Coronavirus: Remote workers air long-term productivity concerns over home-working tech

Research from managed service provider Atlas Cloud highlights concerns from remote workers that their work-from-home tech kit might not be up to the job in the long term

More than a third (38%) of the UK’s remote workers claim their home-working tech setups need to be urgently revamped to ensure they can remain productive throughout the duration of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. 

That is one of the key findings of a survey by managed service provider Atlas Cloud, which polled 3,000 office workers on how they are finding having to work from home due to the lockdown.

The company claims the survey is the largest-scale poll of its kind into the working habits of British office workers since the onset of the outbreak, with the publication of its findings timed to coincide with the end of their first month working remotely under lockdown.

The majority of survey participants (79%) said they have proven that they are able to work productively from home under lockdown, but more than half (57%) said the companies they work for should be doing more to support them with that.

For instance, such as by making provisions to ensure they can work from home on a long-term basis, given that there is currently no clear sign as to how long people will be expected to work remotely for.

On this point, just under a fifth of respondents said their company needs to “act urgently” to ensure they are able to work productively from home during lockdown, with participants claiming they have encountered 1.5 technological problems each since working from home.

These include poor connectivity (which is a problem 34% of respondents reported) and encountering difficulties when trying to access work files from home, which is an issue flagged by 22% of participants.

In addition to this, 20% of respondents said they have device issues, and claim the quality of the laptop, desktop or tablet they use for work is negatively affecting their ability to work.

Pete Watson, CEO of Atlas Cloud, said the results are hardly surprising, given the coronavirus has led to “the largest overnight change in British working habits since the outbreak of the Second World War.”

That said, the suddenness with which companies have had to adapt to working from home does not mean that cyber security, IT resiliency or business productivity should be compromised as a result.

Therefore, it is important for CIOs and other IT decision-makers to start thinking in the long- erm about how they can best support their remote workers.

“The research shows that office workers may not be working from home as safely from a business and cyber security prospect as they could be,” he said.

“This should not at all be a blame game. Businesses and office workers face a national emergency of the kind we have never seen before, and the aim for all of us is to help British businesses perform as well as they can do during this time.

“We anticipate that among the largest changes we’ll see to our working lives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is a much larger proportion of Britain’s workforce working from home more often and a change in how British businesses manage their IT and handle business information.

“While there is a huge need for businesses to think and invest long term, now is the time for short-term solutions to solve the problems facing office-based staff, many of whom have been turned into homeworkers overnight,” he added.

And, as such, are currently having to make the best of the situation, with a quarter (25%) stating that they are having to rely on personal laptops and desktops to get their work done, while 16% are working on devices their company has procured for them since the outbreak began.

On top of this, more than half of those working on personal devices (58%) said they are having to store business information on them as a result, which could potentially pose a security risk.

To side-step this issue, Atlas Cloud company is supporting some clients in moving away from a “device-led” model of IT by encouraging them to embrace public cloud technologies and virtual desktop offerings, said Watson.

“Businesses should move away from device-led IT and towards server-led IT such as virtual or hosted desktops, where information is stored on on-premise servers or in the cloud,” he said.

"Server-led IT is important for ensuring business security during the switch to home working as it means staff can work safely on any device and it takes the control of business information out of the hands of individual employees working on individual devices, where the information is more vulnerable, and gives control back to the businesses which retain ownership of all their business information in the cloud.”

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