It’s snowing. Transport is a mess. It’s impossible to get to work. Peter still has his regular breakfast and gets dressed for work because he’s got an important meeting with his colleague in Sweden.
Through a USB key he picked from work Steven runs a version of Windows on a computer where he accesses the Microsoft Office applications he’s so familiar with. Through Microsoft Lync he’s able to talk to his colleague in Sweden via a video connection.
Work files are available because his home system has synced them. He opens a PowerPoint document with an app that works exactly the same way as it does in the office. He shares the document with his Swedish colleague. They get down to business.
The workplace is changing. Gone are the days when it was essential for employees to be stuck in an office cubicle for their entire working lives. Good businesses realise that flexibility is beneficial for a happy and productive environment.
It allows them to hire valuable staff that for any number of reasons can’t work in a traditional office: for instance freelancers working in a different country, or people with valuable but extremely unique technical skills that are difficult to find.
An organisation won't lose valuable people who might want to start a family or move to a different part of the country. And you'll find that employees working from home can be more productive without the distractions of an office, or the time wasting of a tortuous car or rail journey.
The biggest challenge that businesses find is putting the right technology in place. If you don't have, for example, the right hardware (laptops, servers or web-enabled devices like smartphones) together with suitable connectivity, you're fighting a losing battle. However, it is becoming much easier for IT departments to implement remote working thanks to cloud computing.
Securing information and data
The ability to access business information and applications on-demand over the internet is a big change. Previously it would have been a huge effort for IT staff to keep business information secure on different devices. Now, software like Microsoft Office 365 is available on demand, which provides access to Office applications and documents across any devices you might have in your company, as well as the various gadgets employees bring in from the outside.
For the IT department, Office 365 takes much of the worry away.
· As Office 365 is cloud-based, your back- end services are monitored 24 hours a day and you get a financially backed uptime guarantee.
· Data is encrypted through transit, and held in datacentres which are independently audited and some of the most secure in the world.
· You can manage security by adding users, setting access rules, and remotely locking and wiping devices if stolen.
To get these types of services on-premises was and is very difficult. Cloud technology allows you to reduce costs, automate processes, increase scalability and simplify your IT. You can manage all the technology from a centralised location, making growth and expansion much easier and with lower setup costs.
But increased remote working brings some natural concerns. Will employees will be equally or more productive without the face-to-face pressure of a manager? And how do you stop the detachment that comes from not being part of the office team? Again, cloud technology could be the answer, as there are powerful online collaborative tools available which will benefit whatever organisation you're working with or for.
Office 365 features include:
· The potential to gain access to company bulletins, docs and policies from anywhere. It also offers the possibility of using a team site to manage reports, proposals, calendars and budgets.
· Functionality with Lync, which means you're just a real-time message or video call away from a mobile worker, and they are with their colleagues
Whether you're IT support in a large enterprise, or an IT manager in a small business, there’s now an expectation integrating remote working into the organisation. With cloud computing, it is now much easier to make it a reality.
Asavin is a specialist technology writer with more than five years experience writing for different web publications. He’s particularly interested in Microsoft technology and how it fits for business needs throughout the world.