Work anywhere, anytime: The future of work or a step backwards?

In today’s world, the ‘work anywhere, anytime’ model is quickly establishing itself as the new normal for many businesses, as attested by some of London’s largest banks: Natwest, HSBC, and JP Morgan, who have all recently moved to a hybrid working structure, encouraging their employees to work from home where possible

Employees are keen for it to happen, with some even threatening to go elsewhere if demands for more flexible working hours and environments aren’t met.

As the economy opens up, staff are keen to retain one of the very few positive things to have arrived from the pandemic – an improvement in how and when we work.

83% of UK office workers agree that flexible working is here to stay, with many now expecting to be able to work wherever and whenever suits them best – from kitchen tables to family villas.

If implemented in the mainstream, it could lead to the end of the 9-to-5 as we know it, with employees working around their own schedule as long as the job gets done.

Of course, there is skepticism from some naysayers, especially those of which have vested interests and large investments in commercial property and who may stand to lose the most from such changes.

But the hybrid model of work has the potential to become a competitive advantage for UK businesses – as long as the correct infrastructure and practices are put in place to make it work.

Supporting such a highly fluid workforce creates a brand new set of challenges never seen before. So how can businesses create and support this new ‘anywhere, anytime’ workplace?

What does work anywhere, anytime actually look like?

The crucial factor of this new working model is trust. But as we know, employees everywhere have proven they don’t need to be watched to remain productive.

It took a global pandemic forcing everyone into their homes to open the eyes of employers, but there were even some employees that were reluctant to take the plunge on remote working.

Employers feared productivity would slip, while employees didn’t want to appear lacking in dedication to their career.

Fortunately, this scenario was proven wrong on both accounts.

Productivity has at the very least maintained its level from before, if not improved in some circles, while remote working options have been instrumental in reducing the stigma and career progression issues around maternity leave.

Employees went above and beyond during this period, but the genie is out of the bottle. Having proved that trust can be repaid, employees want to extend and add to the benefits of flexible working.

What are the challenges in supporting this model?

It is no longer necessary to restrict work to between the hours of 9 and 5, or even from Monday to Friday. But this itself causes issues for support teams.

In our recent survey, UK workers said they prioritise effectively communicating and collaborating with colleagues, with 31% saying the lack of ability whilst working from home has negatively affected productivity and motivation.

Faulty equipment and time to resolution are threatening productivity, so it’s clear that some time in the office – plus effective IT support- will be essential to the effective uptake of hybrid work.

To combat the challenges of providing IT support outside of the usual 9 to 5 business hours, some businesses are choosing to implement ‘virtual first’ strategies.

Here, IT support is virtual as standard, as the diagnosis of machines no longer needs teams to be physically on-site – difficult when most are now spread out across cities.

Virtual first strategies can also be seen in the implementation of smart lockers – a locker and vending machine-type solution able to provide replacement IT equipment, with files and data, backed up by the cloud, like the industry-leading solution from Velocity Smart Technology.

More importantly, as virtual and remote IT models have proven to cut the time to resolution for remote employees, it may be that we never have to wait for an IT support team ever again.

Is work anywhere, anytime truly the future of work?

The work anywhere, anytime model has already been embraced by a number of successful companies of varying sizes, all looking to reap the benefits of early adoption.

Spotify has also acknowledged that, “Having a flexible approach is a great advantage and jewel in our Talent Attraction crown”, while PwC announced what they call ‘The Deal’, which offers all of their employees the option to take up flexible working.

New working models shouldn’t just be a reaction to the pandemic, however. They should aim to outlast it, with a long-term aim of supporting employees and the business.

Without strategic planning, we risk losing the advantages of hybrid, flexible working while slipping back into our old habits.

The future has changed. We have to be able to constantly evolve how we operate if we’re to overcome new challenges and realise new opportunities.

About the Author

Anthony Lamoureux is CEO at Velocity Smart Technology. Welcome to the future of IT Support. Velocity Smart Technology is the home of Velocity Smart Cloud platform and its connected IOT for Enterprise devices including Velocity Smart Lockers and Smart Vending.

Featured image: ©Gorodenkoff