Embrace mobility and reap the benefits

By: Stan Corner

Can you remember the days before the mobile phone? I can, but within a generation it’ll be difficult to remember a time when mobile devices weren’t crucial to the way we do many things in our lives.

Of all the business terms I hear today, mobility often means different things to different people, depending on what their perception of mobile technology is. To some, my description above works: Mobility refers to the technology that mobile devices (phones and tablets) have opened to us, whether it be instant access through an app, or the ability to hotspot anywhere, anytime. For others, it’s more to do with the freedom it give us to work anywhere, at anytime, and on any device of our choosing, just as though we were in the office.

For me, the latter description is the most accurate. From a technology perspective, I think most businesses have only really scratched the surface of how mobility can improve the way our teams work.

Demand will grow

The need to access information while on the move will only grow for a number of reasons.

Firstly, more and more people are working remotely. The classic ‘working from home’ is part of it, but it’s evolved well beyond this. In our global economy, you can really work anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. It could be at a remote work site, an interstate office, or a co-working hub, basically anywhere outside your physical office. Your staff will require access to IT systems, just like they were in the office, to enable them to do their work. In my opinion, this is a good thing. It doesn’t matter where you work, as long as you’re delivering the right outcome for the business.

The other major driver is the generational change we’re going through. The Millennial Generation, or Gen Y, are digital natives that don’t see the need to be tied to an office desk 9-5. Millennials will bring technology to the office and expect it to work. In fact, they’ll see it as standard business practice.

Gen Y might work less hours, but this doesn’t mean they’ll be doing less work. Whether it’s right or wrong, they will blur the lines between home and work. For example, they’ll expect their personal devices to work with your IT systems. Conversely, they’ll happily work outside 9-5 at hours that better suit their lifestyle. Regardless of whether we agree with these trends as business owners, the change is coming, and to employ the best talent we need to provide the right environment to attract it. It’s today’s reality.

Remove barriers to working remotely

While the demand for working remotely is obvious, there are still challenges.

The biggest challenge is still culture. Our working environment, for so long, has been built around the office as a central point, not only for work but also the social interaction with our teammates. While I don’t believe in the micro management perspective of having everyone within my eye line, human interaction is still important, and so I can certainly empathise with that point. Technology can help break this down, for example, look at how video conferencing is now so readily available through low cost platforms like Skype.

The fact is that the technology is already available, enabling your people to work wherever they need. The key to this is not only providing information to your people, but also delivering the same level of security as though they are working in the office on the normal IT network. While I understand the concerns around security, using the right technology can easily mitigate these, and will in fact improve your overall information security. The reality is that we all need to look at this to remain an attractive option for the best talent.

Make it work for you

From my perspective, focus on how you can make mobility work for you and your team. Make sure that access is strong, and that your team has the freedom to work in a way that is most productive for them, but still gives you the ability to control the outcome you need for your customers.

What does mobility really mean to you? I’d love to hear your feedback.