While the debate over the merits of enabling a much larger percentage of the workforce to work remotely intensifies as the COVID-19 pandemic becomes an aspect of daily life, it appears most organizations are now resigned to the fact that an increasing number of employees will be spending more time outside the office than in.
A survey of 401 IT decision-makers located in the U.S., conducted by Foundry (formerly IDG Communications), unsurprisingly finds 94 percent of organizations shifted to some sort of hybrid work structure due to the pandemic, with nearly three quarters (72 percent) describing that shift as being successful.
MSPs play a significant role in WFH enablement
The impact this transition is having on those organizations continues to reverberate. Close to two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) said the work-from-home shift has forced the creation of new, more efficient workflows and processes, including a need to support a hybrid workforce (65 percent), adoption of new security solutions for remote work (63 percent), maintaining remote workers (53 percent), greater investment in security and risk management (53 percent), maintaining a remote IT workforce (50 percent) and increased investment in technology to improve the customer/employee experience (49 percent).
Managed service providers (MSPs) will naturally play a major role in enabling organizations to achieve those goals, but they should not assume the hybrid work debate is over. The survey notes that organizations are struggling with efficient collaboration (51 percent), morale and burnout (47 percent) and security maintenance (38 percent). A total of 40 percent also noted creating an equitable and collaborative experience for hybrid teams is proving to be a significant challenge.
Remote work creates challenge and opportunity
At the core of those concerns is the sharing of the domain knowledge expertise that enables organizations to not only serve customers better, but also spur innovation. Organizations are finding it especially difficult to onboard new remote employees because they can’t easily acquire the domain knowledge that previously was gained largely by osmosis within the office.
MSPs should at the very least expect to either see more employees at the organizations they support going into the office more frequently. In other cases, remote workers might even be replaced by an employee that can make it into an office. In fact, hundreds of state employees in Virginia just submitted their resignations after Gov. Glenn Youngkin updated the telework policy for all state employees to require a full-time to return to the office.
Most of those employees clearly feel they can get other jobs that will enable them to work from home. Organizations that embrace remote work are no longer limited to hiring employees that can commute to an office within approximately two hours or less. As such, MSPs may find themselves supporting employees of clients that are located halfway around the world.
MSPs should remain flexible as policies change. The challenge, of course, is no two organizations appear to be adopting the same strategy. Some organizations even have different policies in place depending on the department and type of work being done. MSPs in general need to be prepared for customers that are likely to change their existing policies at any moment. The issue is that no one can say yet with any certainty whether an organization will be shifting back toward the office or further away as the challenges and opportunities created by remote work become more apparent.
Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock