The way that organisations provide a place of work has changed over the years, from private offices to shared open plan areas, or from having a desk and a phone to supporting three or more devices per employee.
The business mobile revolution is an on-going process as organisations continue to adapt to the seismic shift technology has had on the way they are provisioned, managed and governed.
The explosion of mobile devices, applications and cloud services continue to bring new challenges – posing endless headaches for IT departments. What is clear is we are moving abruptly from an era of IT scarcity and complexity to one of abundance and simplicity.
Bring Your Own Device
Global movements such as BYOD, consumerisation of IT and mobility are drastically changing the capabilities of employees and their expectations of a workspace. In the very near future BYOD won’t be a ‘trend’ but a norm no one would think twice about.
It is the blurred lines between consumer and enterprise technologies that are shaping the transformation. The boundaries for working environments are being stretched and no longer restrict people to a single office as the workplace becomes increasingly virtualised.
The modern worker wants their mobile phone to check emails on the morning commute, their laptop to hot desk in the office and a tablet to assist in off-site sales meetings.
For many employees, a physical location is irrelevant. This is a notion businesses must get on board with fast.
In a new study called Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work, 90% of managers surveyed said that staff were more productive when left to choose when, where and how they worked.
Successful day-to-day working and collaboration is about how and when information workers access tools, applications and data to fulfill their role and deliver productivity back to the business.
End users want to be able to access the right business resources using the right devices anytime, anyplace and anywhere. Increasingly, if companies respond sluggishly, it is employees that take the initiative.
New Technology in the Workplace
Unisys’ recent Consumerisation of IT Report showed 17% of workers are driving the uptake of new technology in the workplace, with 71% of this ‘elite’ group using unsupported apps to communicate with customers, partners and suppliers.
Businesses must manage this transformation to remote working, rather than allow staff to do it themselves, to ensure corporate safety and maximum productivity. For example, how do people interact with each other? What type of information do they share or should they share? How are they supported? How do different devices connect to each other and what systems are they allowed to connect to?
Accelerating this move to any-time, any-where working is the self-service nature of cloud based systems; be it inside or outside of the organisation. Cloud-based systems also allow for faster updates, provisioning and security.
>See also: UK workers lack BYOD guidance, ICO finds
They also allow remote employees to access all the data and digital resources available to office-based staff. This flexibility will appeal strongly to businesses feeling the weight of soaring commercial property prices and suit workforces increasingly comprised of tech-savvy employees from ‘generation Y’ and, in the near future, ‘generation Z’.
This movement has put more pressure on the IT department to support end users who now have many ways to share information. Rather than serving as an adjunct to the core business – by simply offering commoditised support services – IT is becoming inextricably linked to user experience and employee satisfaction.
As a result, IT can no longer be a one size fits all approach. Virtual services will increasingly need to be customised to suit different sectors of the business, or particular individual personas to enable optimum productivity.
Virtual customisation is already happening via highly scalable, shared service models – allowing users access to anytime, anywhere technical support services with built-in advanced analytics to predict and eliminate problems for the worker before they become apparent. Fewer incidents, faster resolution and improved productivity are all delivered by advanced end user experience monitoring technology.
The benefits of enabling employees and partners to connect in a more productive way can be far reaching. Advantages we’ve seen to date have ranged from bringing products to market faster (for example, enabling purchase approvals through mobile technology, rather than desktop systems, can take days out of the process by eliminating the wait for senior approvers to be in the office), supporting workers with new experiences (can I send documents remotely from my phone to the printer?), and surfacing the right people and knowledge to generate better ideas (how do I find experts across my organisation that I’m not connected to?).
Consider the original idea of the office and why it was designed. Its purpose was to create an environment where employees could access the resources required to do their job. Now the resources (technology and data) have become mobile, the workplace must follow suit.
While employees have become more mobile over the past decade, the office, as a concept has remained largely static. This, however, is changing. Modern commercial property companies such as LiquidSpace, which rents out flexible office space by the hour in locations around the world, represent the future – treating the office as a virtual entity, like the cloud technology that underpins it.
Yet, lessons from history must be learnt. Previous stages of office evolution – such as open plan offices – haven’t always prompted greater productivity or employee happiness.
The next step, moving towards virtual workspaces, can make organisations far more agile but only if those responsible for the IT (and in effect, the productivity) of the employees understand the relationship employees have with their devices and how these change throughout the day based on their personal preference – be it a smartphone for the train, a tablet device for a client meeting or a laptop for remote working at home.
Offices of the future won’t be based around physical cost (i.e. renting corporate space or equipment), but the flexibility to operate in a world that is hyper-connected and always on. It will be one that supports the better work-life balance, allowing employees to work from anywhere, unrestricted by location, time or device.