• Cairo Walker

3 Remote Working Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle on Unsplash

Digital was the answer to business continuity in the times of COVID-19. After hurried technology implementations organisations are now aware of the need to address governance issues ASAP; however, few are moving to do so.

Physical home office environments are an ongoing challenge. Staff don’t have the necessary hardware and software. There is fatigue with endless Zoom calls. Organisations are understandably concerned over employee well-being.


Quick & Rushed Implementations Expose Organisations to Risk

The use of Shadow I.T., and keeping the workplace secure is an on-going concern for organisations. Now there is a tension between expectations from the general public and business partners to stand collaboration solutions up quickly. The proliferation of ‘quick and dirty’ third party solutions such as GoogleDocs has put increasing pressure on I.T. teams.

Security is invisible or considered excessive until there is an issue; then it is not enough. Employees who have had their appetites wetted with new, seamless ways of connecting through MS Teams, Zoom etc. want more of the same, but better.

Resourceful employees have turned to Google search to seek out the names and types of apps available in their MS suite and created a new form of shadow IT. Supporting teams remains mostly in IT, and are unable to keep up with the demands from the business for new, better ways of working.

“Robust cybersecurity has been as challenging as the pandemic.”

Most Humans are Not Equipped for Remote Working

Embracing the work from home culture and dealing with clients is one of the biggest challenges at the moment. Understandably, employee well-being is top of mind.

Innovation and creativity have not thrived in a remote working environment. The lack of creativity has an obvious impact on brands, but it also has a personal one on staff. Self-worth in the workplace is tied closely to finding new, better ways to carry out business. Individuals report lows as a result of a lack of personal innovation.

The lack of serendipitous conversation around how to solve simple problems — how do I make an expense claim? leaves some employees stranded. Employees continue to experience fatigue from endless Zoom meetings which are further exacerbated by the ongoing and widespread internet and bandwidth issues.

People are struggling with the physical equipment — not everyone has what they need at home, a computer that can connect to the VPN and still have enough left over for working and a fast internet connection. Furthermore, these infrastructure costs are largely being passed onto employees.


Better than the Pivot

The term ‘Pivot’ is over-used and now much maligned. The goal is for organisations to successfully navigate their way out of this intense period of the COVID Pandemic. Rather than a pivot or change in direction, brands should consider how to innovate and push the business forward.

Both businesses and employees are waiting to see how things will pan out post-this inital COVID period. 

Failure to move forward will result in staff, customer and business losses over the longer term. For some organisations addressing these issues will require ‘short term pain for long term gain.’

The Risks of Leaving Staff Alone

People who save two or three hours with the removal of the commute between home and office also talk about the fatigue of working from home. Productivity gains are offset by the endless Zoom calls and mental health issues. The ‘shrinking world’ has brought long days for many people. For those people working across the US and UK time zones, meetings begin at 5am and finish at 10pm. Home pressures are amplified and then there’s external politics, and Black Lives Matter. Employers are asking what their role is through Coronavirus and Black Lives Matter.

In an increasingly complex environment, brands are striving to understand where they should draw the line. How should the organisation position itself in relation to COVID-19 or Black Lives Matter? At what point does support for employees become invasive?

Employees feel trapped and largely unsupported and as a result are disengaging rapidly.

Fixing the Job Up

It’s never fun coming back and fixing a job up after it’s been done, but not doing so places the organisation at risk on many sides. The risk of exposure over a cyber security breach or leaking of sensitive corporate information is not the kind of attention any brand wants.

MS Teams has been the rockstar and Zoom the poor cousin. Adoption levels regarding remote working and the associated technologies have been excellent. Zoom and M365 have gained such prominence; it’s impossible to ignore them. Whilst the uptake has been phenomenal, organisations are now nervous about the longer-term implications of this and, rightly so. For most businesses the necessary structures in terms of roles, expertise, information management and on-going support are not in-place. 


Leading from the Top

On the day immediately following Lockdown announcements, executive teams went into the office to distribute physical office equipment to employees in the homes.

The best roll-out of Teams in response to the Lockdown involved senior leaders as exemplars on the platform. More than being a place ‘to get work done’, supporting platforms play and important role in the social fabric of an organisation. One senior manager who took the morning off to take a dog to the vet, sung the praises of Teams. Rather than having to answer many questions over multiple channels, he posted the status once.

Irrespective of digital advancement, the companies that manage to mobilise staff the quickest and with the best result were those with the best company culture.

“The CEO sent a candid message saying he didn’t think it would take a pandemic to get our digital transformation going properly.”

Push Technology to the Front — Teams, Zoom, the Intranet…

Intranets are experiencing a renaissance. Now, more than ever sub-standard intranets are standing out. Although the spotlight in on intranets, few organisations have embarked on any kind of serious upgrade.

“We cut through the objections and the red-tape and carried out 2-years of intranet project in 2-months.”

A level that allows agility, change, and marketing operate effectively:

  • A stable core to support core operations

  • A level that allows agility, change and marketing

Failing to supply and support both core operations and also providing agile solutions results in Shadow IT. Be explicit and plan for both.

Tidy Up Rushed implementations

Focus on governance and long-term sustainability of online tools and channels. We are seeing an increased focus on retro-fitting governance models to technology that is now in-play.

Savvy operators are looking at the roles that are required to manage in these new and infinitely more digital ways of working.

For most organisations tidying up these rushed implementations means bringing in external, expert advice. This allows brands to leverage a broad knowledge applied across many organisations to ensure success.

Support Staff through Remote Working

Irrespective of technical readiness, the organisations that quickly assimilated remote working were those with a healthy, thriving company culture. This was the case even when the organisation had little digital advancement. Government regulations notwithstanding, these same companies have offered employees the choice over how they return to the physical office.

C-Suite managers have never experienced so much time on the ground and in a single time zone. Travel restrictions have given people more time behind their desks and to spend with employees and family. Senior managers are spending a lot of time thinking about and planning ways to support and mentor a team that is now largely remote.


NOTE: ABCW conducted one-on-one research with business leaders to identify the top things that were 'keeping them up at night.' This article has been written with the material and insights gained from that research.

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