Contrary to predictions otherwise, many companies still marginalize flex work as a fleeting trend, oblivious to the direct impact it’s already made on businesses everywhere. The ability to work where you want and when you want is now a necessity for all types of workers—workers in the field, business travelers, employees catching up after office hours—pushing workplace technology to support new levels of mobility and flexibility.
The Rise of Remote Working
By 2050, 73 percent of MBA respondents in a survey believe work will mostly take place from remote locations, according to BusinessBecause. In fact, Emma Plumb, Director of the 1 Million for Work Flexibility movement, suggests that flex work may be so prevalent in just 10 years that the term will be redundant.
At the center of flex work’s major growth is technology. As Sara Sutton, Founder of 1MFWF, pointed out on PGi’s blog, flex work will help guide the evolution of workplace technology just as technology sustains and shapes flex work.
The Impact of Flex Work on the Future of Business Collaboration
Flex work has had a major impact on technology and business trends, loosening work from the binds of location and time. Take a look at two trends driven by telecommuting: “anywhere-ization” and asynchronous collaboration.
Right now, we are witnessing the growth of a mobile workforce, where work is no longer limited to an office, desk, or computer.
BYOD (bring-your-own-device), BYOA (bring-your-own-apps), and cloud collaboration are molding a new, virtual workplace where work can happen anywhere. Flex and in-office workers alike have the ability to store and swap files, manage team projects, and meet using any device.
However, 83 percent of IT managers say 24/7 access is currently one of the biggest threats to the security of corporate networks, according to a BT survey report. In the future, technology supporting worker mobility will feature enhanced security and control for a more consistent user experience and better employer control over data.
Worldwide, 10 million knowledge workers regularly coordinate with team members across time zones, according to a BBC Capital article by Renuka Rayasam. Amidst globalization, collaborating in real time (or synchronously) becomes a challenge, so dispersed workers increasingly rely on asynchronous, or near-time, communication to collaborate outside the limits of time.
In addition, work flexibility and the recognition of individual workstyles increases the need for options when it comes to collaboration and teamwork. Workers are realizing that email, the most traditionally used form of asynchronous collaboration, does not meet the needs for efficiency and productivity, and so new ways to asynchronously collaborate will emerge in the future of work. For example, team workspaces already offer alternatives to email with shared spaces to upload files, respond to updates, and track projects, all on each worker’s own time.
Naturally, the future of work and business collaboration will be shaped by who’s doing that work, and the overwhelming evidence shows that by and large it will be telecommuters, freelancers, contract workers and other types of flex workers molding the way we work.
Learn about more emerging business collaboration trends—including The Workplace of Things, Big Data and Convergence—in PGi’s free eBook: Download your free copy of The Future of Business Collaboration 2015 Edition to see what industry experts have to say from Edelman, PGi, AirWatch® by VMWare®, Central Desktop, and Frost & Sullivan.
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