of thinking. With baby boomers aging out of the workforce or moving into managerial positions, those in the real day-to-day trenches are more likely to be gen-Xers and those notoriously hard-to-please millennials. Don’t believe the headlines bemoaning the fickle nature of this new generation of employees, they are easy to understand and, better yet, don’t necessarily tie satisfaction to pay.

What this means is that the remote work trend is set to accelerate. A 2016 FlexJobs study found that 60% of millennials rated their productivity higher when working remotely as opposed to in their offices.

Furthermore, 82% of respondents linked loyalty to their companies, and commitment to their jobs, and the ability to work flexibly. Two-thirds of millennial job seekers say remote work options give them a more favorable opinion of an employer.

That makes sense when looking at both gen-Xers and millennials as a cohort. While extremely different in how they view the world, both generational groups broadly agree on a preference for autonomy and self-direction in their workplaces.

However, it’s not just the younger generations that prefer to remote work. Now that remote work is possible and secure with the right managed IT setup, baby boomers are jumping on board as well. According to the AARP, 34% of boomers nearing retirement age would prefer to work from home as opposed to retiring.

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Many business leaders even agree that remote work is the way going forward. According to Fast Company, a recent survey at the Global Leadership Summit in London showed over a third of executives and business owners surveyed thought that half their workforce would be working remotely by 2020.

That estimate is far short of what the reality of work will be like in the coming decade. The truth is, if you have a white-collar job, you are probably already working remotely and don’t even know it. Every time an employee checks their email, whether, on their smartphone, smartwatch, or on their company-issued computer during the evenings or weekends, they are working remotely. Employers just don’t know it yet!

Other office work trends bubbling to the fore, such as hot-desking, hotelling, and the overall move towards highly flexible open space floor plans merely act as a stop-gap measure for full, autonomous remote work in the near future.

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Concerns for Remote Working

Employees, especially millennials and the soon-to-come gen-Z workers, want more autonomy and the ability to work remotely at least a few times per week. Some employers though have reservations.

Allowing your employees to work remotely requires a great deal of trust on the part of business owners. It also requires highly-motivated employees who have bought into the company's mission and their roles within that mission. That can be a tall order for many businesses.

Remote work may be the solution for a series of age-old problems: low employee morale, high turnover, and stagnant worker productivity. When coupled with an employee vetting procedure, clear rules for work, IT infrastructure monitoring, and other readily available means of promoting employer-employee trust, remote work could be just what your business needs.

10 Big Reasons to Let Your Employees Work Remotely from Home

1. Huge employee satisfaction bump

There’s no way around it, employees who have the option to work from home from time to time, even if they don’t take advantage of the opportunity to do so, are much happier.

2. Increased worker productivity

Happy workers satisfied with their working arrangement means better productivity. Today’s economy is driven by innovation which only occurs when collaborative team members are focused on achieving your company’s goals, and not how and when to quit.

3. Alternative compensation strategy

Over a third of millennial workers would choose the option to work from home over a paycheck. Many old school employers may think this is a ploy to goof-off. This would be a huge mistake. Many millennials already work long hours and see remote work as an opportunity to turn wasted time, such as commuting, dealing with office drama, and getting away from other office distractions.

4. More efficient

Millennials are considered by many to be the hardest working generation who, according to numerous studiescare more about efficiency than any generation that preceded them. Traditional office working arrangements are inefficient, and we all know it. Why fight efficiency when you can harness it? According to Global Workplace Analytics, some remote workers are 20% to 25% more efficient than conventional office workers.

5. Reduce office infrastructure costs

Remote work gives companies an opportunity to reduce the cost of simply doing business person-to-person.

6. Reduce office furnishing costs

Office furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) are expensive. Furnishing an entire desk setup can easily cost a company on a shoestring budget several thousand dollars per employee. You’ll also have to finish, furnish, and provide meeting and conference rooms, bathrooms, breakrooms, and a bevy of other spaces in a conventional office space. However, with the right managed IT infrastructure, this needn’t be the case at all. Businesses can maintain a space for business to occur and for group collaboration to happen in person, and leave how work is done up to employees.

7. Encourage employee autonomy

Conventional office spaces reflect conventional ideas about office hierarchy. Bosses get corner offices and the office grunts who do the actual work sit in cramped cubicles or soulless rows of desks. This is a moral and productivity nightmare that must be abolished. With a remote-work setup, no one dictates to an employee how to work most comfortably and effectively. This sense of autonomy can encourage employees to be more productive.

8. Allow older workers to continue contributing

As many employees age, they will naturally start setting their sights on retirement. However, other employees find value, meaning, and purpose in their day-to-day jobs.

Older employees often possess a body of institutional knowledge that can only be gained from decades of experience. Allowing these valuable employees to leave would be a waste of years of experience that could be translated into clear monetary value. Allowing older teammates and leaders to work remotely can give them a comfortable alternative to continuing to bring contributions to the company versus the daily grind.

9. Attractive perk for young talent

Attracting and retaining the best employees is a challenge for every company. The best and brightest hires, particularly those in the Gen-X and millennial cohorts, are used to jumping from one gig to the next at the slightest provocation or even a minor pay raise. Putting remote working options on the table in front of the best talent will give you an advantage over the competition. This is especially important for agile startups, and small businesses who may not be able to match the outright salary or benefit offers thrown out by multinational corporations. One thing lean companies can provide, however, is flexibility.

10. Indirect benefits cascade

Finally, remote working has many indirect benefits to employees, employers, and the world at large that are difficult to qualify but obvious in their ramifications. This is what we call a “cascade” of indirect benefits. 

For example, remote working eliminates an employee’s need to commute. This is a direct benefit to the employee. Indirectly, employers benefit from a happier, more productive employee who is not frustrated or stressed by his morning commute. Employees with children can be more responsive to family needs and emergencies which, in turn, reduces the burden of childcare for their partners which, in turn, improves their productivity and satisfaction and so on. The potential positive ramifications of well-designed remote work programs are endless.

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IT TRENDS
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The IT industry is prime for significant changes in 2019. Are Houston business owners ready to take advantage of what is to come?

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Information technology (IT) systems and services are essential for companies to do business in today’s hyper-connected world.

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Your businesses information technology infrastructure, including hardware, software, and cloud services, is essential in today's digital age. Everything is connected, integrated, and everything can take advantage of Big Data to give you and your business an analytical edge and essential information and insights into market behavior.

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Securing data for remote workers

With work increasingly moving out of office cubicles, desks, and filing cabinets, and onto servers, remote networks, and the cloud, the risks of falling prey to cyber theft and cyber attacks has also increased dramatically.

However, with the right IT security infrastructure and cybersecurity protocols in place, many of the most common vectors for a cybersecurity breach can be managed, contained, or even wholly mitigated.

Following are some easy ways businesses looking to move some or all of their workforce into a partial or virtual workspace can manage data security for their remote employees.

1. Employe two-factor identification

Accurate multi-factor identification is one of the only easy ways to ensure information security in a remote work context. Two-factor identification requires employees to present any network or system they wish to access, and the data therein, with a combination of two or three different types of factors: either something they know, something they have or something they are.

In practical terms, that means a hacker with someone’s stolen password (something they know) can’t access sensitive data. Even an enterprising cybercriminal with both an employee’s stolen password and recovery email information still can’t access your business’s data because multi-factor authentication requires that they also have your employee’s actual smartphone or another device such as a random password generator.

2. Enact rigorous data security protocols

If your business is serious about implementing a remote working strategy for some or all of your employees, it is vital to enact data security protocols. These can be instructionals for employees outlining and laying out the correct as well as incorrect ways to work remotely. 

Like an employee handbook, you’ll have to spell out for your employee's good data security practices, such as reporting suspicious email links. The intent is to educate your employees about what to do and what steps to take to maintain useful information protection policies but also prevent minor security breaches from becoming critical security breaches.

3. Implement IT security monitoring and accountability

Finally, it is essential to have an information security expert on the beat so to speak. This can be achieved by hiring an IT security professional or outsourcing cybersecurity to third-party providers like Wright Business Technologies. Active IT security not only deters would-be attackers, just as security in real life can stop would-be criminals, it also allows a professional to monitor and maintain your IT and cloud infrastructure proactively. Exploitable weaknesses can be addressed before a damaging cybersecurity breach occurs and troublesome internal users can be notified of their problematic behavior.