Remote working began as an innovative solution for businesses wanting to run a more agile operation. However, does this added flexibility raise as many problems as it solves? Issues around data security, staff efficiency, and remote connectivity are putting pressure on business owners and IT providers to develop and provide technology which prevents these concerns from damaging profits.
Flexible remote work policies are increasingly being crucial to attracting talent in the modern workforce. But there are a few major companies such as IBM that believe the trend of letting employees work remotely is over and famously insisted their employees come back into the office.
However, these examples illustrate the conflict between the traditional way of doing business and the more agile and collaborative way forward as we enter the digital transformation of everything. The average office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes during their workday. These distractions are one of the biggest reasons why remote working has flourished in recent years. But, how will this evolve and what remote working trends can we expect in 2018.
- 90% of businesses will migrate to the cloud in 2018.
It’s been a key buzzword in recent years with more and more businesses migrating to a cloud computing solution. The flexibility, cost savings, and security associated this option make it increasingly attractive. The solution means that businesses can work more flexibly and wave goodbye to expensive local systems.
As people are becoming more aware of the benefits, they are now actively comparing what’s on the market. In 2018, we’ll see an increase in businesses scoping out what’s available and moving between providers. We’ll also see an improvement in security measures to mitigate risks to cloud computing.
- Customer experience will continue to dominate business agendas
Customer experience will only become more critical as we move into 2018. User journeys will be scrutinised as businesses strive to please customers and ward off competition. In a recent survey, 55% of people said they would shop elsewhere following a bad customer experience - get this wrong and it could prove extremely detrimental.
AI will come into the spotlight over the next year as consumers become more comfortable with digital brand interaction. This will also enable businesses to stay connected to their customers remotely. A study by Oracle predicted that 80% of brands plan to implement chatbots by 2020 with 36% already using them.
- Security vs. the Internet of Things
With the number of Rransomware attacks significantly on the increase in 2017, it’s no wonder that businesses are reviewing their current protection. Cloud security will also come under scrutiny in 2018 as some of the major players will be pitted against each other to find the most trusted supplier.
Another key trend in the security arena will be the challenges posed by the Internet of Things.
Personal data can be put at risk thanks to default passwords and poor communication methods. Providers will be continuing to respond to these challenges to mitigate risk.
- 5G gets £16 million in government funding
Armed with the goal of placing the UK at the peak of 5G innovation, the government will fund its development next year.
This will pile pressure on service providers to move fast with technology. 5G will be on the rise in 2018 - but don’t expect this to be an instant thing. Services will begin to appear over the next year, providing double the speeds of 4G - a dream for remote workers across the country!
- Unified communications will help boost productivity
Over the past year, there has been a significant rise in the number of businesses turning to cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) solutions. This is because the technology provides users with substantial cost savings and flexibility.
Video integration will continue to be a key focus for many businesses who no longer focus solely on voice requirements. Flexible working now means that there’s more need for video technology to be integrated into UC systems so employees can dial into meetings remotely. This means that UC suppliers will be under increased pressure to provide seamless video options.
- Coworking spaces and hotdesks
The days of sitting at the same desk next to the same colleagues for ten years are disappearing and only encourage people to work in silos rather than collaborate across teams. With everyday office tasks completed at home in the quiet of their own homes, businesses will even begin to question the size of their office space and expensive running costs of refreshing hundreds or thousands of laptops, desktops, and monitors.
The modern office should enable staff to walk into the building, pick a generic laptop from the shelf and choose a hotdesk for the day. Rather than being shackled to a single desk and computer, they can now work safe in the knowledge that everything they need will be ready and waiting for them in the cloud. Any device, in any location at any time will become the expectation of every employee.
For some this new way of working will feel quite isolating and they will naturally miss the social aspects of corporate life. The rise of coworking spaces is increasingly offering an alternative for those that enjoy meeting like-minded professional people in a new environment where they can share ideas seamlessly across multiple industries. In a digital age where even coffee shops are being dubbed ‘The Coffice’ its becoming quite apparent that corporate life is evolving
- Slack mastermind groups and Microsoft Teams
Slack has become a lifesaver for many remote workers struggling to adapt to working in isolation. Remote workers often congregate and share ideas around public Slack groups for those working alone or even managing collaboration between small teams.
As business communication continues to evolve, the launch of Microsoft Teams is already starting to bring digital messaging services and voice and video calls together. The reality is that all communication is migrating away from using telephone infrastructure and will be managed over the internet instead.
To sum up, remote working has had a significant impact on the IT and telephony industry. Solutions are being continually tailored to meet ever-changing requirements as we approach 2018. This is showing no sign of slowing and it is essential that businesses take advantage of the growing choice of products and providers to best serve their needs.
However, as remote working continues to evolve, it is equally important to understand these changes to the employment landscape are not just about technology. Ensuring that your teams remain engaged and continue to collaborate when away from the office should also be a primary focus of any remote working strategy.