This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
As this year's long, cold, harsh winter extends its icy reach into spring, Canadians in much of the country will have to contend with more of the extreme weather conditions that have wreaked havoc on our daily commutes for months. And this year's summer commute promises to be almost as gruelling, as construction crews block lanes to fix all those potholes. Between that and trying to carve out some family time amid our extra-busy lives, one thing is certain – we could all use more flexibility at work.
Thankfully, about 90 per cent of organizations now allow some form of mobile work, whether on smartphones, tablets or laptops, according to a global survey of 1,700 senior IT decision makers in 17 countries, including Canada, that my company commissioned. Employers are realizing that when there is no plan to create a flexible work environment, it can lead to resentment, unwanted stress and loss of productivity.
Planning and implementing a mobile work strategy and enacting a mobile policy will guarantee that a company's critical operations continue no matter whether the business interruption is personal or a curveball from Mother Nature.
Here are a few best practices that organizations should keep in mind when developing a mobile strategy:
Enact a mobile policy
The idea that every employee is required to be in a physical office every day is not conducive to our modern, always-on lifestyles. A mobile strategy gives employees the freedom to work on the device of their choice from the location of their choosing. Antiquated policies that champion a traditional office setting can result in people being less productive, whether at work or in their personal lives. To increase adoption, a mobile policy should be designed with input from not only the IT department, but also from human resources, legal, other lines of business, – and employees themselves.
Build a business continuity plan
A continuity plan is imperative to the success of your business operations and will protect your data in the event of an emergency as well as allow room for life's little interruptions. Having data in the cloud and being able to securely access it from various locations will ensure work can continue during a disruption, whether it is large or small. The single most important part of a continuity plan is to not wait until something happens before building a plan. Plan today to protect your business for tomorrow.
Security is key
Although allowing employees to work freely from a device or location is wonderful in theory, it is imperative that companies maintain security and set boundaries, as it's not uncommon for employees to access applications from multiple devices. By working closely with the IT department, organizations can securely deliver access to company applications and data while retaining the ability to secure, control and remotely erase corporate data on employee-owned devices. This is helpful in the event of a security breach, if the employee leaves the organization or the device is lost or stolen.
Access to e-mail does not equal working remotely. Leverage technologies such as enterprise data sharing, meeting and collaboration services and virtual desktop infrastructure. VDI allows companies to take advantage of workshifting by ensuring employees have secure access to their applications, their data and quite possibly their entire desktop, whether they're accessing it on a tablet, a laptop or a smartphone.
Technology is available that can make employees just as productive away from the office as they are when they are in a traditional office setting. If you haven't begun to explore your options, now is the time to do so.