IT admin struggles with remote work challenges

IT teams report a significant increase in challenges surrounding migrating and managing remote workforces, despite lower security concerns and adequate budget.

JumpCloud has published the findings from its Q4 Biannual 2021 State of the SME IT Admin Report. The report provides updated survey results to its biannual State of the SME IT Admin Report released in June 2021. Nearly two years into the pandemic, IT admins report they’re considered an important voice in company operations and fewer are feeling overwhelmed despite facing continued complexity in managing hybrid-remote work models. The report details the ongoing impact of COVID-19, expectations about IT budgets, growing confidence in securing hybrid-remote work, and overall satisfaction within the IT organization. The JumpCloud report represents more than 1,000 IT decision-makers from small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) across a variety of industries.

The results of the JumpCloud Q4 Biannual 2021 State of the SME IT Admin Report are available in JumpCloud’s white paper, “Creating a New Normal for SME IT in 2022,” which can be downloaded for free here. Part of the larger JumpCloud mission is to arm IT admins with all the necessary resources for building and managing hybrid-remote workplaces. This report is part of JumpCloud’s new resource library to help IT admins plan for 2022, ramp and expand their capabilities and teams, and even address stress and mental health. Those tools and resources are available in the IT Admin Toolkit for 2022.

“While millions of organizations have transitioned to hybrid-remote work, these results highlight that IT admins continue to look for ways to improve the employee experience and make workflows simple and secure,” said Tom Bridge, principal product manager at JumpCloud. “The need for layered security and a centralized, simple employee experience is a top priority for organizations, and JumpCloud is committed to empowering IT teams to meet the evolving challenges in hybrid-remote work.”

Key findings include:

IT Budget and Priorities

• Security priorities are geared toward ongoing remote-hybrid work: The top three security priorities are adding layered security for truly secure remote work, making remote work easier for end users, and making remote work easier for admins.

• IT admins continue to seek a premium user experience: Making remote work easier for end users was a higher priority than making it easy for admins, and 88% agree or strongly agree that employee experience is an important factor in purchasing decisions. 54% agree that the remote or hybrid experience is not as easy or convenient as it could be.

• Employees are getting better at following best security practices: In May, 74% said remote work makes it harder for employees to follow good security practices (50% agree; 24% strongly agree). Now, only 59% agree (44.3% agree; 14.2% strongly agree).

• Managing remote workers remains the biggest challenge: Managing remote workers is the biggest challenge IT admins faced over the past year, now at 57%, up from 53% in May, and more employees are now working remote (32% now vs. 23% in May).

• Managing devices a growing challenge: Only 46% reported device management as a challenge in May, but the number has increased to 54%.

• Budgets increasing: 75% report an increase in their IT budget over the last year.

• There’s room for improvement: More than half think hybrid-remote should be easier (41.6% agree; 10.5% strongly agree).

Security Concerns

• SMEs are committed to educating employees about security: 82% agree their company regularly communicates best security practices with employees.

• Fewer IT admins think they’re wasting money on remote work: 30% report their organization is spending too much to enable remote work, down from 56% in May.

• Top security concerns have evolved: The top three concerns are software security exploits (37%, a 2% decrease since May), ransomware (35%, a 7% increase since May), and use of unsecured networks (33%, a 4% decrease since May). In May, IT admins' top three concerns were software vulnerabilities (39%), employees using the same username and password across apps (37%), and using an unsecured network (36%).

The Critical Role of Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

• IT admins continue to see MSPs as vital partners: Now 87% of respondents said they have already or plan to engage an MSP (up from 84% in May).

• MSPs are central to operations: 77% report that using an MSP has resulted in better security and 57% report an increase in a better employee experience.

• MSPs seen to offer a wide range of benefits: Respondents report using MSPs because they are up to date on the latest technologies (63%), they can provide a better user experience (60%), they are cost-effective (54%), they can secure users’ access and identity better (47%), and they offer strong customer support (32%).

The Life of the IT Admin

• They’re not quite as happy: 42% of IT admins report being happier in their job than they were a year ago, but this is a significant decrease from the 59% that said they were happier in the job when asked the same question in May.

• Compensation may not be scaling with increased stress and responsibilities: Since the start of the pandemic, 43% report their salaries have stayed the same, and 37% report seeing an increase. For those that saw an increase, most (15%) received a raise of only 5% or less. 24% reported a salary increase of more than 5%, compared to 30% in May.

• Fewer are overwhelmed: 55% report feeling overwhelmed in terms of job expectations and responsibilities, compared to 66% reporting so in May.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, a time to encourage deeper conversations and to explore initiatives that can support employees. The stigma surrounding mental health has been lessened thanks to open discussions, however, there is still progress to be made. Furthermore, these discussions need to be taking place in the professional spheres as according to a 2022 report, a staggering 61% of employees have never sought support for their mental health - despite one in five reporting that poor mental health impacts their productivity. We spoke to nine different technology leaders about their best advice and strategies going forward on how to prioritise wellbeing among employees and employers alike.
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