Smartphones and tablets have radicalised the way people access the internet. As a result, as business mobility improves further, the way people are working is changing too. It will not have escaped anyone’s notice that mobile is huge. In fact, according to Ericsson, by 2021 6.4bn people will be smartphone users – that’s 80 per cent of the world’s population. Mobile working is increasingly common, and many people are relying on apps on their smartphones for various parts of their daily lives – Digital Strategy Consulting reported that 60 per cent of employees use apps for work-related activities. The rise of flexible working Because of this new-found ability to access work on the go, there has been a rise in flexible and mobile working. It is more convenient than ever before for an employee to work from home, a café, or on the go while travelling to a meeting. There are apps which enable employees to access their emails remotely, share files and collaborate on projects with their colleagues all from a train, or anywhere there is access to WiFi. Previously, time spent travelling would have been lost as it would have been impractical for an employee to get anything done. In fact, iPass reports that companies gain an extra 240 hours of work per year from mobile working. How you embrace business mobility For small and growing businesses to get on board with mobile working, the first thing you’ll need is access to smart devices, whether that’s mobile phones, tablets or laptops. Many employees will have their own devices that they may be willing to use for work purposes, but if not it might be necessary to supply equipment. There are various apps and tools around these days that businesses can utilise – you can see some examples of communication and collaboration tools here, in a previous article in this series. Tools like Skype, WhatsApp and Slack enable staff to stay in touch wherever they are. Other tools that can be useful include things like Google Docs and Outlook 365, or really any cloud services that enable staff to store things online and work on them from anywhere they have an internet connection. Gone are the days when, if you’re not at your desk, you can’t access any projects. With the right tools, it really is possible to work from anywhere. The security risks of mobile working As with any business processes, it is important to consider the risks before diving in head first. Working from cafes and other public spaces opens devices up to risk of theft, which means losing data – and potentially confidential information. Using unsecured connections can also mean hackers can potentially gain access to every piece of information you share on the internet – that means credit cards, client details, emails, etc. In addition, an unsecured WiFi network can mean hackers can infect your device with malware. This does not mean you need to avoid any free WiFi connections when working on the go, just be aware of it. When possible, use a virtual private network (VPN) and always check the URL of a website is https, rather than http. Although there needs to be some risk assessment before a business adopts a mobile way of working, the advantages are obvious. With a few precautions, it can revolutionise the way a business works.
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