Although the idea of telecommuting has been around 30+ years, recent reports suggest that companies are slow to adopt flexible working policies despite the recorded benefits for workers health, psychological wellbeing and increased productivity.
From an IT perspective the ability to provide solutions for flexible working are well understood, and since the explosion of high speed broadband, pervasive wireless networks and highly capable mobile devices, it couldn’t be easier, however it is company policies and procedures, and often perception that might be holding us back. It should also be noted that a full-time telecommuter lifestyle can lead to isolation of the individual and makes it very difficult to manage and build teams and so a balance needs to be struck.
That said, it is our role as technologists to make it as easy as possible for organisations to adopt a flexible working strategy if they wish to do so. Solutions for accessing, downloading and modifying data remotely need to be simple for the user, but also need to maintain the security and integrity of such data so that organisations can trust this type of access. Ideally workers will access the most sensitive data from company-owned and controlled devices, but there may be other levels of access that can be considered from less secure devices, access to a calendar tool for instance. To achieve this the systems need to understand who is accessing, where are they accessing from, how have they authenticated and what type of device are they accessing from.
Teleworkers do not always work from home or hotels, but maybe smaller office locations that they can cycle or walk to. The ability to provide small branch office solutions, that give secured corporate levels of access can also be a key requirement of IT.
For the reasons mentioned above, and many more, companies will move to embrace and accept flexible working policies and IT professionals need to be ready to respond.