Everything about work has changed since COVID-19 wreaked havoc worldwide, especially about concept and experiences of “work from home” (WFH). Companies and employees have long debated the pros and cons of WFH, especially millennial professionals who believe all they need is a laptop, an internet connection, and a Starbucks to get work done from anywhere, anytime. Now, the future of work (i.e. WFH) enabled by technology is a permanent shift. Companies are already upgrading and testing their technology infrastructure to give an enterprise-grade experience to remote workers (all happening at lightning speed since the last 10 days).
A new category, “employee experience,” has emerged and is now equally important as customer experience. Both are important, giving awesome experience to customers and employees is a new reality for companies. Making communications and collaboration easily available is part of the new work experience.
Industry reports and surveys conducted by technology company (fuze) indicate the following statistics:
- 83% of workers do not believe they need to be in an office to be productive
- 43% believe they would be more productive working from home
- 70% of those surveyed between the ages of 16–44 want to be more mobile at work
- 88% use smartphones for work daily
- 49% use a tablet minimum three times per week.
As a digital transformation leader, I have worked closely with CIOs, CTOs, and other technology leaders for a long time, but never have I seen such strong commitment and focus on “Employee Experience” and leveraging various technology and tools to make WFH@scale a reality as I have in the past 10 days. Scale and speed are key in enabling this digital workforce transformation.
Here are few observations, learnings, and best practices implemented in successful, large-scale WFH migration program at a large enterprise (yes, all done in the last 10 days):
Leadership at this company committed early to employee health and social responsibility to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. They also committed to using technology and infrastructure upgrades to enable the success of WFH migration. (10,000+ employees made remote in 10 days).
A task force was set up and key metrics put in place to measure the remote work experience. (Metrics include employee experience surveys, VPN speed, help desk for technology migration, security patches, use of cloud technologies, etc.). Daily metrics were reviewed with leadership and actions taken to ensure that all is “green.”
Monitoring VPN for peak thresholds and average daily use is a key metric. Tracking VPN use using Green (up to 70%), Amber (71–85%), and Red (86–100%) threshold limits fosters smooth operations. It is important to compare the daily metrics to previous day and trailing week’s trends. Using insights and historical trends, experts were able to augment VPN capacity before it became an issue. The upgrade happened at least 2–3 times to accommodate the pattern shift in remote VPN use.
Tracking employee/number of devices migrating to home and use of access technology is helpful in understanding the speed of the shift to WFH. Key measurement indicators are:
- How many devices are on the corporate network?
- Daily shift of devices to home and use of VPN?
- Daily shift to access corporate network via use of secure internet technologies (non-VPN).
Skype and Microsoft Teams played a crucial role in employees staying connected and getting meaningful work done on time and with an awesome experience. Key highlights are:
- 50% increase in use of Microsoft technologies i.e. Teams. The majority of workers were first-time WFH employees, so collaboration and staying connected with co-workers was key. Teams proved to be a very valuable tool and collaboration platform.
- Skype was also a very valuable tool. Most people normally use Skype as a default communication/conferencing tool. We saw an increased use of non-VPN Skype connections.
- Many large employee team meetings/webinars/town halls were happening across the board, resulting in the need to substantially increase Skype and Teams licenses.
Support help desk:
This is a lifeline, a savior, and an essential tool to get employees migrated to WFH. Be prepared for a challenging time in this category: support calls and chats will drastically increase, and SLAs will be missed for support quality and response time. Delays are expected, proactive efforts to increase staff, and being ready with frequently asked questions and simple tips for WFH will be required. You will get all types of calls, sometimes as funny as power not plugged in. Take support seriously as you will see 200–300 % increase in call and chat volumes.
Security and encryption:
With a shift in lot of devices moving to home (laptops and especially desktops), security and encryption will be a crucial category. Cloud management gateways will be used for adherence and patch distribution over the internet. The capacity of security gateways will have to be increased and added security tools such as BitLocker will become important for data encryption and protection.
Employee satisfaction surveys:
Nothing is as important as rating the employee experience. The survey is a key measurement tool and will have to be initiated twice a week (approx. 40–50% response rate is typical). Two key criteria will be measured:
- Performance of computers at home vs office
- Employee experience with the overall shift to home and support provided to them.
The future of work is here, the way people communicate and collaborate with their co-workers has changed. Empowering employees and equipping them with the right tools and technologies will be a huge differentiator and key for employee experience index. Companies and technology leaders will leverage cloud, machine learning, data and analytics to make this digital workforce transformation a permanent shift.
About the author:
Sunil Sehgal is a global executive for digital transformation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (+1) 678-361-4357