By Paddy Srinivasan, above, Chief Product & Technology Officer at GoTo
With the boom in flexible work across industries, swathes of employees have been afforded new, dynamic opportunities to decide when and where they work. Taking charge of work patterns in this way has empowered many individuals, with 78% viewing hybrid/remote work as having a positive impact on productivity, but it also presents a fresh set of challenges for leaders managing splintered workforces.
76% of respondents from GoTo’s survey found that the workload of IT workers has increased due to the adoption of flexible work models, with 43% agreeing that IT jobs have become more difficult. Businesses have gone remote, the workforce has scattered and BYOD (bring your own device) has become more prevalent, making the consolidation of IT infrastructure and stronger security a much more complex predicament to solve. From incompatible software to duplicated services, many businesses are struggling to formulate a cohesive structure for their technology stack.
Leaders now need to ensure that employees across various locations can stay connected. There is now more technology to support, manage, and secure, which means a greater onus on leaders to keep IT healthy 24/7. The pressure for technology to run seamlessly in the background is felt keenly by those at the top.
How do the hidden costs of poor IT and downtime impact businesses?
Any downtime in systems can directly impact the company’s ability to do business and hurts the bottom line. In the current culture of working from home, without an IT admin around the corner to troubleshoot problems or offer a helping hand, lost hours of work can be hugely detrimental.
The hidden costs of downtime are compounded by the fact that IT departments are facing renewed job stresses. A new report from GoTo shows that IT department workloads increased 72% in 2021 versus 2020, with the main reasons being more challenges related to flexible working (49%), more tasks to perform (44%), increased pressure (41%), and software underperforming/wrong tools (31%). This means there are now reduced internal capacities to find quick fix solutions to problems, and this can make poor IT even more of a ticking time bomb.
While it’s difficult to put a definitive cost figure on the number of hours lost to downtime, it’s fair to say that the past two years have been problematic. Teams need to be online to work. In decentralised office environments people can’t chat face-to-face or meet without technology. For the modern employee, technology is what keeps the work going and when downtime hits it can effectively switch productivity levels to zero across the board. For this reason, getting IT management right and enabling them with the right tools is more important than ever.
Is the tech skills shortage having a negative impact on efficiency?
The tech skills shortage is a real cause for concern as it means businesses now have less resources to recover from tech issues. As we found in our research, the workload for IT teams has increased and become more difficult.
Small and medium-sized businesses, which account for around 60 per cent of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector according to the FSB, are short-staffed, without dedicated teams of IT admins and enterprise-level budgets to handle proper tech management. These businesses need technology now that is easy to manage, easy to deploy and affordable. In the 2022 hybrid landscape, simplification and consolidation need to be the watchwords for leaders, to improve efficiency and make the lives of employees that bit easier.
To help share the burden of IT management, companies can outsource some of the work to tech vendors. Solutions providers that prioritize security, reliability and ease-of-use will be better equipped to maintain tools and facilitate work continuity. The right solutions can ensure that customers and remote employees on-the-move remain securely connected leaving in-house IT teams to solve issues fast and without frustration, to get customers and employees back to doing what matters.
What does ideal IT usage in SMEs look like?
Technology should help not hinder. If it feels seamless and almost invisible, it’s probably the right tech stack. Maintenance becomes an easy ask and teams can stay connected and focus on higher value tasks. A key feature of this tech stack is the ability to provide excellent remote support when everything doesn’t go as planned. With remote support, employees can reach out to a network of human agents for immediate assistance.
The ability to support your organisation is made even easier by working with products that blend into existing work flows. For example, integrations with communication tools like Slack makes the task of raising a ticket and talking to an agent that much quicker because you don’t have to bounce between messaging and email to solve issues. For those small and medium-sized companies that can’t afford big IT budgets, remote IT support can provide a great cost-effective solution to IT management.
With IT usage optimised, businesses can get back to the work that matters, without encountering long and drawn-out frustrations from technology not working properly. We know that, as companies pivoted to remote work models practically overnight when COVID-19 restrictions were enacted, massive IT overhaul was progressed at a lightning-fast speed. Teams needed technology to support working outside centralised office spaces, and with the rush to digitally transform, decades of change happened in the space of days and weeks. But now we have a chance to simplify and consolidate solutions and ensure that technology works for us – and when this happens, productivity spikes and businesses can enjoy new successes in terms of efficiency from improved collaboration.