Enterprises were ill-equipped to support remote workers as the world shifted from office-based to anywhere-based work, according to a survey conducted by independent research agency Vanson Bourne with endpoint management solutions provider 1E.
With some 46 million people moving to working from home fulltime during the Covid-19 pandemic, the survey illustrated that device performance outside of the office is a major issue, impacting productivity and the overall employee experience. In a recent interview, 1E founder and CEO Sumir Karayi discussed employee expectations and how organizations can provide a first-class “work from anywhere” experience.
Q: How did IT respond to the work from anywhere challenge, and what more do they need to do to support employees?
The good news is that although the pandemic tested IT to the limits in terms of their capabilities, IT responded admirably, as most organizations moved to an absolute remote-first strategy almost overnight. A massive shift of some 60% of knowledge workers moved to remote-first work and employees really appreciated the hard work of IT in making that possible.
What the research shows us, though, is that employees in the longer term are going to struggle in working remotely because they are having a second-class experience versus working in the office. Their machines run slower, and yet 98% of them told us that machine speed performance is important because their entire business working life is represented through their laptop. When they have to call the service desk, it can take hours, days, and weeks to get fixed. I think IT and businesses need to be cognizant that employee empathy for IT gets eroded, day by day, when machines are running slow and when there are problems that don’t get fixed for days, sometimes even weeks. The survey tells us that IT needs to become significantly more employee centric.
Q: How should IT go about doing that?
While most IT teams are working incredibly hard to support this new era, working harder is not going to be enough. IT also needs tools that support employees working anywhere. They need visibility into the problem that the employee has, and an ability to measure as close as possible the employee’s experience. The way to do that is to synthetically simulate what the employees are experiencing. So that means the technology, unobtrusively, tries to perform things that are similar to what the employee would do, such as open a browser, run applications, save data, open and close files, and so on, to show whether the machine is responsive to that employee.
Synthetic transaction technologies have been around for a really long time, but almost all operate at the back-end servers sitting in data centers where there is lots of bandwidth, lots of power, and so on. Our synthetic transaction technology works at the endpoint, running those things in the background for a very short period of time (like 200 milliseconds) so the employee doesn’t notice that we’re doing it. Also, it’s lightweight so the measurement does not itself slow down the machine, and it can also work over slow networks.
Q: How do you quantify the business benefits of delivering a great experience to employees?
The primary benefit is really efficiency and effectiveness. A laptop that is slow or has some other problem is going to affect the employee’s ability to work – and engagement with the entire organization is affected. So it’s a really simple, hard measure of outcomes: if they can’t write that document, or produce that piece of software code in the time it normally would take, the business is going to suffer.
In terms of metrics to measure employee experience, the biggest change we’re seeing in enterprises is the shift to experience-level agreements (XLAs). It’s a natural consequence of being more employee-focused and ensuring that IT are providing a great employee experience wherever the employee may be working. And it makes complete sense because their digital experiences play a huge part in
determining if they want to continue working for this organization, and would they recommend the organization to others.
Q: What aspects of technology are really doing well or are disappointing the WFA employee – or the IT teams trying to support them?
The lack of investment and understanding of automation is disappointing given that both employees and IT want IT to be more responsive and act faster. In our survey, the second major finding was that three-quarters of employees experience repeat IT issues, which means IT must be fixing the same problem 500 times a day. That’s because, in most organizations today, manual fixes are business as usual rather than a last resort.
At 1E, we’re focused on making knowledge sharing and automation integral to IT operations. We take the knowledge about a fix and either enable it to be shared across the IT organization so every issue is resolved in the same way, or automate the fix so that it never happens again. That automation can be extended to the employees too to enable self-service resolution. We have a unifying portal that connects to all the main players, including Microsoft and ServiceNow.
Q: What did you learn about your own organization during this period?
I was just amazed at how resilient our workforce has been. They’re making very logical and informed choices, which enables us to work with them much more effectively than I ever imagined. I’m also amazed at how calm and how supportive our entire business is. Many other CEOs have said the same to me – that as long as you are communicating, it’s all good. It has certainly increased my belief that we’ll get through this pandemic better than I ever expected.
For more information, visit the Work from Anywhere Virtual Conference.
Sumir Karayi founded 1E in 1997 with the goal of driving down the cost of IT for organizations of all sizes by identifying and eliminating IT waste. Since then, he has expanded the business to focus on ensuring IT provides employees with great experiences through 1E’s endpoint management technology, Tachyon.