Top five locations for mobile working

Friday 3 May 2013

One of the most attractive features of Microsoft Office 365 is the ability to access desktop software packages such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint on a range of devices from any connected location. This has given professional people more freedom to choose how and when they work - and also take advantage of time during the working day when they find themselves away from the office.

Being off-site for a period of time no longer means the individual is unable to work productively, since they can access files and documents remotely. They may not be sitting at their desktop PC in the office, but the online experience is essentially the same. And as businesses attempt to keep up with their rivals and meet ever-increasing customer demands, this is proving vitally important.

So what are the mobile working options for Office 365 users? Does it matter where they are based anymore when it comes to work? Here are our top five locations for working away from the office:

At home

With employees now able to access their work files and documents remotely, it has never been easier to work from home. For some, this helps avoid a lengthy and costly commute - ensuring more of the day can be dedicated to productive work - and for others, it creates an opportunity to spend more time with the family. Either way, this is likely to have a positive impact on morale and engagement - and hopefully performance as a result.

Advances in home broadband mean the majority of professional people now have reliable internet services - whether via a fixed connection or Wi-Fi. Many people are able to access the web on a range of devices, including smartphones and tablets, giving them the flexibility to work as they see fit.

With people connected in their own homes, they are not only able to choose where they work but also when - there is no longer such a pressing need to stick to a rigid nine to five shift in many organisations. In many industries, customers have 24-hour demands, meaning it can be to a company's advantage to have employees working flexibly on non-standard shifts.

The train

Many professional people use trains on a daily basis, whether the London Underground or a regional commuter train to take them into the office. In fact, over the course of the year, they spend many hours going from A to B on the rail network - time which can perhaps be put to better use. While not every employee will be keen to get their smartphone or tablet out after a hard day at work - for some, the ride home is time to get half and hour's much-needed rest - others can use this period to respond to emails, organise their calendar, check over the work they have been doing or generally get ahead for the next working day. Some even take the opportunity to give a client a call - albeit to the annoyance of fellow passengers.

Many professionals choose to sneak in an extra 30 minutes' work on the way into the office as well, to make sure they are firing on all cylinders when they arrive. And mobile working on the train can also be useful during the day if people are travelling to meetings or to another company site elsewhere in the country. Providing they have the required connectivity, working on the train can be a great way of boosting employee productivity.

Away on business

Here's the scenario - you've been sent away on business to meet animportant client, and a new contract hangs in the balance. To stand the best possible chance of sealing the deal, you need all the relevant facts and information available to you, direct from head office. Historically, this would be a problem - particularly if negotiation was I involved or the situation was evolving minute-by-minute. The business traveller may be armed with a briefcase full of printed documents, and perhaps a rudimentary mobile phone, but other than that they may have been on their own.

But with advances in 3G mobile broadband and Wi-Fi, it is possible for remote workers to stay connected to HQ the whole time, and have continued access to key files, documents and information. This means they are able to view real-time updates, and remain on-the-pulse when they are working off-site. When meeting with clients they can be armed with up-to-date information housed on their organisation's network. In some instances, this could be the difference when it comes to sealing the deal.

Having access to Microsoft Office 365 also enables business travellers to make PowerPoint presentations, or set up a video conference back to the office. They may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their normal working base, but through the power of cloud-based technology, have the IT tools they require to get the job done.

A sun lounger

Holidays may not be a time for work as such, but some business leaders and employees just can't switch off. With a smartphone or tablet computer at their disposal it is easier than ever to stay in touch with the office. And while it may be frustrating for their partner and/or children, this can offer peace of mind to the professional, and also make it easier to cover the holiday period in the office.

In some instances, it may be crucial to participate in a client call or conference, despite being away from the office for the week. Equally, some emails may need a rapid response - putting them off until you come back in could prove costly for the organisation. So for some businesspeople, the opportunity to remain on top of their workload and in contact with the office is a major bonus. Not only does it take the pressure off the first Monday back in after the holiday, but it makes life much easier for everyone else in the meantime.

On the moon?

Perhaps working in space is a touch far-fetched for now, and unlikely to be realised in our lifetimes, but who knows what the future holds? Such has been the pace of technological innovation in the past few years that almost anything is possible - even lunar working could be feasible one day. Should man decide to colonise the moon, the availability of satellite broadband could make it possible to communicate and collaborate with colleagues in space. But we'll have to wait and see about that one.

Posted by Sarah Parish