Half of London businesses allowed staff to work from home during London 2012. A third of those who didn’t make allowance for the Olympics saw a “significant” drop in productivity
It’s no secret that there was a lot of talk around the importance of remote working ahead of the Olympics. But was it a success? Did businesses cope? Research carried out post-Olympics suggests that businesses offering remote working were the clear winners, writes Manish Sablok, Head of Marketing, CNE Europe at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise,
The predicted outages and congestion during the Olympics – particularly in the centre of London – caused many enterprises to trial remote working schemes. But did they work?
According to research by remote working consultancy Portal, around half (48%) of London businesses allowed employees to work from home during the Games. And nearly two-thirds saw their business continue with little or no drop in productivity.
Interestingly, the research also found that 41% of respondents had invested in new technology, “allowing people to access email, video-conferencing and critical business systems”. On the flip side, the research from Portal found that just under a third of London businesses failed to make any plans for the Olympics, and over a third of those saw a “significant” drop in productivity.
The Olympic Games was just one event that demonstrated the power of remote working.
Understanding the needs of the individual
It’s often a misconception that remote working can be a time consuming, costly and cumbersome task, and so many didn’t prepare for it during the Olympics.
Yes, giving employees the option to work remotely can be a complicated process: as employees move further and further away from the office, they increasingly gain less and less access to applications via their mobile device. Some managers still believe employees lose productivity, are less collaborative and less engaged when away from the office.
But if companies can determine exactly which applications are needed by each individual employee, enabling access becomes a more tailored, streamlined and workable solution, and productivity levels can be maintained. In order to do so, companies need to assess each employee’s profile and the needs of each individual, in order to efficiently develop a remote working solution across their enterprise.
And cost effective technology is available. Enterprises need to evolve their networks and Unified Communication and Collaboration services to ensure that they can support remote working in the future. This will undeniably help in improving employee productivity and collaboration, and they are likely to be more engaged with their work and teams even if they are away from the office.
BYOD in your own Personal Cloud
Remote working is undeniably linked to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, with many employees opting to use their preferred devices. And the BYOD trend has become a clear indicator of something broader happening in the market – the advent of the personal cloud, where smart mobile devices and their associated apps are becoming more and more part of the enterprise communications space.
Consumers are increasingly synchronising their applications using cloud-based services, building their own ‘Personal Cloud’, that is providing users with a new level of flexibility with the devices they use for professional and private activities, ultimately enabling new levels of user satisfaction and productivity.
People continuously switch between devices, locations and tasks, and the increased flexibility and control required over these services is integral to any remote working strategy. By enabling the personal cloud, enterprises can enhance the productivity of remote employees. With the right approach to communications services, applications and network infrastructure, enterprises can strengthen and build on the initiative their employees have already taken to extend and augment their work capabilities, providing greater flexibility and mobility across the enterprise.
Life after the Games
Mobility is redefining the workplace as the borders between personal and professional, home and office, device and application disappear. Companies need to start to implement an effective remote working strategy in order to take advantage of this.
Research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) showed that 43% of companies that ran flexible working schemes during the Games, such as allowing staff to work from home or change their working hours, planned to continue to do so.
So for many organisations, remote working was one of many aspects of the Olympics that – to the surprise of some – was a real winner. And enterprises that continue to invest in such a strategy beyond the Games will be the winners too.