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Closing the IT-Employee Gap for Remote Work Success

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There’s a glaring disconnect between the perception employees and IT teams have regarding remote employee experience, according to a new report. The report by 1E, titled, 2021: Assessing IT’s readiness for the year of flexible working, reveals that this gap is holding organizations back from embracing a long-term digital workplace – an area that needs immediate attention for remote work success.

The study explained that the physical separation of employees from IT support has compounded existing communication and perception barriers. The survey found IT overwhelmingly lacks knowledge of the remote employee experience, with respondents overestimating employee satisfaction and underestimating IT-induced downtime and disruption, Sumir Karayi, CEO and founder of 1E told CXOToday.

For example, IT managers believe end users are satisfied with the service desk experience, yet only 44% of remote employees are completely satisfied. Additionally, more than one third (36%) of employees are experiencing more IT issues than ever since working from home, indicating an increase in digital disruption.

“The onus is on organizations to invest in and provide anywhere-based employees with a first-class digital experience, comparable to an in-office experience,” said Karayi, pointing that “Employees will only flourish in a remote-first setting with the proper devices, technology, automation and real-time support that promote minimal disruption.”

Further pointing to discrepancies in perception, he said, 76% of IT reported it is easy to diagnose performance issues without disrupting the employee, yet 69% of employees stated they feel disrupted when IT is resolving their issues, highlighting the need for real-time remediation and self-service capabilities.

Making matters worse, there’s an acute lack of communication between IT and employees, which should concern IT organizations because 75% are planning to move from service-level agreements to experience-level agreements to better measure and report on employee satisfaction. Only 50% of service desks ask employees for feedback after the fact and 64% of IT organizations do not routinely ask employees about their IT experience, leaving frustrations unearthed and unaddressed.

However, IT workers are aware of the disconnect, with 93% stating they believe leadership needs to listen to employees about their challenges when working remotely, the report said.

Elevating Employee Needs

It’s no surprise that tech trends and vendor agendas play a pivotal role in how IT aligns their roadmap, but the survey revealed just how dominant these factors are in comparison to employee needs. Seventy-three percent of IT respondents specified that tech trends are the main driving factor for their roadmap, while only 53% are driven by internal department needs. Furthermore, 55% of IT managers stated their roadmap is completely defined by Microsoft updates policies and technologies, overlooking employee needs entirely. This is especially problematic because 30% of employees expressed concern that IT organizations lack all the necessary tools to support a remote workforce.

“While 2021 presents a real opportunity for IT organizations to drive change that will positively impact the lives of knowledge workers, actually doing so will require greater transparency and dialogue between IT and employees,” said Karayi.

“To achieve this, IT must strike a better balance between vendor agendas and employee needs. The lack of focus on, or even knowledge of, employee priorities will ultimately prove detrimental to the overall success of the business, especially considering the level of employee dissatisfaction,” he said.

Endpoint Visibility Gaps

More endpoints are operating outside the network perimeter than ever before, creating blind spots and further adding to the IT-employee disconnect. The research reveals, over half (63%) of IT organizations have less than 90% visibility of remote endpoints, which makes it more challenging for IT to see, manage and remediate endpoint issues. In fact, 75% of IT respondents stated it can take hours or even days to retrieve information from endpoints.

This has been detrimentally disruptive to employees, believes Karayi. While IT estimated employees are disrupted for an average of 52 minutes when they encounter a problem, 74% of employees state it takes hours, days or even weeks for resolution, negatively impacting their productivity.

High Security Stakes

The visibility gap also impacts IT’s ability to keep endpoints secure, patched and compliant, especially concerning because the importance of security and cyber resiliency is lost on remote employees. Seventy-three percent of employees said they are unconcerned their devices could be hacked by cyber criminals while working remotely, yet IT believes the stakes are higher than ever —  74% are concerned about their ability to respond to security threats when employees are remote.

Priorities of employees and IT are staggeringly misaligned, especially as it relates to security. 53% of IT managers claimed they spent most of their time working on securing the remote workforce, but on the other hand, security is not within the top three priorities that employees listed for IT organizations. Rather, top employee concerns included preventing IT issues altogether and the speed with which issues are resolved.

“With over 8 out of 10 organizations planning for long-term remote working, IT must reconnect with employees to truly deliver a first-class digital experience. Improved communication and ongoing feedback gathering are necessary for IT to better understand and ultimately address the needs of remote employees.

That said, IT and employees are already aligned on the importance of endpoint experience. IT still needs to address performance and other issues as the employee experiences them, in real-time, so employees can remain productive and engaged,” summed up Karayi.

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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at CXOToday, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at sohini.bagchi@trivone.com