Clicking on the worldIn 2016, the modern workforce doesn’t want to be static – and there’s no need for it to be.

Whereas once upon a time the idea of remote working was very unusual, these days it’s actually far more common for an enterprise to enable its employees to work from home (or a library or wherever) at least some of the time.

Indeed, some businesses that rely on many field workers need to enable their employees to stay connected whilst out of the office.

The enabler of this revolution can of course be attributed to the rise and rise of the internet, which has indeed made remote working – or teleworking as it is sometimes called – a very realistic prospect. Just 10 or 15 years ago – and certainly 20 years ago – office workers simply didn’t have the option to work from home, as the information that they needed was not readily available outside of the office.

But today things are different. Indeed, along with the internet itself, there are two other things that are undeniable catalysts for the remote working uprising – the smartphone and the cloud.

Smartphones make internet access ultimately portable, and the cloud has meant that what is accessible over the internet can be distributed amongst the enterprise’s workforce no matter where they happen to be or what device they happen to have to hand.

Remote Working On The Rise

Data from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com reveals that teleworking amongst the non-self-employed has risen 103% since 2005.

Furthermore:

  • 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency
  • 80% to 90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part time. Two to three days a week seems to be the sweet spot that allows for a balance of concentrative work (at home) and collaborative work (at the office).
  • Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile. Studies repeatedly show they are not at their desk 50-60% of the time.

Remote Workers Are More Productive

Some companies simply don’t allow their employees to work from home, even though the capability is there. The reason for this stance is simple – when you allow employees to work remotely, there will always be the productivity question mark looming over everything that they do. However, to be frank, this type of attitude in 2016 suggests an unhealthy company culture more than anything else.

Scholars at Stanford University in the US ran an experiment – the 2014 Ctrip Study – the findings of which revealing that people who work full time from home are 13% more efficient. As the Money & Career CheatSheet reports:

“Professor Nicholas Bloom, one of the study’s authors, claims the work-from-home experiment, which lasted nine months, saved the company $1,900 per employee. This factors in savings on office space, higher performance, and fewer people quitting.”

How To Use The Cloud To Enable A Mobile Workforce

To enable a mobile workforce, the enterprise needs to turn to the cloud. Essentially, three key areas need to be addressed to make remote working possible, so let’s take a look at what they are and the cloud solutions that make them possible.

Hosted VoIP Communications

When business move their PBX (private branch exchange) to the cloud, they can allow their employees access to the full suite of business telecoms communications no matter where they are.

Feature rich hosted VoIP solutions mean that employees can be contactable on their mobile or home devices via the dialling of a single number – Find me/Follow me features simply forward the calls to the employee. There are a whole host of other business features too in these solutions, such as auto-attendants, music on hold, and the ability to scale and deploy flexible staffing measures for busy periods.

SaaS

Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions mean that all of a company’s software is hosted in the cloud, which in turn means that employees don’t have to be at the office to access it. Indeed, rather than business-critical software being stored on a desktop that is permanently tethered to a desk via an Ethernet cable, with the software in the cloud, all the employee needs is an internet connection to gain access to it. This could be on their desktop at home, on their laptop in a café or library, or on their mobile device whilst on the commute.

File Storage And Data Sharing

The final thing that is essential for a remote workforce is its ability to share and store data – and the cloud enables both. No matter how far your staff are spread, once data is backed up in the cloud, retrieving it on any device simply relies once again on an internet connection.

In turn, this negates the need for data to be shared across the likes of email – and, as we all know, the emailing of large files is a slow process, and the receiving of lots of separate email files is a cumbersome one. The cloud puts pay to all of this – even with exceptionally large audio and video files which are becoming more and more significant amongst the modern workforce.

The rise of the remote worker is surely set to continue, and the solution lies in the cloud.