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Teleworking to be the norm sooner than expected

New technologies encourage employees to demand the ability to work remotely.

Due to today's increasingly agile workplace, decision-makers need to consider ongoing demands to support a remote workforce. There are several contributing factors to this phenomenon, most notably the emergence of cloud computing, mobile devices and other consumerization-related technologies. If organizations do not consider adapting to the constantly changing demands of their workers, they will find it increasingly difficult to keep individuals happy, hire new employees, and ensure operations are carried out productively and securely.

In many cases, employees will simply circumvent IT departments and deploy advanced technologies to support their needs in the workplace. This is especially true regarding the adoption of cloud computing and bring your own device, as individuals will likely use personal smartphones, tablets and other gadgets to access unauthorized clouds in the office, with or without permission. This has fundamentally changed how enterprises approach the evolving communications landscape.

Yet there are some trends that cannot simply be deployed without permission. The ability to connect to a business phone system remotely, for example, cannot be completed without authorization. This means that enterprises that have not yet embraced the teleworking trend force individuals to come to the office every day - something that not all people are content with doing anymore.

People want to work remotely

While there are numerous trends making headway in the enterprise, the need to connect to mission-critical applications and office phone systems remotely is among the most commonly demanded. A recent survey of 450 professionals by recruitment firm Ortus found that 90 percent of respondents believe flexible working, or the ability to customize schedules and work remotely, will become the norm for the business world in the near future. Another 96 percent of human resource employees said this operational model will be the main way organizations work in the future.

"These findings suggest that HR professionals have their work cut out for them in convincing staff of the relative merits of flexible working. The business case is obvious, as it allows for efficiency savings on office costs and greater output. However the benefit to the individual of a better work-life balance and less time and money spent commuting are perhaps surprisingly ranked low and maybe HR [needs] to convey this cost-effective - for the business - benefit in a more compelling way," said Stephen Menko, the U.K. director of Ortus.

When individuals are able to access the same phone system featuresas they would in the office, collaboration applications and other crucial business software from home or on their personal mobile platform, they tend to be happier, as this capability grants them a new level of freedom. This liberty enables people to carry out tasks from virtually anywhere at any time, allowing for a better work-life balance.

Interestingly, Ortus revealed that only a third of respondents said teleworking was something their organizations offered. Meanwhile, research has suggested that upward of 90 percent of enterprises entitle individuals with remote working capabilities, suggesting that there is a disconnect between dreams and reality.

The future of work is outside the office

As the mobile and cloud computing phenomena continue to transform the enterprise, the norm for operations will be to allow people to work from anywhere, regardless of the device being used.

"Widespread flexible working could be a seismic shift in the way work is conducted and it is that rare beast - a change that benefits everyone. Staff just need to be convinced of this point, or at least have it raised on their radar as a benefit they can request," Menko asserted.

A recent Jabra study of 1,000 employees found that the remote working trend is already catching on, as more than 80 percent of respondents said they regularly work from home or another location. Another 46 percent of individuals said they leverage a smartphone or other mobile device for corporate tasks, while 10 percent use enterprise VoIP systems for communications. These trends are shaping the business world forever, knocking down traditional boundaries that prevented people from working as they see fit.

Millennials are the employees of tomorrow and continue to introduce new demands to the enterprise, forcing executives to adapt or risk not being able to attract and retain workers in the coming years. Executives need to take these transformations into account and plan accordingly by replacing old phone systems and implementing more innovative solutions that can adapt to future changes.

As the need to support a remote workforce grows, decision-makers should also consider implementing cloud-based collaborative tools, as these solutions are flexible and adaptable enough to meet the evolving needs of the workplace. By planning ahead and working with a trusted service provider, enterprise executives can locate and deploy the tools they need to thrive in today's unpredictable work environment.