Times have changed. Twenty-five years ago, most office workers would have worked at their desks 9-5 with very little scope for working anywhere else. We simply did not have the technology or the mindset to make this a reality.
For anyone born 25 years ago, the so-called Generation Z, home, remote or mobile working is a reality. Attitudes and technology have caught up!
As our illustration below shows, 1994 was a cluttered place to be. We did not rely on search engines to gather information, we stored paperwork in folders and filing cabinets, calendars and diaries were in paper format, telephone directories and Rolodexes were crucial for finding contact details, and we had numerous devices to make contact with customers and colleagues.
We used fax machines and a franking machine to send letters. Email was still in its infancy at that time, so bulky PCs were used to create documents for printing and then save on floppy disks. And there were cables everywhere!
Fast forward to 2019 and our desk and floor space is much clearer. Files and contacts are stored on servers or in cloud applications, such as Office 365. We send less letters, choosing to email instead. We can contact customers and colleagues through instant messaging and can set up audio and video conferences with ease.
Some businesses have added contact centre technology to their phone systems and have integrated them with their CRM databases to improve conversations and customer service.
Cabling has been reduced with telephony and data being transmitted through the same internal network while we share hardware, such as printers, to eliminate duplication, and hot-desking allows us to share handsets and PCs too.
Phone systems are now connected to the Public Service Telephone Network (PSTN) by cost-effective internet connections rather than separate telephone lines.
Desk handsets are linked to mobile devices which means staff members remain contactable and in touch with the office wherever they are working. This synchronisation between devices has been key to enabling mobility.
Add in secure remote access to the corporate network via virtual private network (VPN) links and staff can work from home, or anywhere else for that matter, as long as they have an internet connection. They can work on files stored on servers in the office, they can view the presence of their colleagues via unified communications apps, they can hold or join video conferences, share their screen, instant message them and so on.
The benefits of this technology is reflected in the rising number of people now working from home. According to the ONS Labour Force Survey, the largest study of employment circumstances in the UK, more than 1.54 million people work from home for their main job - up from 884,000 a decade ago. More recently, Comms Business stated 70% of professionals work remotely at least one day a week, while 53% work remotely for at least half of the week.
The lifespan of Generation Z has seen an incredible leap in the way businesses work. Internet connectivity has a lot to answer for! While some businesses and their employees enjoy the face-to-face camaraderie and collaboration of working side by side in a far less cluttered workspace, the options are there should someone need to work away from the office.
If you need advice on flexible telephony and IT options, please do not hesitate to contact me. I use the technology three days a week! My colleagues will be only too happy to give you advice too.