What is a remote workforce?
Remote working is a mode of work that allows employees to perform all their essential job responsibilities from outside traditional office space. By working from home offices, these out-of-office employees make up a remote workforce for that organization. A key principle of a remote workforce is that work is what you do, not where you do it. This means that remote workers should be able to be productive and accomplish all their daily work outside an organization’s office space.
To ensure employee engagement for a remote workforce, organizations need to provide technology like video conferencing that ensures a strong employee experience and company culture inside and outside the office.
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A remote workforce offers many benefits for both businesses and employees.
Benefits of a remote workforce for businesses include:
- More productivity: Remote workers demonstrate higher employee engagement by going above and beyond on their work in comparison to employees working in traditional office space. This may be because remote employees do not have to expend energy on a daily commute, take fewer sick days and have better control over their work environment inside a home office.
- Cost savings: Because remote employees work from home offices, organizations also benefit from remote work through reduced overhead spending and less need for desk space. Some businesses have gone as far as eliminating their office space altogether, choosing to have an entirely remote workforce.
- Better retention: For companies who want to hire and retain the best possible talent, offering remote work flexibility is a proven way to hold onto top employees.
- Business continuity: Having a remote workforce in place protects an organization from business continuity disruptions. If offices are forced to close from a natural disaster or planned outage, remote workers can continue to be productive without interruption.
- Improved sustainability: Enabling remote work improves sustainability and reduces a company’s carbon footprint by eliminating daily commutes and lowering the electricity costs associated with on-premises data centers.
Benefits of remote work for employees include:
- More flexibility: Remote employees have more choice over where and when they get work done compared to workers in a traditional office space. This flexibility means remote employees can better accomplish household tasks like doing laundry or taking children to school without neglecting their work. The ability to define their own work environment also means remote employees can better control environmental distractions to improve focus and employee engagement.
- Better health outcomes: Remote working is a popular way for employees to achieve better work-life balance. Employees who work remotely report less stress and higher morale than in-office workers, and also take fewer sick days.
- Cost and time savings: Without commutes, remote employees can devote more time to work. Even employees who only work remotely half the time can save thousands of dollars a year that would otherwise be spent on travel, parking, and meals outside the office.
Technology is essential to remote work. For a remote workforce to be effective, the employee experience outside the office needs to be functionally identical to inside. This means remote employees must be able to access in real time the files, software, and technology they need to be productive no matter where they work.
Technologies used for remote work include video conferencing, content collaboration platforms, and virtualization. However, relying on different point solutions for all these tools can lead to technology sprawl that overloads IT and detracts from the strong employee experience that remote workers need to be effective. With this in mind, the best path to empowering remote workers is a secure digital workspace experience that brings all the tools and data that a remote workforce needs into one platform.
Organizations with a remote workforce face technological and business risks, but these challenges can be mitigated with the right approach.
First, organizations need to ensure their data and applications are secure when accessed remotely—without limiting access to employees who need it. Because remote employees want to access company resources and data on personal devices and public internet, it can be challenging to secure these devices to protect sensitive data. These remote work security risks can be mitigated by securing access and using encryption to protect data on public networks.
Second, there's the issue of managing a remote workforce. Managers who aren’t experienced with remote teams can find it difficult to manage workers who aren’t in the same building. These managers may worry remote workers will neglect their responsibilities or fail to get work done outside the company’s office space. It can also be a challenge to fully integrate remote employees on a cultural level to ensure they feel like and act like team members rather than siloed workers.
The best way to mitigate these management risks is to ensure remote workers are accessible and connected to the rest of the team. Video conferencing check-ins with them can work similarly to face-to-face meetings with in-office employees. It’s also important to share expectations about how remote employees communicate and collaborate with coworkers to ensure the remote workforce knows how to work well with the rest of the team.
Under a remote work model, employees need to have secure, reliable access to apps and data—from any location and device. From desktop as a service (DaaS) to secure access and application delivery, Citrix provides a full range of solutions that empower organizations to successfully support this anywhere, anytime work.