Should work be something we do, or somewhere we go? asks Maria Grant, product director of Intercity Telecom. Increasingly, it’s the former, and Grant reveals the key real-world business considerations when implementing UC and remote-working strategies.
In 2014, the UK government gave employees the right to request flexible working to help them balance their jobs with responsibilities at home, keeping more people in long-term employment and enabling companies to retain staff. With over four million people already working from home regularly, there is rising pressure on businesses to enable remote working effectively, safely, and securely.
So is work something we do, or somewhere we go?
While most businesses will retain some sort of base for face-to-face liaison between employees and customers, real-time collaboration is becoming just as easy to achieve out of the office with the right remote-working tools and technologies.
The requirement for remote working is certainly on the rise, whether it be to work from home or on the road. So businesses really do need to consider a unified communications solution to complement their mobility strategy, ensuring that staff can work productively from anywhere and at anytime.
Recent research conducted by UC Expo [run by Imago Techmedia, which also publishes this website] has revealed that two-thirds of businesses are failing to provide the right tools to make flexible working a reality, which sheds light on why the demand for remote working is high, but the uptake is relatively slow.
It’s clear that there’s an urgent need for key stakeholders to gain a much clearer understanding of what technologies the business needs to enable its employees to work remotely, and then find the right partners to help implement them.
This sounds simple, but often there is disconnect between the organisation’s IT strategy and the tools (and the supporting culture) that employees need to be productive – and on top of that UC systems need to be implemented securely. In all, a major task for IT professionals who are more used to implementing and maintaining more traditional on-premise systems!
How can you avoid the disconnect?
A good strategy is based on things we know and can control.
It’s vital that the first thing you do is work through a checklist of the (sometimes) obvious, but often ignored, activities to assess where any grey areas exist within your business. This checklist will help identify any important areas that need urgent improvement, or where there are opportunities for transformation.
Items on your checklist should include:
- Assess the technologies available. This is paramount, but given the time challenges and operational pressure that IT departments are already under, it’s vital that you secure board-level buy-in so that a mobility project will genuinely add value in the long term.
- Get a better understanding of your colleagues’ challenges. The IT investments you make have a daily impact on the working lives of others, but if you don’t understand their roles, how can you be sure that you’re making the right decisions?
- Identify the challenges and dangers in allowing remote working, relevant to your business. Listing the more general security and cost issues will be relatively easy, but what other specific challenges does your business or market face? Unique challenges require unique solutions.
Maria Grant will be speaking about these and other issues at UC EXPO 2015 on Tuesday 21 April at Olympia, between 14:00 and 14:30 in the Flexible Working and Collaboration Theatre.