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This article was contributed by Yoni Avital, cofounder and COO at ControlUp.

Over the past two years, companies around the globe have continually changed the way they conduct business to meet new needs that will, ultimately, find 60% of us working remotely by 2024. For CEOs, Chief Resource Officers (CHROs), and hiring managers, recruiting and retaining an engaged (remote) workforce has become their primary test. To do that successfully, IT must focus on improving the digital employee experience (DEX) to give those companies a clear hiring advantage, given there are so many benefits to have a productive WFA workforce.

At its core, digital employee experience (DEX) focuses on the ability to identify and eliminate any digital friction — such as poor Wi-Fi signals, hardware failure, or application performance — that impacts employee satisfaction. DEX tools help IT speed onboarding, improve patching velocity, and resolve issues quickly through intelligence-driven experience automation via machine learning. IT leaders will also receive the continuous insights they need to become the leaders in their sector: accelerating time to value of investments and improving employee experience as a full partner to the business.

Though many companies have increased their investment in the digital workplace, Gartner found that the employee experience with technology remains a “black box” for most infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders. In the future, IT will need to optimize remote environments — while at the same time preventing user downtime and resolving issues faster — for groups that are sometimes in, and mainly out of, the office. 

Though Gartner calls the distributed enterprise one of the top 12 strategic technology trends this year, only one in ten organizations have begun communicating and piloting their vision for a hybrid work model. Those who enable it fully will achieve 25% faster revenue growth than peer companies who do not.

Here are three major considerations for  a well-rounded DEX strategy. Companies that move quickly and address each area will experience a significant business advantage.

1. In-person vs. remote work: balancing collaboration and productivity

Almost 75 % of Fortune 500 CEOs say they will need less office space in the future, and according to a forward-looking survey of CPAs, one in five corporate executives say they plan to reduce office space in the coming year. 

But, if having a cool office no longer matters to employees, what does? The flexibility and the freedom to work from anywhere. This has led to a rise in remote worker productivity since the beginning of the pandemic, with 34% of employees feeling more productive now than before the pandemic (at only 28%). The same research also shows that more than half of U.S. executives (52%) said average employee productivity has improved in the same period.

Many would also argue that teams work better when they collaborate in person, so offices will become those dedicated spaces. They’ll also require IT teams to integrate remote workers seamlessly, as well as adjust their strategies to manage both in-person and remote environments successfully.

2. Work-from-anywhere (WFA) is the new perk in the war for talent

IT departments responded heroically when they were tasked with supporting a workforce that was suddenly and completely remote. For a while, it worked. However, being away from the office meant workers were dependent on local access. Tools that did the job perfectly when everyone was in the same office stopped working and employee engagement began to fall.

A survey by noted economists found that 39% of college graduates who quit their jobs during the Great Resignation of 2021 said they did so to increase their ability to work from home. And Harvard Business Review found that 50% of workers say they won’t stay at jobs that don’t offer remote work—making it a key recruiting and retention tool. Remote work has been normalized and it’s essential to provide workers with the right tools to communicate, collaborate, and serve customers.

3.  Hybrid and work-from-anywhere workplaces will continue to put DEX to the test

Thanks to consumer tech, people expect the digital tools they use to simply work. In turn, employees now expect and demand a frictionless digital experience, whether working from home or at the office. The message is clear. It’s essential that companies put DEX front and center to ensure these remote work experiences are simple and reliable, while, ultimately, increasing employee productivity and overall satisfaction.

Happy workers are more productive workers

By 2025, 50% of IT organizations will have a digital employee experience strategy, team, and management tool in place, a major increase from 5% in 2021. IT is already beset by supply chain issues, figuring out the future of work, and fending off cyberattacks. How will a new focus on digital employee experience be a net positive? Eventually, all companies will be digital-first, so now is the time to develop an employee-centric approach to the distributed enterprise. 

Our new work-from-anywhere culture has reminded us that employee satisfaction and happiness are crucial when it comes to productivity and overall growth. Organizations need to set employees up for success by minimizing and streamlining those time-consuming bottlenecks and administrative activities. Getting your company technology infrastructure updated and implemented in a way that works for the new normal is a key to this process. There are only so many hours in the day — make them count.

Yoni Avital is the cofounder and COO of ControlUp.

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