If you’ve been following workplace trends in the last five years, one significant change is impossible to miss: Work is an activity that we do, not a place where we go.
Gone are the days when most employees made the daily commute to a corporate office, sharing a communal space with colleagues on a regular basis.
Thanks to globalisation, working 9 to 5 hasn’t been most employees’ reality for many years, but now those same workers – who used to arrive early or stay late at the office to get all their work done –are pushing the boundaries of where, when and how they work.
A Frost & Sullivan survey of more than 1,000 IT decision makers in the US and Europe revealed most employees no longer worked in a traditional corporate office. About 25% employees worked from home most or all the time. Others are traditional road warriors, who need to be productive from hotels, airports, and client sites.
This trend is itself both the result of, and a contributor to, several others that are shaping the modern workplace.
The Knowledge Economy
With the commoditisation of everything from production to basic services, businesses must differentiate themselves on creativity and innovation.
As a result, a larger percentage of employees are so-called knowledge workers, meaning they spend their time analysing information and developing newer, better products and services; or they are primarily responsible for ensuring a better customer experience.
These employees thrive in a flexible, open environment that lets them collaborate with their colleagues, partners, and customers, sharing information across geographic and organisational boundaries.
Frost & Sullivan research shows that around 13% of all employees in the US and Europe are considered “mobile,” meaning they spend most of their time on the road.
They must have access to the business and communications applications and services that allow them to be as productive as possible, regardless of where they are working.
They need to be able to reach their colleagues, partners and clients regardless of where they are, or what type of device they are using, responding in real time to urgent requests, meeting invitations, and social media updates and information.
Today’s mobile employees go beyond the traditional “road warrior” and comprise almost all knowledge workers who no longer sit at their desk all day.
As more employees look for ways to stay connected to customers and partners on a global scale, they need to take calls, answer email, and participate in meetings outside of traditional business hours and typical business locations.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Although up to 75% of businesses supply at least some of their employees with smartphones and/or tablets, it’s the rare company that provides mobile devices for all its workers.
Increasingly, employees are relying on their personal smartphones and tablets to conduct business outside of normal business hours or from remote locations during the typical working day.
Doing so helps them stay productive and in ready contact with their key colleagues and customers, but they must have the tools they need to communicate and collaborate, anytime and from anywhere, securely and under IT’s control as needed.
Millennials… and beyond
The Millennial generation make up 33% of today’s workforce, 75% by 2025 (source: Brookings Institute). They are collaborative by nature and expect to work on-the-go with personal choice of mobile device and applications. Enabling collaboration and choice of mobile is key to satisfaction and staff retention.
So how does a business meet all the needs of its mobile or remote workers? I would suggest using these cloud-based tools:
- Presence and instant messaging (IM) - make it easy for users to see whether a colleague is available for a chat, then instantly send a message
- Voice and video - 93% of communicating attitude and feelings is from non-verbal cues
- Unified messaging – give access to emails, voicemails and texts in the format that works best for them
- Desktop and application sharing - users can collaborate on documents in real time
- Support for multiple devices – smartphones, tablets, desktops and laptops
You can find a downloadable version of this article in our whitepaper "Can your business support the new workplace reality" or read more about our mobility solutions in practice in our case study from Pennys Estate Agents.