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Remote Work: How to Bring Enabling Technologies Into the (Extended) Workplace

The remote work movement is growing. Is your organisation prepared?

According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report, 99% of remote workers would like to work remotely at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers and 95% encourage others to work remotely, too, with the main benefits they list off as schedule flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere.

What is a remote worker?

A remote worker isn’t just an employee who works from home. There are many different configurations that may refer to remote work. These may include: 

• Full time employees who sometimes work from home, and sometimes from the office

• Employees away on business offsite

• Contractors who may work offsite

• Outsourced labour, whether it’s locally or internationally

• Short term workers, part of the gig economy

• Anyone else who does work for your company but isn’t in the building when they’re doing it

Remote workers still need access to company resources

The problem that organisations have had in allowing employees to work remotely, or engaging the services of outsourced workers, is in information and systems access. 

This is why many people have had a work laptop that they can take home with them (or away on business) if they are working offsite. The laptop would be configured much the same as work computers, with limited access and lockdown of administration functions so that system settings couldn’t be changed, apps couldn’t be downloaded, etc., etc. The laptop would be configured to have access via authenticated remote logins, so that if it ended up in the wrong hands that company systems wouldn’t be accessible.

While this system is still generally effective if you want to use it, there are some downsides. One being the cost of purchasing multiple laptops for the workplace. Do you buy one for everyone? And if not, how do you decide who gets priority to take one with them? What if an employee forgets to take a laptop home for the weekend to do work? What’s the security policy if they lose it?

This also doesn’t take into account other remote working styles where the person engaged to do the work never even steps foot in the office, is a contractor, or is working in a completely different location.

How do remote workers get access to company resources?

As mentioned, remote workers may have a work-designated laptop that they use to access company resources. 

Another way that remote work has been managed previously is through web-based company portals or intranets, accessed on people’s own devices from a remote location. This generally keeps information in the one spot, without having to worry about device security too much. However, it does still mean complete management of these systems yourself onsite in a traditional configuration.

This is why companies are now switching over to cloud-based solutions that are (almost) an all-in-one solution. Combined with a Managed Service Provider (MSP), it gives you the option to let your organisational data live in the cloud, with management of systems in the hands of professionals.

Cloud-based, managed solutions are the way forward

The nature of work and the workplace is changing, and it’s changing rapidly, thanks to technology, and millennials, the digital-first generation, coming of working age.

The Future of Work is Changing 2017, from EY reports that:

• 82% of milllennials said workplace technology would influence their choice to accept a new job

• 62% of companies use flexible workers (freelancers, temp, agency)

• 72% of execs said the need for globally mobile employees will increase during the next two to three years

This points to some key technology enablers: to be able to attract and retain talent, have systems that allow for smooth, flexible work, and a mobile-first strategy to keep up with both trends as well as the remote workforce.

The systems needed to support this include:

• Cloud-based systems, rather than onsite tech infrastructure

• Secure remote access for all types of workers

• A mobile strategy that looks to the future

These are all possible to put into any workplace today, but they need a clear strategy or blueprint for implementation.

Working with an MSP to develop your cloud strategy and migration is a good starting point. That’s one of our first recommendations for companies looking to undergo a digital transformation. You can read our case study with Thomas Hopper & Partners to see how we helped this multi-disciplinary firm do just that.

With the right cloud systems in place, security and management of users, groups, data, and apps can all be easier than managing these onsite. The ability to set up remote access and things like BYOD policies is something that our partners like Microsoft and AWS do very well with their products. They have built these services because they understand businesses like yours need that security.

Building your own mobile platform or suite of work apps can be a tricky situation, but with the right plan, partners, and iterative approach, it’s possible to further enable work via mobile, and not just for emails or quickly checking over documents.

Ask us how we can help

At A1 Technologies, we’re experienced in helping transform businesses so that their systems are more modernized, ready for the future of work. We help find the right set of enabling technologies to allow your workforce to be more efficient and effective at their jobs.

Contact us now to hear more about what we can do for your company.

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