Technology – the emerging work benefit for today’s flexible employee

remote working

HR must consider providing technology and offer better IT support for workers who choose to work remotely. Investments must be made in newer technologies for remote workers in order to limit frustrations and provide seamless working conditions that emulate the office, writes Pia Rueda, Head of HR – ANZ, Lenovo

2020 is the year of many things – for the office, it’s become the year of the flexible worker. Originally an option rarely taken up by employees, flexible working has since become a necessary experiment, and now the preferred style of working for many.

Even as much of Australia begins to slowly move back into the office, with many states now opening up, there is consensus that remote working is here to stay. A recent survey estimated that remote work is set to remain 69 per cent higher post-COVID in New South Wales, with NSW workers indicating they “want the best of both worlds”.

Understanding the real anxieties of today’s flexible worker
For human resources practitioners, the split of workers being at home versus the office may be tricky to manage, especially as many workers grapple with integrating home office functions. Research from Lenovo has found that in just May to July this year, Australians have spent an entire $2.3 billion of their own money on technology, so they can do their jobs normally while working remotely.

COVID-19 has permanently changed the office dynamic, HR must compel decision makers to invest in technology in order to lessen the financial and mental strain on those employees who make their living from the home office.

Even going past this eye-watering figure, HR must also keep in mind the general anxieties felt by Australians while working from home. Among the 85 per cent of Australians who worry while working remotely, most common for office workers is persisting technology challenges at 42 per cent, followed by maintaining relationships with colleagues (38 per cent) and then issues around job insecurity (33 per cent) rounding out the top three.

When we deep dive into these persisting tech issues, we find the usual suspects. More than a third claim that internet connection issues is the main problem they have when working from home. An inability to contact I.T. when needed came in second at 31 per cent and difficulties connecting to office networks followed closely behind at 28 per cent.

Contrary to popular belief, millennial workers are far more likely to report having technology challenges than their Baby Boomers colleagues – with 86 per cent of Millennials having tech issues versus 63 per cent of Baby Boomers. In addition, younger Australians are more likely to seek tech support from other colleagues versus actual IT teams – coming in at 91 per cent against 65 per cent of Baby Boomers who would ask a teammate to help.

Alleviating the financial and tech pressures of flexible working
Although these figures perhaps aren’t surprising, they are concerning. Lenovo’s survey found that Australians working from home spent, on average, $1,138 each just to do their jobs. This financial strain coupled with persistent technology issues results in unhappy and stressed employees. We in the HR community need to remedy this, especially as the working from home trend is set to continue.

The fact of the matter is that remote working must go hand-in-hand with technology support. Those in HR and leadership need to ensure their staff can access the right technology and support to truly maximise the productivity benefits of flexible working.

HR must consider providing technology and offer better IT support for workers who choose to work remotely. Investments must be made in newer technologies for remote workers in order to limit frustrations and provide seamless working conditions that emulate the office.

Look to invest in more up-to-date devices like laptops and mobile phones, as well as Wi-Fi dongles if an employee states that they have regular Internet issues, or if their household has many people working from home at once. For those who have spent their own money in upgrading their equipment, offer to reimburse where appropriate.

When providing newer and better technology, couple this with up-to-date training so your workers can use it immediately and without hassle. Close to half of those surveyed stated that training on new technologies and how to use these effectively can help them with their jobs going forward.

When there are technology issues, look to provide quick and personal support, from not only from the IT team but from human resources themselves. The job for IT has become much more complex and more strained in recent months and if HR can support, this would help rectify many tech issues which are often quite easy to solve.

The fact of the matter is that remote working must go hand-in-hand with technology support. Those in HR and leadership need to ensure their staff can access the right technology and support to truly maximise the productivity benefits of flexible working.

With Australian workplaces likely to remain split between the office and home, it is imperative for human resources and IT to team up to ensure a seamless experience for those working from home. COVID-19 has permanently changed the office dynamic, HR must compel decision makers to invest in technology in order to lessen the financial and mental strain on those employees who make their living from the home office.

Key takeaways –

  • Flexible working is now the norm and HR needs to support those working from home.
  • Australians have spent $2.3 billion of their own money on technology in the last three months alone.
  • HR must consider offering IT hardware and support for remote office workers
  • This will reduce financial anxiety and improve productivity and staff happiness.

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