Until recently, organizations had compelling technology-related reasons for limiting remote work. Video solutions that would enable face-to-face communication were wonky; it was difficult to secure and update off-network employee devices; and workers needed to use often-clunky virtual private network (VPN) connections to access critical work applications.
Today, all that has changed — or, at least, it’s changed for most organizations that have invested in the latest devices and applications. In many cases, what’s really holding organizations back from supporting anytime, anyplace work is a culture that prioritizes “seat time” over productivity. Some managers simply have difficulty believing that their employees are working unless they can see their effort with their own eyes.
To be fair, part of the reason this sort of culture persists is that some enterprises have been slow to adopt the tools that make remote work secure and productive. To truly support anytime, anyplace workflows, organizations must make changes to both their technologies and their mindsets. If they do, they stand to gain a number of advantages.
How Workplace Solutions Help Users Get More Done
One of the biggest benefits of supporting anytime, anywhere work is improved productivity. In CDW’s Modern Workforce Insight Report, 48 percent of IT decision-makers cited employee productivity as a top driver of their organizations’ investments in workplace solutions. This makes sense. Even organizations that discourage remote work regularly experience situations when employees can’t come into the office (such as business travel, family emergencies or illness). If organizations don’t put workplace solutions in place to accommodate these employees, their productivity suffers.
Many forward-thinking organizations are adopting telework strategies specifically to ensure business continuity if a physical office becomes inaccessible due to a natural disaster or other emergency. For companies that don’t support anytime, anywhere work, such a shutdown could lead to a near-total work stoppage. But organizations that have invested in modern workplace solutions would see continued productivity.
Improved security, process efficiency, collaboration and ability to extract value from data are also top drivers of investments in workplace solutions.
Challenges Remain for the Modern Workplace
Ninety-two percent of IT decision-makers say that migrating toward modern workplace solutions is a challenge. The shift is apparently even more difficult for large organizations than small ones. While just 44 percent of IT decision-makers at companies with fewer than 2,500 employees say it is “very” or “extremely” challenging to implement new workplace solutions, 58 percent at larger companies say the same.
In my experience, these challenges are usually a mix of cultural and technological hurdles, although there is sometimes overlap between the two. For instance, many organizations struggle to secure solutions without negatively affecting the end user experience.
Overcome Hurdles to Make It Work
To be successful, an anytime, anyplace strategy must address both technology and organizational culture.
On the technology side, organizations must ensure that they have appropriate devices in place to support remote work, applications that can be accessed from anywhere and a way to manage both. Today’s consumer devices come standard with security tools, including biometric authentication, that often outpace the sorts of solutions most organizations could deploy themselves even a few years ago. Cloud collaboration suites and other Software as a Service (SaaS) tools make it easy for users to access enterprise tools and work with their colleagues from anywhere. And unified endpoint management platforms give organizations the ability to monitor and manage applications and off-network devices.
This visibility and control should help assuage the some managers’ fears that their employees won’t be productive if they’re not being watched. But ultimately, the cultural shift will have to go deeper, with organizations developing better ways to measure employee productivity and hiring people they trust to do their jobs. With mobile connectivity improving and applications continuing to evolve, the technology to support anytime, anywhere work is already here — and will continue to advance at even greater speeds in the future.
Organizations will need to keep up.
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