How to make ‘remote working’ work

22 June 2016

5 min read

As remote working becomes an increasingly popular option, can business tech keep up with the demand for mobility?

How to make ‘remote working’ work (Desktop)

It’s a common dilemma. The convenience of working from home vs. the inconvenience of not having access to your office essentials.

Sure you can pick up a phone and have a conversation. And emails are available at all times of the day and night. Skype makes conferences feel like they’re happening in your front room, which is why 28% of people are using their own phones for conference calls. The Chelsea Apps Factory discovered that 7.5 million working days each week are being lost by staff because the workplace tech wasn’t good enough.

But the real problem arises when your laptop is flashing ‘10% critically low’ and you left your charger in the office, 1.5 hours commute away. The rise of mobile and the cloud has triggered a paradigm shift in how we work.

The mobile revolution is well and truly underway. But while people are feeling the benefits of flexible working from home, a client’s office or even a coffee shop down the road, there’s still a way to go before it’s a truly seamless experience. IT downtime for 80% SMBs costs an estimated average of at least $20,000 per hour, with 20% suffering losses of at least $100,000 per hour. Surprisingly, 78% of UK organisations aren’t confident that they could recover from a disruption.

Should we all be working remotely?

Working from home isn’t just a chance for constant snacking and comfortable clothes. It’s transformed workers’ lives in meaningful ways. Parents now have the flexibility to spend more time with their kids, work around the punishing school run, and don’t waste hours each day on the commute.

This flexibility and trust is exactly what resonates with the world’s fastest growing workforce demographic: Millennials. They want to work with forward-thinking businesses, which can offer the flexibility they need for a seamless work/life balance.

While flexibility and remote collaboration are fantastic ideals, many businesses just can’t find the technology they need to make remote working accessible. The real roadblock is finding devices and infrastructure that’s truly built for business. If one in three workers are millennials, then adopting technology that overcomes technical issues associated with remote working is a win/win situation.

The problem with how we work remotely

One of the main issues faced by remote workers is gaining access to technology that enhances their work style.

A recent HP study revealed that 6/10 people prefer using their smart phone to their laptop to complete tasks, despite the fact that 68% of them find it easier to access files from a laptop. A considerable 65% of the same group experienced difficulty transferring content to their phones, showing the disconnect between how people want to work and how their existing tech set up limits them.

A common problem faced by people using smart phones and other mobile devices is that they can’t get access to the full versions of their corporate apps and programs. Sometimes there just isn’t a mobile way of viewing and editing documents the way they were meant to viewed.

Incompatible technology and bulky accessories are productivity killers and make every situation incredibly frustrating. Forgetting a charger or needing to install and update drivers before meetings or the working day can begin is a common problem. Not only does it affect the worker, it also impacts on the time of IT support and the client, whose time is being wasted. Almost 60% of people in the Chelsea Apps survey said that tech issues stopped them doing their jobs properly.

For example, 30% of people connect their smart phones to a projector when possible. But how many of us have been stuck watching someone fumble with wires as they fail to make an incompatible device connect? Sometimes even the most mobile options can’t keep up with the demands of the modern office.

Instead of being truly free and mobile, this kind of every day frustration keeps people splitting their focus between multiple devices. We’ve learned how to use different devices to compensate for the individual failings of each. It’s not an ideal way to work.

How to make remote working productive again

The easiest way to combat these problems is to upgrade to a collaboration-focused operating system such as Windows 10, and use devices which allow for a more seamless approach to accessing and sharing data.

Until you find your perfect tech match, one of the easiest ways to improve remote working is preparation and planning.

  1. Invest in future-proof technology

    Over the next five years, industry experts have predicted that the following digital technologies will have the most impact:

    Cloud computing and storage – 40%
    • Tablets – 39%
    • Smartphones – 31%
    • Social media – 25%
    • Mobile apps – 25%
    • Web collaboration tools – 23%

    The results show a clear correlation with remote work and a new way of working. To stay competitive and keep up with the rest of the market, investing in these future-proof technologies will be essential.

    Not only will this new infrastructure make remote working and collaboration easier, they’ll enable you to offer the most competitive packages to future employees: 35% of respondents in a Lancaster University Work Foundation report said that it was essential to their work/life balance.

    In some cases you could be missing out on the most qualified employees by not offering flexible working; a shocking 1.9 million people don’t apply for jobs they are qualified for due to inflexible workstyles. Invest in remote access, cyber security and mobile devices to attract your new workforce.

  2. Install and update essential programs

    If you have a client that you see on a regular basis, consider getting your respective IT teams together for a conversation to see how they can make sure your technology will work seamlessly when you need to. This might include preloading drivers and installing software for proprietary and in-house software onto laptops and mobile devices.

  3. Learn good security habits

    If remote working is a new concept for your business, you’ll likely need to make sure that proper training is available. Make sure that employees are aware of the latest best practice when it comes to IT security. Establish rules and procedures to follow, such as whether or not using personal devices is acceptable, and how to securely handle data when offsite.

    In fact, 90% of people believe that desk-based employees are more of a security risk than their solely remote-working colleagues. The perception is that the specific training, tools and technologies that remote workers receive helps to make them more aware of security risks. Despite this, 91% of workers surveyed said they access sensitive content remotely, only 58% felt these connections were “private and secure.”

    People are ready to work from home. The key is to give them the tools in which they can do so – safely and productively.

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