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Mobile working – evolution or laissez-faire?

IT Systems are becoming more mobile. Compared with 5 years ago, staff are much more likely to be using laptops, tablets and smartphones as opposed to PCs with large tower hard drives under their desks.

IT Systems are becoming more mobile. Compared with 5 years ago, staff are much more likely to be using laptops, tablets and smartphones as opposed to PCs with large tower hard drives under their desks. Applications have changed as well with many new applications now web browser-based rather than static and only accessible in the office.

In many cases this switch to mobile devices and apps seems to have just ‘happened’. However, proactively considering a mobility strategy is something bosses might want to consider, as there are many benefits to be had, as well as pitfalls that would be best avoided.

Developing a mobile strategy

Firstly it is essential to review your workforce to decide what they do, how they do it and what allowing them to be mobile would bring to the table. If they need to be at their desk from 9-5 being mobile would not enhance performance. But if staff would happily put in a few extra hours from home to keep on top of their emails and projects in the evening or at the weekend, then there may be a real benefit to the organisation in phasing in mobile working.

It’s important to assess what your staff would need to work effectively in a mobile setting. Maybe remote access to email alone would give them the ability to do 90% of their normal tasks, or it may be that they would need to give them access to more complex software and databases to make them as productive as they are in the office.

Pros and cons of mobile working

If an organisation drifts towards mobility rather than plans its strategic route, it can cause a number of issues. It is essential to be sure that you can you trust your workforce to get on with things without you looking over their shoulder. And to manage risks, for example, if one of your staff left a smartphone in a bar with access to sensitive company information, what would the fallout be?

A mobile workforce can potentially bring lots or productivity benefits to your organisations. You can get closer to your customers, give your staff a better work/life balance, attract staff from further afield, plus get staff to put more into their jobs. There are plenty of technologies out there that will allow you to reap these benefits while mitigating the potential risks associated with going mobile too.

No matter whether your organisation is currently office-based 9-5, or already has staff working from home using cloud applications, tablets and virtual offices, it’s always good to pause and review the potential impacts – both positive and negative – for your business.