The ubiquity and availability of mobile technology and Internet connections have changed the business world. Customers and clients around the world now have a means for instantaneous connection to the companies with which they do business.
These technologies also open up a world of freedom and flexibility for their employees who can now file reports from their mobile phone while commuting to work, analyze figures while they’re out at lunch, review performance while they’re at the doctor’s office, and prepare presentations after they tuck their children into bed at night. This has led to the formation of the always-on workforce, which can be a productivity dream for companies and a nightmare for their IT staff.
Studies have shown that employees that have the freedom to work remotely can actually be significantly more productive and also tend to average more working hours than their desk-confined comrades. Allowing flexible work schedules and locations also has a huge positive effect on employee morale and engagement, leading to more satisfied workers who are in turn even more productive. The argument for remote workers is becoming a more compelling option for a large number of enterprises but these employees need the infrastructure, tools, and support to do their jobs effectively.
Simply arming your workforce with laptops is a relatively simple task but maintaining those devices while allowing access to sensitive data and systems is a much larger challenge to a company’s IT staff. Decision-makers need to make sure that they are setting their organization and their employees up for success with careful planning for policies and infrastructure necessary to support their workers.
The smartphone has reached nearly complete penetration into the business world and companies would be wise to adopt mobile policies and security measures for these devices. Set up a strong wireless network with device management and security software to allow for access on your terms. It is also advantageous to issue company phones by allowing for a range of devices that your IT department can secure and wipe if necessary. This eliminates some of the risks of personal devices not being encrypted or lost phones that may have access to company data.
Another big hurdle for your IT department is securely allowing access to the systems, data, and applications necessary for your employees to be able to do their job. Virtualization of applications can be a solution to this issue that allows your data center do the heavy lifting while all that your employee needs is an internet connection and a laptop. When configured correctly, this can be one of the safest ways to grant access to those who need and keep out everyone else.
An emerging trend in enterprises is to develop mobile applications for their employees. This is increasingly becoming a more attractive proposition as administration can start to securely provide all of the tools necessary while keeping their employees armed with the latest technologies. New tablets loaded with enterprise software can be a solution to keep your always-on workforce connected and productive. Expect to see a lot more businesses taking advantage of this option with the release of Windows 8 and their enterprise app development and management tools.
Giving workers the flexibility to work when and how their comfortable can lead to huge wins for enterprise. We are now reaching the point technologically where it might even start to be more practical too.