Next time you’re on a client site visit, look around and count the empty cubicles or desks. While some workers may be away in meetings or taking care of personal issues, if not taking a long-deserved vacation or day off, the number of employees working from a “formal business location” on a typical day is trending downward.
The remote workforce is expanding and, based on shifting business and personal preferences, expected to continue that growth trajectory for the next few years (if not longer). A 2012 Gallup poll found 39% of employees working remotely in some capacity, meaning they spent at least some of their time in other locations. That number rose to 43% of workers in the 2016 version of that survey.
The international remote workplace trends are even stronger. A recent survey by IWG (the International Workplace Group) determined that 70% of global professionals work remotely least one day a week, with 53% laboring outside their workplace at least half of the week.
How do those numbers compare with your experience? What effects will that have on their building, hiring, and technology plans?
MSPs must know the answers to those questions to have any chance of supporting their clients’ long-term business strategies. With skills shortages in many industries, many businesses are rethinking their workspace requirements and, giving employees more flexibility in their choice of schedules and work environments.
For example, companies based in cities with major traffic congestion are more likely to allow team members to work from home certain days of the week. Why? Many studies have shown that these HR policies attract a more diverse workforce and help improve employee productivity and job satisfaction.
That’s where MSPs can help. SMBs can’t just send their employees home with a laptop and hope their internet connection holds out. A productive workplace requires the right tools, so providers can differentiate themselves by delivering just what their clients need. The five most essential elements of a remote work solution are:
1. RMM: this is an obvious one. Remote monitoring and management tools allow MSPs to see and support every machine on their clients’ works ̶ desktops, laptops, access points, printers, and other devices employees would use in a typical workday. No matter where they travel, you can ensure their systems are secure, updated, and performing properly.
2. VPN: no employee should be able to access a business network without using one of these secure and encrypted “access tunnels.” Virtual private networks ensure that all employees can retrieve files and use their CRM and other workplace systems from virtually any location anywhere they have internet service. These technologies lessen MSPs’ security nightmares and boost productivity.
3. VoIP: the lack of close communication is one of the biggest challenges for remote workers. A distributed workforce needs to be well connected. Not just through email or chat boxes, but with voice-to-voice communications that integrate with business applications such as a CRM or other account management tools.
When properly configured, VoIP empowers remote workers. They can check co-workers availability status (on the phone, away from the desk, or readily accessible), instantly access records for incoming and outgoing calls, and monitor call stats.Hosted VoIP makes it even easier to work from different locations. It’s the perfect system for world travelers (no need for special phones or expensive international plans), and mobile apps make it convenient to place and receive calls from virtually anywhere at any time.
4. BC/BDR: one of the biggest mistakes SMBs often make when setting up a mobile workforce is failing to ensure offsite employee data is properly stored and protected. Have they accounted for all the business information and application files on their phones, tablets, PCs, and desktops?
As companies grow and the number of offsite devices flourishes, tracking and managing all that data gets harder. Unfortunately, government and industry compliance auditors don’t accept ignorance as an excuse. That’s why SMBs need qualified backup and disaster/recovery specialists managing their systems.
5. Collaboration suites: Many businesses use Slack, Skype for Business, and other online tools to host video meetings and webinars, and to collaborate on projects with co-workers, partners, and clients.
Emphasize Remote Worker Support
One of the best ways to differentiate your MSP business is to stress (and demonstrate) your teams’ mobile capabilities and understanding of remote working environments. Start by implementing these technologies in your organization to give everyone an opportunity to master the features and gain a better understanding of the pros and cons of each.
Experience typically increases a team’s comfort level and simplifies the sales and configuration processes. A little knowledge goes a long way.
If you enjoyed this blog, you might also be interested in the blog: Boost Your Vertical Sales with VoIP