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Remote working: work anywhere, anytime.

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It’s 4:55 am, and I’m sitting in my car in a train station car park in deepest darkest Hampshire waiting for the first train into Waterloo. Sadly I’m not up early to go on holiday. Actually, I’m upgrading a customer’s accounting systems – and who said IT isn’t rock and roll! The fact is I’m filling what would normally be dead time reading the news, or browsing eBay for something I don’t need, by doing something constructive. Our upgrade window for this work is small, but my remote working tools are powerful.

So, using our remote tool I am securely connected onto a server in central London and have backed up their systems and kicked off the upgrade. I am using a smartphone and our remote control tool that runs over all platforms. Using 4G I have instantaneous access and real time control, with little or no lag whatsoever. By the time I pass Surbiton, just 40 minutes later, the upgrade is done, server rebooted and systems tested and handed back to the client.

OK, so of course it would have been easier using a PC form the office, but I now have nearly an hour back in my day that I would have otherwise lost. And, more importantly, the client has been upgraded without any downtime – all thanks to a smartphone and fast mobile internet. I utilised the technology available and increased efficiency.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is nothing new. I’m not suggesting anyone should expect their staff to be a social misfit like me and work at 5am, but the point is, the working window is now bigger than ever before. People don’t need expensive laptops or to be in an internet café or office to work remotely. Every day you see people sitting with their laptops or tablets on park benches, on buses and even on the underground, with access to everything be it a private network or a web portal hosted on the other side of the earth. The phrase working on anything, from anywhere has never been more apt – and with the current advances in mobile computing (wearable tech etc) this is only set to improve.

Of course there is an argument that this makes the working day far too long. You may have read that the French have now banned any business emails to be sent after 6pm in an attempt to ensure people have a healthy work / life balance (strangely only applicable to protect people working in the digital and consultancy sectors). The actual deal was agreed with unions and the government, and stated that employees will have to switch off work phones and avoid looking at work email, while firms cannot pressure staff to check messages.

And, it isn’t just the French. Back in 2011 VW announced that servers would stop sending emails 30 minutes after the end of employees’ shifts, and only start again half an hour before the person returned to work. Their move was followed by Germany’s labour ministry and apparently is now commonplace in Germany.

This is a topic of much discussion, with many opinions. Every role, in every organisation, across every industry carries with it different expectations. Not to mention the thoughts of employee as against employer – so surely it’s impossible to enforce and police? Then of course there’s the employee ethic consideration, although pertinent to this overall discussion, it’s not an area I plan to explore in detail for this blog.

Remote-WorkingAs an employer, here at Priority One, we embrace the available technology and have people working from home on a regular basis, as well as multiple sites across London. They are able to work as normal with access to all systems, including having their extension numbers piped through to their laptop / tablet using a softphone. Mobile working is very much here to stay, and whilst it may not work for a lot of industries, with the right tools, it is as efficient as working in the office. Surveys have apparently proven that people working from home are more productive, take less breaks and work longer hours. The common joke of course is that in reality the employee is sitting at home in front of the TV, occasionally wiggling their mouse on route to the fridge to ensure Skype doesn’t report them as absent…

If you’ve never entertained home working or have dismissed it in the past, maybe it’s time to revisit? Are you doing enough for your employees and organisation on this front? What is your competitor’s stance on this?

There are multiple benefits to remote working:

  • Improved employee retention e.g. home working can help retain working parents with childcare responsibilities.
  • A wider pool of applicants from which to recruit e.g. disabled people who may prefer to work from home or those with long commutes.
  • Productivity gains thanks to fewer interruptions and no commuting time.
  • Increased staff motivation with reduced stress and sickness levels.
  • Savings on office space and other facilities, consider introducing hot desks.
  • Ability to locate sales staff near clients rather than in your premises.

Priority One can help get you started. We’ll assess your current setup, identify what’s required, and propose a tailored solution to get your business working remotely. Most concerns relating to this topic have now been solved with technology. Mobile device management for example allows the complete control and remote wiping of drives should they be lost or stolen. You can also set up a ring fence so any devices restricted to a defined perimeter can we wiped or locked the second they go outside of it.

Talking from personal experience, the ability to work effectively from home on occasion has been absolutely key to my work / life balance here at Priority One. With children being ill and trains unable to roll over 1mm of snow, it’s genuinely allowed me to stay on top of everything whilst being 30 miles away from the office. Talking from a company director point of view, it’s crucial that when our employees are unable to get into the office, they are able to work just as efficiently from home.

Even if you don’t have full-time home workers, isn’t having the ability to work from home (just in case the need arises) a no brainer for your business?

Priority One – London IT Support

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Tom Merriott

With over 20 years experience working in the IT industry delivering unrivalled customer service, Tom is perfectly suited to advise on what's trending in IT and how best to deliver day-to-day efficiencies for our clients and readers.

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