Key takeaways from Google’s landmark remote work survey
Google recently published an eye-opening report that looked at the impact of remote work on large organizations, a topic the behemoth search engine-cum-tech monolith is well suited to explore. After all, according to the company, at least 30 percent of all meetings held between employees involve at least two time zones. That makes sense when you consider that 2 in 5 work groups at Google are spread across more than one location, and the company employs roughly 100,000 workers across more than 150 cities in more than 50 countries.
With perhaps one of the most distributed enterprise networks on the planet, Google found that distributing it’s teams and embracing remote offices proved to actually be an asset, not a deterrent. For starters, the research found that there was virtually no difference in the effectiveness, performance ratings or promotions for individuals and teams who either collaborate from remote offices (48 percent of staff) or the same location.
This dovetails with other recent research around the remote office, which shows that thanks to a geography no longer being a major barrier to recruiting talent, teams don’t have to settle for local workers in favor of a better suited individual who may be located elsewhere.
The report did find, however, that there are challenges that come about with remote work, specifically where tech is related. In a blog post on the topic, Google’s People Analytics Manager Veronica Gilrane noted:
Coordinating schedules across time zones and booking a conference room for a video chat takes more logistical brain power than dropping by a coworkers desk for a meeting over coffee. The technology itself can also be limiting— glitchy video or faulty sound makes impromptu conversations that help teammates get to know, and trust each other, seem like more trouble than they’re worth.
Veronica Gilrane, People Analytic Manager at Google
This gets at the root of most apprehensions regarding remote work: If the enterprise network that supports the technology that makes collaboration possible isn’t effective, any of the perceived value of a remote workforce can diminish significantly.
Challenges related to collaboration tools and UCaaS products can escalate quickly if teams aren’t leveraging monitoring solutions that can deliver lightweight, active and passive visibility into the state of the network at any given time. And when solutions focus on performance from the end-user perspective, they can help ensure that even casual, off-the-cuff collaboration between disparate teams can be accomplished with the same speed and efficiency as teams that share an office.
To effectively shore-up an enterprise network to handle an increase in remote work, teams need to:
- Conduct a baseline assessment to gauge the overall health of the network from the start to support communications tools. This should include a comprehensive summary of all network paths that deliver UCaaS services.
- Assess performance-specific network metrics, such as bandwidth, that the carrier is actually providing, as well as total network capacity and how much is spent on business-critical applications.
- Identify if new UCaaS solutions will mesh well with the other demands of the network.
- Test how network usage affects performance to see if utilization nearing total capacity impedes normal business behavior.
- Establish baseline requirements based on findings that remote workers can adhere to in order to succeed.
These findings from Google dovetail with many of the insights we gleaned in our 2019 State of Enterprise IT Report, where a lack of IT at the remote office was the biggest hindrance to network visibility for more than 17 percent of respondents. IT doesn’t necessarily need to have a physical presence at each location to effectively serve each user. Rather, they need tools that can function as their eyes and ears at each location regardless of geographic proximity.