How to maximise the productivity and job satisfaction of remote employees

By Elise Carmichael, CTO at Lakeside Software, reveals her most powerful tips
Elise Carmichael
Stock image of a homeworker

Oganisations are on the hunt for IT strategies that will increase productivity and satisfaction among their remote workers. While some cling to traditional in-person offices, many are embracing the remote or hybrid workforce model. But to make it work, flexible IT networks and top-notch security are necessary.

According to AT&T's study, fully remote workforces are set to drop from 56% in 2021 to a mere 19% in 2024. On the flip side, the hybrid work model is expected to surge from 42% in 2021 to a whopping 81% in 2024.

Amidst the fierce competition for talent and the fast-changing work model, employers must prioritise how they support the digital employee experience of a remote workforce to ensure sustainable implementation of it. Check out these five fundamental tips for a successful digital workplace strategy.

1. Understand what digital employee experience really is

Digital employee engagement plays a vital role in the productivity, satisfaction, and well-being of virtual workers who rely on technology. Growing in importance, the concept of digital employee experience, or DEX, encompasses employees' interactions with technology throughout the workday.

For remote employees, their technology experience has a higher impact on productivity, job satisfaction, and the quality of customer service. When you’re in an office, it’s easy just to walk over to someone to fix your issue or find a way to carry on with your pressing work. While remote, by contrast, a slow computer or network issues can hinder performance and indirectly affect customers. Poor digital experience also can have severe consequences in an already-strained talent pool, with approximately 36% of employees admitting to considering leaving their jobs due to this reason, and 14% actually doing so.

For example, a UK investment management firm supports a dispersed workforce and monitors employee experience by gathering telemetry data about system performance. In an effort not only to reduce costs but also to improve the digital experience of the employees, a move to a virtual desktop environment started after an analysis of the company’s current performance, followed by mapping end users with the optimal technology for their needs. From there the IT team gained deeper visibility into performance issues that were degrading employee experience and was able to recommend fixes.

2. Know the health of the enterprise IT environment

Recent research from Virgin Media O2 Business revealed that while UK companies have tolerated hybrid working, in many cases the tech has not allowed them to drive efficiency within their organisations. Key findings were that three years after lockdowns began, organisations are still limited by old tech and poor digital skills, with almost a fifth (18%) feeling held back by limited digital skills or resistance to new technology, and an inclination that technology is limiting the ability of businesses to operate efficiently, with 72% labelling it as their biggest challenge.

Guesswork and lack of visibility often hinder IT’s awareness of technical issues and their ability to address them promptly. Accordingly, improving the digital employee experience begins with gaining accurate insight into the enterprise IT environment. Full visibility into endpoint device performance, such as a slow or unresponsive computer, enables organisations to proactively prevent large-scale IT-related downtime and tackle problems before employees notice them. We've all experienced the frustration of “the spinning wheel of death” or blue screens while in the middle of something important, leading us to feel tempted to throw our computers out the window.

It’s entirely possible to stave off employees’ frustrations with tech by prioritising visibility for proactive IT. A large EMEA-based financial institution uses digital health scores in order to gain a quantifiable measurement of end-user experience and understand where impacts to end users are coming from. Understanding the root cause of an issue in the digital workplace proactively reduces overall ticket load by staving off future tickets related to the same root cause.                                                                                                              

3. Gather and use the trove of anonymised data from IT endpoints

Endpoints — from laptops and desktops to virtual machines, servers, Android and iOS devices — hold an incredible amount of data that can yield insights about the real-time health and location of devices.

Being proactive about monitoring and measuring endpoint performance is the best way to get data-backed analysis of how well employees can use their digital tools at any given time. Once IT has that level of understanding about the digital environment, steps can be taken to improve employee experience and satisfaction.

For employers, it is also critical to know that remote workers are not jeopardising their organisational data and the location of end devices. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), for instance, needed a non-intrusive solution that could provide accurate, real-time data from its IT estate. Together with Lakeside Software, DWP used SysTrack, a digital experience monitoring product, and geolocation to cross-reference with publicly available records to identify the country where the asset was currently located.

4. Make sure each employee has the right digital tools, right-sized for their job responsibilities

By analysing data on how employees use their devices and apps, employers can make necessary adjustments to enhance productivity. If a user frequently switches between browser windows, for example, providing them with an additional monitor for their home office could greatly boost their productivity and satisfaction. Right-sizing ensures that users have the appropriate resources and specific devices and apps required for their jobs, minimising disruptions. Right-sizing can also help reduce massive amounts of waste within their organisation. This digital employee strategy improves productivity and morale, especially given that employees rely heavily on technology.

One firm identified that having the right tools at the right time, coupled with other softer remote worker tactics, can contribute significantly to employee satisfaction is HCR Hewitsons. A UK law firm of approximately 800 people is focused on helping employees look after their health during and after the pandemic in three interlinked ways: physical health, mental health, and financial health. The initial focus was on ensuring employees’ physical health. A lot of activity at this stage was ensuring a remote technical set-up and helping to maintain certain communication channels. The focus then moved quickly to mental health — staying in touch, company communications, and holding check-ins with people.

5. Streamline the IT support process

Technical issues are an inevitable aspect of digital environments. Obtaining service desk support for remote workers, however, should not be a daunting or complex process, and it should not involve multiple tickets or lengthy interactions with technicians or worse yet - bots.

The complexity of an issue can escalate the IT support process, involving additional technicians for troubleshooting, in turn, negatively affecting both the employee's digital experience and potentially other users.

Therefore, it is crucial to deliver proactive IT support to recognise any brewing patterns in order to understand and address the underlying causes and avoid wasted time and diminished productivity. Leveraging real-time data, automated detection, and automated remediations can greatly reduce the need for extensive questioning and guesswork at the outset. This empowers technicians to quickly analyse the root causes, resulting in a shorter mean time to resolution (MTTR) and minimising the overall impact on digital experiences.

For remote employees, visibility into Wi-Fi signals, reboot status, and application latency and performance — alongside overall desktop health and compliance — is crucial. For one healthcare organisation with front-line and customer-facing employees distributed working remotely, deploying a digital experience software gave them the visibility and automation needed to reduce 35% of incidents reported among this group.

In preparation for National Work from Home Day on 17 May — and every day where remote/hybrid work is present — organisations must focus on levelling up the digital employee experience. First understanding the concept of digital employee experience and its impact on productivity and job satisfaction is crucial. From there, employers can assess the health of their enterprise IT environment, gather and analyse telemetry data from all corporate endpoints (server or end-user), ensure employees have the right digital tools tailored to their job responsibilities, and streamline the IT support process. By adopting this holistic digital workplace strategy, organisations can enhance productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall digital experiences for their remote workforce, ultimately leading to a healthier organisation at large.

Written by
Elise Carmichael