It’s National Work from Home Day and the home working trend is growing. The UK government previously 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. At the same time, there seems to be a paradigm shift where employers are moving away from traditional nine-to-five business hours, in efforts to retain talent and harbour a more diverse workforce.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, who supports the initiative said: “Millions of working people would like to work from home, at least some of the time. And organisations that facilitate home working have been shown to be happier and more productive places to work.
For those with caring responsibilities – most commonly women – home-working can be a game-changer. It makes work more accessible too, with 200,000 disabled people working from home.
It’s also good for employers: boosting motivation, making a company more attractive to new talent, and ensuring that experienced staff don’t have to quit if their circumstances change.”
Issues for IT on National Work from Home Day
As IT leaders will know, technology is one of the main driving forces of this trend. The introduction of better wireless internet connections, the proliferation of smartphones as viable business tools and the explosion in new apps like Dropbox, OpenOffice and Google Drive have made not only working from home easier, it has made it possible to work from practically anywhere.
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This shift in working models poses significant challenges for IT who face difficulties to implement the correct technology to enable this flexibility. IT leaders will need to ensure that workers can remain as productive as their on-premise counterparts and that they are also keeping data secure.
According to Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study: United Kingdom, data breaches cost UK organisations an average of £2.48 million. GDPR fines will have a major impact on their business too, IT leaders cannot afford to ignore any potential cause of information loss.
To combat these threats, organisations need to implement a comprehensive security strategy and education programme to make sure all employees take responsibility for the data they access.
IT operations and a disparate workforce
Operating and collaborating in real-time with access to corporate information will be vital for the flexible worker.
This is difficult in practice for IT leaders. This model brings up a lot of complexities, IT will need to ensure their disparate workforce is properly set up to work productively. Not only will organisations have to ensure that employees are set up at home with office essentials such as a PC laptop, network connection and office software, they will also need to incorporate cutting-edge collaboration tools.
The Internet of Things (IoT), enterprise mobility management (EMM) and managed mobility services (MMS) are the big players to keep an eye on in this regard. IT will need to really pay attention to the latest innovations and think beyond the basics of enterprise mobility. Instead they will need to look at vendors who can offer greater analysis and select solutions that fit specific business needs.
Implementing enterprise mobility will no longer be a consideration but a mandatory element in any business plan, with solutions and strategies more evolved than ever before.
Keeping productivity up
A central role of IT is making sure their operations are helping employees work more productively. While some would argue that working from home is a skiver’s dream, the right management can make this far from the truth.
This is reflected in research from Maintel, who found that older more experienced workers believe they could be as productive or more productive with flexible working conditions, while younger works tend to disagree.
According to Rufus Grig, CTO at Maintel: “For younger workers, this preference could be due to the fact that they require the face-to-face support of experienced co-workers, as around a third found getting hold of colleagues or managers a challenge when working remotely.
The reality is, many millennials still live with a parent or in shared accommodation, so they’d rather be in the office than at home. But it may also be down to the social aspects of office life, and of ensuring your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and unrewarded.
On the other hand, older employees have responsibilities at home, and remote working allows them to be more efficient with their time. This is an interesting point as it highlights the importance of good management.”
If flexible working is going to become more prevalent, IT leaders must make sure they make operations flexible too, or productivity will suffer.