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Quarter of remote workers fail to engage with tech teams

Research reveals a burgeoning IT-employee divide among the growing ranks of remote workers, but the root causes have yet to be examined fully

With remote working now an established reality, research from NetMotion has found that IT teams lack complete visibility into the activity of significant portions of their remote workers, who would prefer to suffer in silence than reach out to their firms’ technical departments.

NetMotion, a provider of connectivity and productivity systems, warned that it was clear from its survey that IT’s inability to diagnose all root causes and negative perception among some employees – due in part to unsatisfactory remediation of problems – was a huge part of what it said was a burgeoning IT-employee divide. And although this growing divide seems well documented, the root causes have not.

In establishing its view of the new normal and to better understand the origins of this disconnect, NetMotion surveyed 500 IT professionals and 500 employees in the US and the UK. It questioned IT professionals spanning roles that included manager, director and C-suite. All the employees who took part in the survey were enterprise workers functioning in remote roles because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Putting the “new normal” into context, the survey quoted Gartner research that showed nearly half of all organisations (47%) will continue to embrace a fully remote workforce post-pandemic. Yet in the survey, a quarter of workers reported that their IT team does not value their feedback and one-sixth of organisations were not monitoring the remote worker experience at all, which meant IT would have zero visibility into the activity of about 24 million remote workers.

Worse still, as many as two-thirds of remote workers said they had encountered an IT issue during lockdown and just under three-fifths (58%) of all remote workers who encountered IT issues did not tell the IT team about them.

While noting that IT departments can reasonably argue that there is nothing more important to maintaining an optimal remote worker experience than for IT to have complete visibility and control into employee activities, NetMotion warned that the research pointed out that IT cannot fix what it can’t see.

It asked how IT could be expected to remediate important issues – whether related to the network, the device, the operating system or even security – if they have no way to ascertain either the issue or its root cause.

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NetMotion added that although, on the surface, 18% of organisations lacking visibility into their remote workers may not sound like a big deal, the numbers paint a different picture. It is estimated that in the US and the UK combined, there are more than 185 million white-collar workers, and nearly 70% of them are working remotely in 2020.

Based on this breakdown, NetMotion said IT would have zero visibility into the activity of roughly 24 million remote workers, which almost equates in size to the entire 29 million-strong UK white-collar workforce.

Even among the 82% of businesses that were monitoring remote employees to some extent, the survey found that IT could not diagnose the root cause of a technical remote work issue 27% of the time. While there was plenty of evidence to support the view that IT was doing reasonably well at mitigating remote issues, especially in the circumstances, this result suggested there was plenty of room for improvement.

The question, NetMotion concluded, was that it becomes a matter of how to alleviate such constraints when knowing that remote work may be temporary for some, but will remain permanent for many others. 

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