It perhaps goes without saying, but surely the optimal ambition for any business is for its IT operation to run as seamlessly, productively and securely as possible, both from the employee’s and employer’s perspective. How we judge this, and the lens through which do, has seen a dramatic shift caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The world of business and IT are suddenly very different; yet, as with any change there is opportunity. The outlook is in fact exciting, and the prompted change could deliver many advantages for employers and employees alike.
The pandemic and the disruption it is causing for nearly all workers has prompted businesses to respond, often just for survival, and they are changing more than just their business processes. Serving a new remote workforce has required IT departments worldwide to re-evaluate and fortify their infrastructures to be more flexible, collaborative, and secure.
The sudden shift to online operations has demanded an immediate response from businesses to introduce remote solutions that better support the working from home model.
However, countless businesses like yours are moving past the standard work-from-home models to a comprehensive Anywhere Operations (AO). There are both obvious and unexpected benefits of AO, from increased productivity, cost reduction, plus overall employee experience.
The recent huge shift in remote working has sparked renewed interest in Anywhere Operations, a concept which takes remote working one step further.
Businesses must now consider how their day-to-day operational processes can operate from anywhere on the planet. Analysts predict that by 2023, up to 40% of organisations will have adopted a hybrid-office model that supports workers based anywhere, doing away with commutes and standard 9-5 schedules.
What Is Anywhere Operations?
AO refers to an operating model that supports both customers and employees everywhere and manages business resources and services across distributed infrastructures.
This model goes far beyond being a stop-gap, work-from-home model. Instead, the design creates an environment for remote customer services and employee remote working that provides a quality experience, flexibility, and security.
AO focuses on five core areas. The first is creating an environment that enhances productivity and collaboration. Of course, a critical area of importance is secure remote access, which is in part, made possible by a combined cloud and Edge infrastructure.
All this serves to quantify the digital experience for customers and employees alike so that processes do more than simply continue as before, but are actually enhanced.
The final key is employing automation wherever possible to support remote operations so that work continues uninterrupted across time zones and beyond standard business hours.
Remote Working and AO
More than likely, working from home is here to stay. As employees embrace the concept, companies need to be more flexible when it comes to their business processes and the networks that support them. This means transitioning more services to the cloud.
Taking it a step further to a full Anywhere Operations AO model makes it possible to access and share data and applications outside the corporate network. As a result, employees and customers can access resources securely from wherever they are.
While the immediate goal may have been to ensure administrative processes continue uninterrupted, the positive results include increased collaboration and productivity across the spectrum of services.
Productivity for Workers
Past and current research suggests that employee productivity, regardless of the working platform, is driven by employee engagement and overall wellbeing.
While the sudden need to shift to remote work presented challenges, the resulting remote environments create a huge opportunity to connect employees through technology.
While video conferencing and document sharing tools have significantly aided in this area, the unsung hero is the underlying IT infrastructure that delivers those applications securely and with improved latency.
Cloud computing is a major player here, as is complimentary Edge computing technology. When combined, these tools make AO business models more than possible; they create a robust environment in which workers can collaborate and remain productive.
Cloud Computing Is Key
As companies adopted AO business models, migrating to the cloud becomes essential. The cloud model ensures that all necessary data, applications, and other services are centrally available 24/7 to accommodate a workforce with unique schedules. AO means that the workforce is operating from multiple geographic locations and time zones.
In addition, cloud services provide superior disaster recovery options, storage space, network flexibility and scalability, security, transparency, and resiliency. As networks expand in number and remote locations, cloud computing platforms allow businesses to keep up while keeping operating costs low.
Boosting Employee Experience (EX)
The AO model supports more than the work-from-home model in that it allows employees to work from anywhere while significantly improving the employee experience.
Initially, working from home meant working from a home office, part or full time, yet being physically located near the brick and mortar headquarters. AO allows employees to work from literally anywhere, while on travel, on vacation, or from their resident city or country of choice.
Because AO networks support mobile devices, employees can work and collaborate from just about any device with internet access, creating more time-saving flexibility and working environment options.
Because employees and assets now exist beyond the physical office perimeter and Local Area Network (LAN), AO demands enhanced security. The cloud solutions supporting AO feature fortified firewalls layer that provides secure remote access to all employees, customers, and clients.
In addition, cloud security contains configurable controls and technologies that protect its cloud-based systems, infrastructures, and valuable data. These cloud-based security measures also support compliance regulations, privacy guidelines, and authentication and user access protocols.
VPNs are another layer of security for the remote workforce. All these security features make it possible for AO employees to access the network anytime, efficiently, and from anywhere.
Productivity Benefits of Anywhere Operations
Employee engagement is a factor in productivity as well as employee satisfaction. Meaning, workers are happier and thus more productive. Working from a preferred location, whether that be home or elsewhere, boosts the employee experience.
AO employees also create less attrition. A professional may have limited opportunities in his or her local area. However, AO creates the opportunity for finding the right fit anywhere, matching employees to companies long-term.
On the other side of that coin, the organisation can tap into an almost limitless talent pool to find the best candidates for a particular position. They can match skills to roles without regard to location; employment can be a truly global experience.
The Anywhere Operations AO model is vital for business, especially now that COVID-19 has required people worldwide to rethink their office environments. Even when the world returns to its new normal, the business operations landscape will have forever changed, and for the better.
AO enables business services and processes to be accessed and delivered anywhere through countless remote environments. It shifts the operating infrastructure to digital so that just about all operations can be handled remotely to accommodate the modern workforce.
That’s not to say the physical office is vanishing. It’s merely become another physical location from which an organisation operates.