The way we do work in the U.S. is changing dramatically. We’ve entered the era of the “anywhere worker,” and that’s started to change the way a number of industries operate — including IT.
What is the “anywhere worker”? According to Dialpad, the anywhere worker is a modern professional whose devices, connectivity, and working preferences give her or him the flexibility to work from almost anywhere; whether that’s a café, at home, or the airport.
Not all companies are ready to handle anywhere workers, but the trend toward remote work is growing dramatically, and IT functions need to be ready to incorporate that development.
Why the Anywhere Worker Exists
Why did the anywhere worker come into existence in such substantial numbers in the first place? Some of the primary reasons include:
- Remote systems and devices. Cloud-based software systems enable employees to gain access to data from nearly anywhere. Everything’s stored on a remote server, so workers can get to all the files and software they need to perform their job effectively. Even better, many employees have become accustomed to using smartphones, tablets, and other highly mobile devices for work, which increases their potential mobility even further.
- Constant communication. Nowadays, everyone has a smart phone in his pocket, which opens the door to dozens of communication modes, all of which transmit almost instantaneously. Phone calls, texts, emails, and IMs are just a few of the ways a company can reach its employees no matter where they are.
- Recognition of remote work benefits. There are also a number of peripheral benefits for businesses that are willing to let most or all of their employees work from home (or elsewhere). According to the Harvard Business Review, evidence suggests that employees who work from home end are more productive than their in-office counterparts. Whether that’s a direct effect of the environment change or more an expression of their desire to prove their effectiveness is unknown.
How the IT World Is Changing
So how is the anywhere worker shaping IT operations? Here are a couple of ways:
- Schedules and flexibility. First, anywhere workers allow for more flexibility and scheduling for your team, both collectively and on an individual level. For example, you’ll need IT professionals on call more often, perhaps even 24-7, but with multiple workers doing flexible hours, you have more room for accommodation. Plus, employees enjoy greater flexibility to labor during the hours they’re likely to be the most productive.
- Reduced costs. Having more people work remotely means the demand for office supplies and other physical expenditures could be significantly reduced. In addition, many employees end up using their own devices for work. The result is that you’ll pay less for your workers, and that might make it possible to charge your customers less as well.
- Better talent, better jobs. Opening your firm to any worker means you can greatly expand your potential talent pool. It also means employees can be choosier about where they work. The combined effect is that IT companies are getting better-suited employees, who are a better long-term fit for their teams.
How to Make the Most of the Anywhere Worker in IT
If your business is in IT, or if you just want to improve how your IT department runs, you can do a few things to make the most of this trend.
First, set up a good tracking system … without interfering with your employees’ privacy. If you’re letting your workers perform tasks from anywhere, you’ll need some kind of monitoring system to track productivity and take action if necessary.
Second, you’ll want to activate the new policies gradually. Shutting down the office and letting everyone work remotely on a full-time basis would be difficult and disruptive (and would probably blow up in your face). Instead, slowly and iteratively add the new rules and procedures.
Finally, pick the right people. If you’re going to let your employees work from anywhere, you might as well have the best possible talent on board.
The anywhere worker isn’t going away, and the sooner you plan for this rising business trend, the further ahead of the competition you’re going to be.