The sudden shift to remote working may have been good for maintaining productivity while keeping employees safe and healthy, but it also showcased our technological infrastructure’s weak points. In the past two years, who hasn’t attended a glitchy Zoom meeting or dealt with sensitive files that refuse to sync across networks?
While many people have continued to work remotely to benefit public health, these technological stopgaps hold back the full potential of the work from home model. Here are seven technical challenges that negatively affect virtual offices and workers today.
A subpar digital toolkit
Just like you wouldn’t expect office workers to do their jobs without fax machines, telephones, or computers, you can’t expect top-notch productivity from undersupplied remote workers. Remote workers need several tech essentials like robust broadband service, reliable email, and video conferencing tools.
Virtual commuters also need tools that will help them bridge the gap between the physical infrastructure and their digital workspace. For example, a digital mailbox from providers like iPostal1 can keep employees connected to essential correspondence even when they’re not commuting to the office regularly. Using a digital mailbox, remote workers can check their physical mail as quickly as they’d check their email, so there are no worries about physical mail slipping through the cracks.
Employees who work from the office benefit from on-site cybersecurity tools, but remote workers usually have their home internet services with minimal security protection. Without robust cybersecurity, sensitive office data becomes easily accessible to hackers.
DIY computer support
Remote workers who have issues with their technology are on their own. Company IT support can provide help over the phone, but they cannot do their typical tech-support work without in-person services. When devices go offline, remote workers have to use the services they can find–possibly even from their local big box stores.
Tech integration problems
Another tech-related problem common among remote workers involves integrating new apps with pre-existing software. Usually, on-site tech support staff uploads and efficiently integrates new programs. Without tech support, remote workers are on their own, often spending precious productivity working on other tasks.
Video and sound issues
As most remote workers rely on video conferencing apps to connect with other employees, their sound and audio systems need to function correctly. When the ancillary devices fail, it’s tough to communicate. Remote employees have to figure out how to make their microphones and speakers cooperate.
Along with speakers and microphones that don’t work, remote employees also have to deal with sound quality problems. When remote workers cannot understand each other due to poor-quality systems, they can’t perform their jobs efficiently.
Wasting time with front-office and tech tasks
Because remote workers are on their own, they often have to do tasks that they wouldn’t need to worry about when in the office. These tasks take time from productivity tasks that affect the bottom line.
Sometimes problems even arise when remote employees share their broadband with other family members. With children using video conferencing for school, residential systems become overtaxed, and remote employees see their productivity decline from lagging Wi-Fi.
Issues with time zone coordination
When employees need to work together remotely, they have to coordinate their time zones. This coordination means that some employees might have to work together when it’s time to be away from work. The call to meet beyond scheduled hours can brew resentment over missed time with family and friends.
Remote work has proven to be a productive way to help employees stay safe and healthy. But, it’s far from perfect. Employers and employees should work together to solve telecommuting problems and challenges.