Its not just a trend.

Thanks to Marissa Mayer’s new policy at Yahoo and Sheryl Sandburg’s recent leadership manifesto Lean In, there’s a great debate going on at the moment about company employees working from home instead of the office and women in the workplace standing up for themselves in order to advance their careers.  At first the two debates seem to fall on different sides of the fence, but at the root of it is how technology has allowed companies to build a workforce that does not necessarily need to show up to the office in order to be effective in their jobs.  And this therefore gives greater flexibility to women (and men) trying to juggle advancing their career, taking care of their family and personal happiness.

Maybe a Hybrid Solution is the Best Solution.

Sandburg’s personal success cannot be disputed, but if employees lean in, only to keel over on to the boardroom table out of fatigue, something is wrong. Managers ought to create the conditions to get the best work from all staff, not simply to extract the most work from a determined few. As software entrepreneur Prerna Gupta said in, most digital-age jobs require both creative collaboration and “unstructured time to think” implying a hybrid solution might be the best solution.

While Mayer’s blanket policy requiring all remote workers to show up at the office may contradict this notion, we should recognize that she’s a new leader of a company in need of drastic change.  It does not mean that working remotely isn’t effective, it just shines a light on the fact that it needs to be managed. Going mobile is reported to have increased employee productivity by 20% and there is no question it provides greater flexibility to manage a family life. Companies today are finding this flexibility is key to being able to quickly and efficiently service clients.

Be sure to consider your I.T. infrastructure.

Going mobile can certainly be more cost effective than ever with the right initial set up. This kind of change doesn’t happen overnight though and its definitely not a matter of just letting your employees work from home when they want.  At the core, you need a solid technology network that can support a mobile workforce, which should not be taken lightly.

With regards to your technology, consider the following:

  • Make sure your infrastructure can support a mobile workforce and you have a suitable VPN setup and licensing strategy.
  • Ensure your IT policies cover employee-owned equipment (either allow it with restrictions, or do not allow it), and enforce security, such as anti-virus software and firewalls.
  • Employ a workforce management tool to help coordinate business objectives and goal setting, and to manage employee relationships along the chain of command
  • Institute security measures from the company’s perspective, not the employee’s — limit employees to ‘need-to-know’ access to sensitive company data.
  • Ensure your IT policies address the dependence of home internet availability and speed.
  • Implement an organizational control structure to manage the issues experienced by a mobile workforce. For instance, what happens if one of your employees loses his/her smartphone? What company data was on it and how secure was that data? Can you remote wipe the device? Was data backed up and can you still access it?

Supporting a more mobile workforce can have a tremendously positive effect on your company’s bottom line, but there are real and pressing factors to consider when it comes to preparing your company for this kind of change.

Case Study

For years GCInfotech has employed a mixture of full-time and part-time employees, some who are in the office every day, all day, and some who only come in when needed.  Our latest addition, Ginny Wills, was brought in to lead the website development and online marketing efforts for the company. But it was only through providing her the flexibility that she needed to look after her small children that we were able to entice her to join us.  She works from home some days and in the office some days, depending on what’s going on, and now both GCInfotech and its clients benefit from her over 20 years of experience. She’s happier for it and our clients are better off because of it.

GCInfotech has experience in helping companies lay the foundation for these changes so let us know when you are ready to take the plunge. With the proper controls in place, the only way to go is up. Give us a call at 888.323.3066.