Organisations worldwide are exploring ways to keep employees safe from COVID-19, many encouraging home working until widespread vaccination means people can return to physical workplaces. But in New Zealand, workers are increasingly open to remote work, enabled by communication and collaboration software.
New hybrid working models see workers split their time between the office, home, and other remote locations. Providing employees with greater flexibility in how and where they get work done, research suggests this sets them up for higher productivity. 44% of Kiwis believe they perform better when they have the freedom to shift between in-office and remote working, and 25% when they work remotely.
The role of digital tools in the remote work model
Technology has played a key role in facilitating employee’s ability to work from home during the COVID-19 response and will continue to do so as businesses shift to hybrid work models. The New Zealand government has invested in training initiatives, including for small businesses and senior citizens, to ensure every Kiwi is tech-savvy enough to get involved.
To learn more about this transformation, GetApp surveyed 424 New Zealand employees about their remote working experiences since the pandemic began. The research findings reveal the key role played by digital tools in enabling greater productivity, as well as new insight into how organisations can better support an increasingly hybrid workforce (the full research methodology can be found at the bottom of this article).
Online meeting software is the top tool for employee productivity
The survey revealed that more than a quarter (28%) of employees consider online meeting software, one of the three most important productivity tools they use at work. Collaboration software and document sharing tools both ranked second with 24% each— significantly higher than other tools.
Most employees use personally-provided productivity tools
While kiwis see the benefits of digital solutions, the survey suggests that some employers are failing to provide them with the technology and support they need.
One in three (33%) can get their work done relying solely on company-provided tools. The majority (59%) are using one or more personally-provided technologies to get work done on an occasional or regular basis. Of this group, many use messaging apps to communicate with colleagues, often from their personal phones or tablets.
Businesses need to make sure they are aware of the tools that employees are using, and take proactive steps to manage them. These steps include encouraging employees to use strong passwords and ensuring that all work-issued technology used by employees to connect remotely is running of the latest versions updated with all security patches. Employees using their own devices need to be reminded of their obligations to comply with the relevant bring-your own-device policy and remote-working policy. Employers are also bound by their responsibility to ensure that their employees are complying with the Privacy Act 1993 which lays out the Information Privacy Principles (‘IPPs’)that requires an agency storing personal information to ensure that it is protected by all necessary security safeguards.
Connectivity and tech support standing in the way of employee productivity
Productivity tools have been central to enabling remote work for businesses, but there have been challenges too. In addition to allowing the use of personal technology, some organisations are failing to provide sufficient support. 26% say they have had a lack of training, while a quarter has experienced slow responses from the IT department.
The main challenge faced by most of our sample (45%) concerned the issue of poor internet connectivity and speeds. However, the New Zealand government has been taking steps to improve coverage, particularly in rural areas.
Last year, it was announced that an additional NZ$15 million would be invested into upgrading rural network capacity to help the economy of remote communities recover from the effects of COVID-19. In addition, the ongoing roll-out of 5G should remedy some challenges faced by employees suffering from poor internet connections.
Kiwis confident sufficient cybersecurity in place to support working remotely
With the uptick in technology adoption and digital transformation comes the risk posed by hackers trying to take advantage of this unique situation. Due to the pandemic, businesses of all sizes are more reliant on digital infrastructure than ever before. And many of the technologies they now rely on will have been deployed in an accelerated timeframe, and by staff without the skillsets required to ensure security. These factors, as well as increased use of employee-provided tools, could expose some organisations to risk.
The survey shows a high level of confidence among Kiwis that their employers have sufficient cybersecurity measures in place to protect digital assets. 11 % said that their company could implement additional measures or that their company is at significant risk of a cyber threat. However, 37% believe while sufficient measures are in place, there is still more their company could do to improve cybersecurity.
The research indicates a positive sentiment among kiwi employees that their employers who are adopting technology as a tool to maximise productivity and transition to new ways of working. Moving forward, companies should focus on providing tools and training on how to use them to adjust to an increasingly hybrid workforce.
Productivity and remote workplace study: GetApp NZ Survey methodology
Data for this study was collected in November 2020 from an online survey of 424 respondents that live in New Zealand.
To participate in the survey, respondents had to be:
- Employed full-time or part-time, or self-employed
- Working for a company with at least two people
- Working remotely sometimes or all the time since COVID-19