Remote working and mobile offices: Is the tide starting to turn?

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Over the next few years, the way many businesses operate is predicted to dramatically change. For many employees however, the process is already beginning.

43% of respondents in a Unify survey back in July admitted they’d look elsewhere if they were given more flexible working options, while a paper from PwC at the same time predicted that by 2022, many employees would expect to strike a deal with their employers; greater flexibility and challenges from remote working in their contracts.

To a certain extent this is happening today with enterprise mobility and the consumerisation of IT, yet some employers refuse to budge.

A new report from agile cloud workspace provider The 4th Office, in conjunction with agency Rooster Punk, has shed some light on current business managers’ working habits, and concluded that working remotely means working smarter.

The wheels are certainly in motion. 71% of respondents in the survey, of 100 UK businesses, said they were using mobile devices to collaborate, with 62% using video conferencing and 55% instant messenger tools. Interestingly, only 42% said they used landline phones.

Similarly, the idea of employees being glued to their desks is gradually moving away. A quarter of respondents said their whole team works remotely either full time or part time. 87% of business leaders agreed that “everyone doesn’t need to be together all the time to work together.” The report cites the primary reason for remote working, or hotdesking, as keeping overhead costs down.

Not surprisingly, the biggest collaboration tool for UK businesses is email, cited by a whopping 97% of survey respondents. Dave Erasmus, founder of charity platform Givey, told the survey: “I hate email because it turns you into a responsive person rather than a productive person. There’s something really wrong with working with that system.”

With the technology in place to enable businesses theoretical freedom and productivity with fewer costs, enterprise mobility solutions providers are jumping all over the opportunity. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff famously claimed he could run his entire business on his phone with Salesforce1. Other vendors, such as FeedHenry and Good Technology among others, offer apps which allow different departments to complete workflows specific to them on their mobile device.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But there’s a problem. 39% of respondents cited issues with leadership when working remotely, while managing information (36%) and technical issues (21%) were also pinged. 14% of those polled said they had no problems managing a virtual team.

For CIOs and CEOs, there has to be compromise, as well as an element of letting go and trusting your employees. If your employees are committed to your cause, they’ll want to get more work done. George Christoforakis, founder of iOS dating app Rendeevoo, told the survey he doesn’t dictate what tools his team uses – he likes to give them choice.

This is a view Enterprise AppsTech agrees with in principle, although with some of the mission critical stuff and collaboration there needs to be some commonality. But what’s your view?

Read more: Despite the new mobile offerings, the traditional office cannot die out just yet

 

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BrianMartin
17 Nov 2014, 7:09 p.m.

Couldn't agree more! For remote teams, email is a productivity killer because it is a passive communications tool in a world where real-time conversations need to happen. www.Glip.com is an instant messaging platform for business. It basically puts chat to work - File sharing, shared doc editing, video chat, shared calendar, graphic annotation and task management. It's definitely worth taking a look!

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