Companies are taking flexible-work and work-from-home policies to the next level. Armed with smartphones and laptops, users are leaving the office to become digital nomads. Will the rise of anywhere working put IT support teams on the endangered list?
According to new research by Polycom, nearly two-thirds of the global workforce takes advantage of anywhere working. This is a significant increase from the 14% who reported in May 2012 that they work remotely. The freedom and flexibility that comes with this shift is benefiting employees and employers alike. But the insidious change that comes with the increase of anywhere working is that when employees are sitting in a home office, it’s more tempting than ever to reach for a personal device when they are doing their work.
If IT isn’t proactive about soliciting the communication needs of the business and implementing a solution to meet those needs, then users will do so themselves. And IT organizations know well the risks of shadow IT – security, economies of scale, and IT’s ability to effectively support these rogue technology investments.
“It’s important that full-time remote employees have access to the right technology to do their job. Whether it’s hardware or software, no employee should be left to fend for themselves in procuring the right equipment. An investment in hardware or software will ensure the company has direct ownership of the technology; and for security purposes, it ensures that employees aren’t using personal equipment to do company work,” writes Kavi Guppta for Forbes.com.
One of the technologies employees that are working anywhere tend to seek out is video conferencing. Without a proactive roll-out from IT, users may use consumer-grade video solutions like Google Hangouts or Facetime to connect face-to-face with peers and managers. These solutions are neither secure nor reliable, and may, therefore, increase helpdesk tickets. A lack of standardization across the company also means that IT has to support multiple products.
A company-wide rollout, however, makes it easier to keep users happy and business humming. You can provide support documents and how-to videos that circumvent tickets, for example. Furthermore, giving remote users access to the same platforms in-office employees use reduces the number of products you have to support and streamlines user training.
Despite the plethora of free and low-cost solutions available on the market, it is worth investing in a business-grade video conferencing solution, and IT is best positioned to vet and select such as solution. IT should work with a recognized video leader that openly integrates into your technology ecosystem as opposed to proprietary solutions that don’t create the right user experience. This will allow you to leverage best-of-breed solutions that interoperate seamlessly with your legacy systems.
Integration also allows for familiar user workflows. When scheduling a video conference with a remote employee follows the same workflow as scheduling a meeting in the conference room down the hall, adoption escalates quickly. It will also help ensure that video can be integrated into key business functions, like human resources, customer service—even IT.
“Video conferencing makes it easy to deliver support to our users over any distance. It doesn’t matter where users are working, support specialists can see the problem they’re having and walk them through the solution in real time. Users are happier with the support they receive because it’s personal, and we’re better able to fix their problem the first time we talk,” says Scott McCool, Polycom.
With anywhere working and the subsequent rise in the impulse to BYOD, IT organizations have even less visibility into and control over workstations, as employees can literally be working from anywhere at any time. The IT support team is more important than ever to this new way of working and must look for innovative ways to connect with and manage the technology that anywhere workers are using. A business-grade video collaboration solution can help meet everyone’s needs by not only helping employees stay connected but also facilitating the delivery of technical support.
To learn more about the rise of anywhere working, download the research report from Polycom, Global Anywhere Working.