What comes next in remote workforce infrastructure?
In a survey from Upwork, hiring managers predicted that more than 20% of their workforce will be entirely remote in five years — double the pre-pandemic growth rate. Whether that's accurate or not, the thing everyone seems to agree on is that working remotely will be an integral part of business for a long time to come. After a year of experimenting with remote workforce systems and procedures, what comes next? Here are some trends and forecasts to consider.
Cloud computing will grow.
Forrester Research expects the size of the public cloud market to soar 35% to $120 billion in 2021 as companies rely more heavily on cloud solutions. Expect to see companies take advantage of the cloud's easy scalability in adding remote workers and controlling the amount of bandwidth as needed. A heavier reliance on the cloud gives workers the means to work from home, or anywhere, on a more permanent basis, as they strive to get company projects out the door from any location.
Strategic data backup plans will be necessary.
Data that is lost or compromised can wreak havoc on your operations — a situation that grows riskier with a remote workforce. It's incumbent upon IT managers to set up policies for the regular backing up of data and make sure that all remote workers and their devices adhere to them. Cloud-based servers offer data security options that do not rely on large IT teams or multiple physical locations to work – which is partially why cloud computing is growing at such a rapid rate and should be part of strategic backup plans.
HR departments will need to be expanded.
In addition to providing an adequate technical infrastructure for remote workers, companies will also need to deal with a new set of considerations that stem from company headquarters in one state and remote workers in others. Companies must make sure that they comply with state and local taxes, for example. Issues involving payroll, sick leave, vacation time, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation will all be affected by a remote workforce—consuming more time and energy for corporate HR and legal departments and should be planned for accordingly.
Recruiting and retaining talent will be transformed.
Pre-pandemic, employee salaries were decided in part on where a firm was located. But according to Accenture, companies may need to reassess this calculation based on where their employees live, potentially leading to lower salaries and more savings for the firm. A survey from Owl Labs bears this trend out, where "23% of full-time employees are willing to take a pay cut of over 10% in order to work from home at least some of the time." On the flip side, companies will now be able to search for talent from a wider geographic area, scale up faster and put together stellar teams.
Measuring performance will undergo a shift.
Instead of measuring employee performance by the number of hours worked, Corporate Escape Artist says that remote workers should be evaluated by the amount of work completed. CEA also suggests checking out remote employee management tools such as Time Doctor, Timely and TransparentBusiness. Companies should also consider getting rid of the annual performance review and replacing it with more frequent feedback to keep employees on track, define goals, and set performance metrics for remote workers.
There are likely to be unforeseen bumps as American businesses travel down a post-Covid road, but taking these trends into account now may make the journey to a digital work experience smoother.
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