It seems a lifetime ago when I entered the working world fresh out of University at a time when the internet, mobile devices and cloud computing weren’t even thought of.
The nearest I got to anything remotely computerised was a prized possession, an Olivetti electronic typewriter capable of holding 8 pages of A4 in its memory including my C.V.
Over the last twenty years technological advancements make it possible to work remotely and this has changed the way in which we approach our working day.
Remote or mobile working has given the family with young children more flexibility!
Mobile devices, smart phones, tablets, e-readers, kindles can provide accessibility to the internet.
Work is now seen as an activity and not a destination or location that one has to trawl through traffic to get to day in day out.
One particular Manager I recall working for in the City in my days as a Sales Rep absolutely insisted I report to the office first thing in the morning prior to the commencement of my customer visits for the day. This meant a trip to the Angel, London, my place of work and then on to to see customers which could have been North of London.
This was an absolute waste of my time, valuable company time and a waste of car fuel.
No matter how hard I tried I could not convince him that working this way was tiring and ineffective. Clearly, me showing my face at the beginning of the day was the reassurance he needed to know I was working.
It didn’t cross his mind that if I wanted to I could have easily slipped off any afternoon and gone to Oxford Street shopping!
Despite earlier resistors to remote working, Managers now appreciate the benefits that can be derived from employees working from home.
In the last ten years there has been a radical shift in mindset toward the advantages of the mobile working model.
Accessing emails, connecting to remote systems and company data on the go have revolutionised the way we work, engaging with customers either on line or face to face, via social media, email and mobile phone are an accepted part of the new working model.
Employees are no longer obliged to sit at their desks day in day out. With the advent of mobile computing and smart devices accessing company data couldn’t be easier. Mobile working is effective wherever you are.
Organisations have streamlined integration of business applications into the mobile world through cloud computing providing a deeper level of functionality and security on mobile platforms for remote working.
In turn this has resulted in:-
- Full access to all business critical systems and data resulting in quicker decision making
- Enhanced productivity as employees can work wherever they are
- Increased flexibility, changes in working hours and the option to work from home especially during bouts of heavy snow and interrupted travel
The remote working model has made portable mobile devices indispensable, the biggest headache is deciding which one is the right one for you! In turn, mobile devices and cloud computing have revolutionised the way we work!
Many organisations embrace this way of working because it provides tangible benefits such as cost reduction, growth, employee satisfaction and better customer care.
There is a convincing argument for mobile working but is there a downside to working alone, at home, remotely?
Carrying your “office” may have its disadvantages, leaving us disconnected from work colleagues and associates. Working from home or mobile working does require a degree of discipline its easy to be distracted by other external influences such as the home phone ringing, a neighbour seeing your car on the drive who just happens to call unannounced.
None of which is insurmountable, as long as you set your working boundaries, hours of work and bolster a big sign that says “I might be in but I am actually working from home today”
What initiatives can you implement to ensure employees are singing from the same hymn sheet:-
1. Set and agree goals. Employees can lose direction without a sense of purpose. Managers are required to set goals reinforcing the importance of collaboration and agreement between team members.
Remote employees actively suggest new ideas, create their own projects, set and share personal goals and put forward solutions.
2. Stay connected . Great team players are trustworthy and available. Web and mobile connectivity makes it easier to connect with remote employees but it can also make it harder and less certain i.e. are they on a call with a client? Is she on Skype with an associate?
Whose responsibility is it to stay connected? The remote worker’s or the office? No wrong answer here but remote employees assume the onus is on them to stay connected.
Remote employees let others know when they won’t be available and the reasons why, they also make it known how they can still be contacted in the event of an emergency because they consider working remotely as a trade-off they may have more freedom to slip into the kitchen and make a coffee but they also recognise that with that freedom comes the responsibility of super-availability. This in turn means that super-availability creates trust with employees and customers.
3. Focus on results not time. With some organisations it’s enough to show up and put in your time working and what you actually accomplish is almost secondary to being present.
Employees working outside of the main offices tend to focus on results, not presence.
Remote employees focus on accomplishing objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible. If a task “should” take a week and it is completed in three days that opens up time to accomplish other tasks.
There is no doubt that remote working and cloud computing have opened up our lives to being more creative, imposing self will and more freedom to manage the end result.
As long as the end goal is a sense of well being, accomplishment and more time to spend with the family then mobile working should be welcomed by employers and employees alike.