“Flexibility” isn’t just a word you hear around the yoga studio these days. It’s also becoming one of the biggest buzzwords in the business world. Whether you’re discussing employee flexibility (telecommuting, flex hours) or client flexibility (portal access, self-service ticket creation) it’s a term that comes up often... but tends to make managers a bit weary. For some organization leaders, the thought of having employees working from home can be anxiety-inducing. After all, are they really working or are they just playing hide-and-seek until someone gets caught? And on the client side, giving them control to do things like create their own tickets or log in to a portal to check project status can be unnerving - what if they “mess something up” or start going crazy creating billions of tickets that overload the system?
Luckily, there are quite a few ways to provide flexibility to your employees and clients by leveraging technology and keeping everyone happy. In this post we’re going to discuss ways that technology can provide your employees with the flexibility and freedom they want, while providing your organization not only with peace of mind but also a few possibly unforeseen benefits.
A Flexible Worker is a Happy and Productive Worker
In many cases, organization leaders think that having employees work from home only benefits the employee. After all, they’re able to work from the comfort of their home office/kitchen table/couch/[insert other comfy place here], while saving time and money on their commute. They also have the freedom to run out and do a quick errand like walk the dog or have their favorite TV show on in the background. Where, exactly, is the benefit to the organization?
Well, for starters organizations that offer a flexible work environment have happier, more engaged employees. Additionally, employees typically recognize that they are being given a privilege, and they don’t want to mess it up, so they tend to be diligent about responding to emails quickly, answering their phones, and getting projects completed on time. In fact, according to Monster, 70% of managers reported that productivity increased when employees were allowed more flexibility.
There can, of course, be downsides to allowing employees to telecommute and one of those is a loss of efficiency. When employees aren’t all together under one roof it’s possible that processes could lag - a sales rep can’t just get up and walk over to their manager to get something signed, they’ve got to send an email and wait for a response. Technology, however, is helping to bridge those gaps and reduce the lag time. SaaS applications like Slack and Google Hangouts allow employees to have real-time conversations with file sharing, while services like Join.me provide robust screen sharing options. For employees that work from both home and the office, virtualization software will allow them to seamlessly access their work environments to provide a sense of continuity.
The Security Risks of Working from Home
Another potential downside is the risk of a data or network breach. Whether your employees are using company-issued equipment or personal devices to conduct business, it’s important that your organization has a strong network security and data protection plan and policy in place. All workstations, be they desktops or laptops, should be running a reliable antivirus software and should be setup to automatically download and install updates and patches. Two-factor authentication should also be required on all devices to ensure that the employee is the only individual accessing the information. This will ensure that when working from outside the office your employees aren’t inadvertently opening your organization up to threats.
One of the best ways to ensure that your organization’s technology is ready to keep up with a more flexible lifestyle is to work with a trusted technology advisor. Click here to download our whitepaper, What To Expect When You’re Expecting… IT!, to learn more about working with an outsourced IT provider.