Feature Article

October 01, 2013

Business on the Top, Party on the Bottom: Telecommuting and the Remote Worker Lifestyle

By TMCnet Special Guest
Maria Stockham, Sr. Enterprise Product Marketing Manager, BlackBerry

Working remotely has its perks. It provides employees flexibility in their schedules, more time to work without the added commute, and gives companies overhead reductions by freeing up office space. But recent studies have shown that there’s more to be gained from telecommuting, including improved employee attraction, retention and productivity.

The Society for Human Resource Management found that 58 percent of employers offer telecommuting as a flexible working benefit. But working from home is more than the ability to simultaneously change the clothes from the washer to the dryer and attend a conference call. The array of technology options available to current and prospective teleworkers is staggering, confusing and even intimidating. We’ve outlined a few suggestions on how to navigate through the menu of possible computing, connection, and collaboration devices and strategies before you make investments in resources to support your personal and organizational telework requirements.

So the next time you find yourself on a video conference wondering if your counterpart at a sister company is rocking the “business mullet”—sweatpants on the bottom, button-down on the top—know that your company is making the right telework investments.

Image via Shutterstock

1. Unified Communications and Collaboration on Mobile Devices

One of the most appealing features of a robust mobile device is the ability to provide the user with Unified Communications on a single hand-held, portable device that integrates various types of messaging—including voice, video, e-mail, chat and social feeds—as well as providing secure access to corporate data. Businesses are continuously evaluating their mobile computing strategies to make the most of investments in truly Unified Communications—as it can play an important role enabling their increasingly mobile workforces and delivering teleworking employees with familiar tools that also enhance efficiency, productivity and collaboration.

2. Mobilizing the Desk Phone

As more professionals are using mobile computing and telephone devices, it is useful to understand how to bring the traditional desktop office phone into an enterprise Unified Communications strategy. Reliable, affordable telecommunications tools exist today that integrate cellular and PBX-based telecom systems to create a single calling identity while preserving the privacy of smartphone users. From a company IT perspective, the ability to control a single calling identity allows the organizational ownership, while offering the flexibility employees demand.

The options vary depending on the installed PBX architecture, but popular implementations of this technology may incorporate Wi-Fi calling capability that allows smartphone users to connect through widely available and cost-effective campus enterprise or public hotspots.

By taking these approaches to integrate wireless and PBX-based telephony, enterprises can reduce or eliminate expenses by routing wireless calls through the organization’s existing PBX and maintaining a single identity through one number dialing. Additionally, employees are easier to reach when their smartphone can seamlessly receive calls made to their desk phone, no matter where they are. Thanks to single number availability, a salesperson located in Phoenix, Arizona can work from a beachfront porch in Wrightsville, N.C. What’s more—he doesn’t have to worry about roaming charges with the ability to make and receive calls over a Wi-Fi network.

3. Balancing Personal and Business on One Mobile Device

In an ideal world, a single smartphone or tablet can be used for work and personal purposes without compromising the security of enterprise content or the privacy of personal information. The challenge is that organizations need to secure, manage and control their confidential information assets that may be stored or communicated on these devices.

The good news is that technologies exist that are designed to separate and secure work and personal information on mobile devices so users can stay connected to the important people and apps in their lives. Whether users are managing their own devices or ones provided to them, peace of mind is achieved in knowing their privacy is respected while their sensitive work information is protected. Administrators can configure, secure, wipe, and interact over the air—keeping the organizational updates in the background for users, while employees can enjoy a work and personal experience on a single device.

4. Simplified Smartphone and Tablet Management for IT Departments

In this day and age, we cannot talk about workplace technology without mentioning BYOD—or Bring Your Own Device. To respond to this trend, new enterprise mobility management tools are emerging that allow IT system administrators, from a single console, to provision, audit, and protect smartphones and tablets that use various operating systems.

5. All-in-One Security for Peace of Mind

The many benefits associated with mobile computing for the users also open an organization’s information systems to remote access and security risks. Many organizations have strict security standards, particularly as they relate to smartphones and tablets. Choosing devices and applications that have the highest level of security built in, with IT controls that manage access and usability, is essential for any sustainable mobility investment. Especially in government, financial and other regulated industries, it is fundamentally important that teleworkers and their IT support staffs have the tools and flexibility to help mitigate security risks and balance the personal and professional use of mobile devices that access sensitive information and networks.

Maria is responsible for marketing the mobile Unified Communications and Collaboration portfolio as a Senior Enterprise Product Marketing Manager for BlackBerry. Maria is a full time telecommuter based in Minneapolis, Minn. She understands how technology can enable the successful proliferation of virtual, global teams comprised of members working remotely as well as the productivity and collaboration benefits it can provide. Her software industry experience spans over 10 years in digital imaging and telecommunications verticals.  With a degree from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, Maria has held various positions in Product Management as well as Product, Program and Channel Marketing.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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