How to prepare for flexible working

The UK recently passed new employment legislation that ensures every full-time worker is allowed to apply for flexible working, something that was previously only available to parents with children under 17 years of age.

As with any change to the work environment, these new laws are likely to have a profound impact on the IT team and current ways of working, for which organisations need to be prepared.

Flexible working will mean more and more people logging on from home and a more disparate workforce than ever.

As more employees move away from traditional nine-to-five business hours, there will be a greater emphasis on new ways of working and communicating; operating in and collaborating in real-time with access to corporate information will be vital for these flexible workers, not to mention their employers and colleagues of course.

>See also: Managing the transition to the flexible working world

For IT teams this translates to greater IT complexity, as they’ll need to ensure flexible workers are properly set up to work in such a way and able to remain as productive as their on-premise counterparts.

With this in mind, what stands out from an IT perspective is enterprise mobility management (EMM), which will be critical for organisations and IT service desks coming to terms with these new laws.

Setting up employees to work from home 10 to 15 years ago was much harder than it is now. The vast majority of today’s employees will already have a good proportion of home office essentials such as a PC or laptop, network connection and office software.

However, this doesn’t mean the introduction of flexible working will be a breeze – far from it.

If businesses want their employees to operate effectively from home, there are plenty of considerations besides these essentials.

For instance, office software needs to be installed, updated and supported; PCs need to be secured with the necessary IT security features installed and the network maintained.

It’s no good telling employees to do this themselves, even if they are capable of installing office software correctly. It needs to be managed effectively so that the same processes are in place for every IT user and so that every IT user can perform effectively as per his/her role in the organisation.

No organisation can expect its employees to work effectively outside of the office without some kind of mobility policy and best practice in place. This is where EMM comes into play.

It’s not a wild assumption to suggest that flexible workers will be demanding unprecedented mobile access to business IT resources.

To be effective in supporting workforce mobility, IT administrators must focus on the secure delivery of services, rather than maintaining control over the endpoints, which is impractical at the best of times, let alone when dealing with remote/flexible employees.

Devices still need to be managed, but just to ensure they are optimally configured to perform business tasks, rather than fully governed by IT operations.

This can be a difficult concept for IT administrators to accept as they must let end-users take some or all responsibility for their own devices.

End-users should have the ability to provision their own mobile devices with little or no interaction with IT operations.

This can be accomplished with a consolidated application delivery system, such as a mobile app store, that provides a “one stop shopping” experience for accessing all business applications, including static applications, virtual applications and web applications.

Similarly, data can be stored and distributed via a secure share or other centralised and commonly accessed repository. All provisioning procedures should include approval and authentication processes to ensure resources are only accessed by authorised personnel.

>See also: 4 steps IT should take to prepare for the UK’s new flexible-working law

In light of the new legislation, IT teams may also want to reconsider remote support as part of their overall EMM strategy.

Mobile devices, like any form of IT, are prone to error– be it malware, user error or compatibility issues.

For workers exercising their right to work outside of the usual office confines, it’s no good attempting to take the device away for further examination.

IT administrators need to be able to troubleshoot devices remotely and take control of them to view the device screen and use the device keyboard.

This remote end user support provides rapid diagnostics and problem resolution to reduce IT costs, accelerate the adoption of new services and decrease device downtime to improve workforce efficiency.


Sourced from Roberto Casetta, VP EMEA, FrontRange

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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