Advice & Guides

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Only a few years ago the term 'remote working' produced an image of employees taking advantage of being out of office, but we’re seeing more organisations implementing solutions that are enabling their employees to work from different locations with increased productivity.

So what has prompted this change in perception? And what does an organisation need to do to successfully implement such an initiative?

Canon recently commissioned an independent pan-European study of 1,671 employees to help understand how working practices are evolving across Europe. The resulting Office Insights report looked at a number of issues from document management to data security.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll discuss three key insights that this report offers into remote working behaviours: the remote working state of play, the value of cloud and connectivity, and the value of bring your own device (BYOD) policies. I’ll also offer some tips for SMBs wanting to get ahead of the game and implement a flexible approach to working.

The remote working state of play

According to the study, compared to just a few years ago, the amount of European office workers that work remotely has increased by 30 per cent, and the number is expected to increase further as more organisations take the time to understand the benefits. Some of the most obvious advantages include increased productivity and reducing costs on expenses such as travel and office space – benefits that are enticing to both workers and senior management.

Although the advantages are becoming clearer, in reality many organisations still believe that the initiative brings a number of logistical challenges. These include securing remote access to documents and emails, and providing the functionalities for collaboration. It’s apparent that many organisations are still struggling to overcome these challenges and provide their employees with remote access to documents and the technology to enable them to work seamlessly on the move. Where it is a possibility, organisations then fail to effectively support their employees, with many lacking policies or clear guidelines to advise them on how to get the most out of remote working. This means a number of employees are unaware of how technology can benefit their work and need to be trained.

The report also outlined a clear need for organisations to provide their employees with the right tools to enable working on the move. Although more than half of employers provide their staff with laptops, only a minority are equipped with smartphones (20 per cent) or tablet PCs (nine per cent). This is despite the fact that those already using them believe they are critical in enabling them to do their job and help to increase productivity, as they can continue to work when away from their desks; either on the move or in meetings. Depriving employees of access to these devices has a significant impact not only on employee’s productivity, but also, both in the short- and long-term, on the organisation’s performance.

What you should be doing

In order to successfully implement remote working in an organisation, small business owners must follow a simple cyclical process. Primarily, there’s a need to review their organisation’s current document policies and working processes, including security accessibilities and business opportunities. This will help to identify any existing weak spots and establish where mobile and remote working can help.

What’s more, small business owners must ensure that their employees are educated on their technology’s mobility features, policies and security, and best practise when it comes to creating, storing and digitising documents to ensure maximum efficiency across the organisation. This will help ensure that available technologies are being applied and utilised to the benefit of the entire business.

Francis Thornhill is European & UK marketing manager at Canon Europe.

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