Today's office is paperless - tomorrow's won't have walls
If the ability to work outside the office reaches parity with traditional desktop working, will we need bricks and mortar offices in the future? As workforce connectivity and flexibility become more important and desirable than physical proximity, here we look at practical tips for future-proofing the workforce with flexible working strategies.
Mobility is an inextricable part of the way that enterprises operate in the 21st century. According to Forrester’s 2012 Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, 29 per cent of the global workforce is now comprised of “anytime, anywhere information workers” using three or more devices. In 2013 RSA found that two thirds of UK workers who have already tried flexible working feel it has enhanced their job satisfaction. Combine these insights and it becomes clear that mobility is also a crucial part of the way employees want to operate in the 21st century. The proliferation of smartphones is creating an increasing consumer appetite for smarter, more flexible ways of working, which, for organisations agile enough to respond, can mean improved employee engagement, productivity, innovation and efficiency. For organisations yet to deploy a flexible working strategy the task of replacing the traditional desktop computing model, while simultaneously managing the threat of sensitive mobile data ranging far beyond the corporate firewall, can make it difficult to know where to begin.
1. Establishing a flexible infrastructure
Organisations are increasingly operating on a global scale, forcing HR, operations and IT departments to quickly meet the need for remote and serviced office spaces, not to mention simple and seamless workforce connectivity. As employees spread out across multiple locations it becomes vital for companies to embrace a culture of complete contactability to remain competitive. At the same time, this needs to be implemented in a way that ensures corporate data is protected when exposed to unsecured environments, while adding neither complexity nor cost to the business.
By building enterprise systems which supply fixed and mobile connectivity, cloud-based platforms, and advanced collaboration tools, mobile devices can be successfully integrated and enabled for corporate use. Which means companies can benefit from better connected employees, while facilitating real-time cloud collaboration and knowledge-sharing without the need for physical proximity.
2. Redefining human capital measurement
Flexible working relies on transparency between the employee and the enterprise. This can only be achieved by establishing a solid process for employee accountability and evaluation, which in turn hinges on anytime, anywhere connectivity and communication with the workforce.
By harnessing call and video conferencing tools, social and web chats, task management software and project planning tools, organisations can ensure employees remain connected and accountable regardless of location.
3. Understanding the wider benefits
Another factor to consider is that enterprise mobility isn’t just good for the employee; it’s good for the customer. An increasing number of off-the-shelf mobile apps providing Customer Relationship Management solutions, enterprise resource planning and access to real time data, are freeing employees from the office.
By enabling those employees to meet directly with and better understand the people who ultimately make up the lifeblood of their business, enterprises can facilitate better customer engagement.
4. Creating a wherever, whenever, however workforce
By enabling employees to work from anywhere, in or out of the office, businesses can save on property and fixed desk costs. And by making the most of technology such as audio and videoconferencing, instant messenger and mobile internet, businesses can build a sense of community for employees, while facilitating effective communication and collaboration. As mobility becomes an increasingly important part of how the modern enterprise operates the physical location of an office becomes less so.
In short, physical proximity is no longer a given in the workplace. Neither is it a necessity. When round the clock, across the globe collaboration and communication is called for, businesses are becoming remarkable at adopting technologies and embracing enterprise systems that allow people to work wherever, whenever and however they need to.