US remote workers take significant productivity hit through IT disruption

Analysis of remote employee experience and digital workplace post-Covid finds enterprise remote workers have encountered long wait times to address IT and other technical issues

As the world shifts from office-based to anywhere-based, a survey of the US digital workplace and remote employee experience post-Covid from endpoint management tech provider 1E has shown that enterprises were, in the main, ill-equipped to support remote workers.

The survey, conducted by 1E during the pandemic in partnership with independent research agency Vanson Bourne, canvassed employees across eight industries in the US and found that, fundamentally, enterprise IT teams were failing to deliver a positive remote employee experience.

The data revealed in the report, The new digital workplace: employee experiences with universal remote working since Covid, indicated that IT teams, along with over-burdened and ill-equipped service desks, have been struggling to meet the needs of newly remote employees, with IT needing to do more to prepare their organisations – and employees – for a work-from-anywhere enterprise during the coronavirus outbreak.

1E regarded the pandemic as a moment of reckoning for most organisations. Prior to a forced global lockdown, very few employees had any experience of remote working and this pushed organisations into an unprecedented situation, it said. Nearly four-fifths (79%) of employees either had no experience of remote working, could work remotely but never did, or did so one to four times a week – which equates to 54 million remote employees across the US.

However, nine out of 10 (89%) of all the employees surveyed are now working remotely full-time. 1E said that meant that almost the entire workforce has had to learn a completely new way of working – and do it every day.

“Never before have we had this level of insight about the experience employees have with their devices – and IT generally – in the post-Covid world,” said 1E founder and CEO Sumir Karayi. “In the work-from-anywhere enterprise, endpoint management tools are the central nervous system because the endpoint is no longer just a device.

“Endpoints have now become much more personal and integral to the lives of all employees, enabling them to stay connected and work. This research helps businesses understand the new digital employee experience and reimagine the traditional definition of the workplace.”

This “reimagining” during the Covid-19 crisis saw 46 million people move from working in the office full-time to working from home full-time, more or less totally reliant on their laptop for work and communication.

Almost all of the US knowledge workers (98%) surveyed said device performance was critical to their ability to work remotely  but 36 million (53%) reported that their device performed slower outside the office and 37 milllion (48%) flagged it as a top three issue that hindered their productivity and overall employee experience.  

As many as 25 million employees (37%) experienced more issues working remotely, and those issues were taking much longer to resolve, while 49 million employees (72%) reported that it takes days or weeks to get issues fixed. More worryingly, 50 million employees (74%) experienced repeat issues.

Read more about the post-lockdown workplace

But when issues were resolved, 46 million employees (68%) said they were disrupted by the service desk, with only 21 million employees (31%) able to continue their work during the process. Shockingly, said 1E, 18 million employees (26%) said they could not work at all when an issue was being fixed. As a result, 50 million (74%) said they felt less connected than ever to their colleagues.

The research also found other issues for IT to deal with on the journey to a work-from-anywhere enterprise. Most damagingly, security and software provisioning reared their heads. Some 50 million employees (73%) were not concerned about their corporate device being hacked when working remotely, while 24 million (35%) felt they did not have all the software they needed to work from home effectively.

“IT must be able to understand and optimise the employee’s world through the endpoint,” said Karayi. “But what the research shows is that the speed of change has left legacy IT tools ineffective in their management of remote endpoints and the digital employee experience.

“This research proves that legacy tools must be replaced with a new generation of endpoint management solutions designed to cope with the complexities of the work-from-anywhere enterprise, and they need to be real-time, autonomic and scalable.”

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