During the initial and unstoppable rise of the humble PC throughout the 1980s, sociologists made now seemingly wild predictions. These included that home workers would account for a larger proportion of the average office workforce than those based with bricks and mortar premises by the 90s.
It’s no secret that these figures failed to come into any form of fruition.
Today, with an unstoppable force of ever more advanced enterprise apps it seems that now could finally be the time for a workforce transformed through tech – so here we take a look at just where we stand with an eye on the predictions of yesteryear computing.
The surprising landscape of the mobile workforce
Contrary to many an employer’s belief, taking the road of mobile workers can deliver innumerable benefits, not least of which is a seriously boosted bottom line through a workforce that is more productive; this goes against the grain of traditional views, which would likely preach that workers within home environments (accompanied by all the distractions that go along with them) would be slower, less motivated and significantly more difficult to manage.
Ronald Barba covered this very subject on TechCo back in April, speaking of a comprehensive study from Stanford University, going on to report upon further findings that such workers take fewer sick days, as well as enjoying a calmer, quieter working environment.
So, just where is the remote workforce at?
The advancement of tech has well and truly empowered the possibility of remote working, with 48% of office workers now able to work from home (Virgin Business 2013) and with Office Angels reporting that many envisage commuting to be completely eradicated by the year 2036.
Positive stuff, right? Yet just because businesses can, doesn’t mean they are. And despite the visions of forward thinking businesses, the Office of National Statistics report that 86% of people are still firmly within the office. So what’s holding these companies back? Is it merely a case of technophobia, or is down to bad-old fashioned poor management? Organizational Psychologist Cary Cooper argues that it may be a bit of both, stating that “It's totally about trust, and the incompetence of managers who don't know how to manage people remotely.” (The Guardian 2014).
Enterprise apps harnessed by the world’s most innovative (and profitable) companies
The most innovative of companies are harnessing enterprise technology for the better, from video conferencing to team collaboration tools and finishing upon now mobile SaaS applications – all of which can literally provide every home worker with the virtual keys to the office. And where once security was a seemingly unsurmountable brick wall for transitioning to a mobile workforce, today enterprise tech is providing for secure working from anywhere in the world. This includes the file sharing and synchronization focussed app – Nomadesk, which both boosts the security of critical digital assets, as well as empowering mobile workers to work collaboratively.
Companies that have truly harnessed the power of enterprise tech for the home worker include the leading example of the world’s most profitable company – Apple, that allows for customer support agents to operate from home; Dell, which offers remote work alongside benefits such as flexitime, job sharing and compressed working weeks; and Xerox which has a staggering workforce of over 8,000 individuals around the world covering roles that range from developers to quality controllers.
Yet it’s no coincidence that each of these companies are tech giants – and are each innovators within their own market. If only managers throughout other industries and sectors were so unafraid of all that home workers could deliver.
The future is most certainly bright for those who hone in and capitalize upon all that enterprise tech can deliver. And for the remainder, tomorrow’s world of trade may well begin to look increasingly like the dark ages – full of dreary de-motivating Mondays, bottom lines that suffer from unnecessary overheads and, all in all, seriously gloomy financial forecasts.