The work from home revolution

For some of us, working from home means simply working within the home environment with the ability to complete all the basic functions of being at your desk from the comfort of your own kitchen or living room. As a society, we are more connected than ever, and the ability to set up shop (both literally and metaphorically) anywhere is well within our reach. Ten years ago, when Work Wise Week began, working from home was enabled thanks to passable home broadband connections and around fifty thousand public WiFi access points globally. Today, there are fifty million WiFi access points globally – just take a look at the number of shops and restaurants advertising ‘free WiFi’ on your local high street. You never have to disconnect yourself from your emails and, far from this being a negative thing, it’s reinvented the concept of what ‘working remotely’ means and blown the possibilities for smaller businesses and self-employed workers right out of the water.

National Work From Home Day is designed to demonstrate that giving people the freedom to work from home can help save office costs, ease transport congestion and enable staff to manage their workloads more effectively. Working from home has long been recognised for its benefits, both socially and economically – whether this is helping those unable to tackle today’s often punishing commutes to pursue gainful employment on their own terms, or helping families work flexibly around children’s schedules.

With the rise of mobile, more people are becoming accustomed to using apps which help productivity, office collaboration and enable them to hold video meetings away from the office.

Our working lives have naturally developed and benefitted from this increased connectivity and being chained to a desk 9-5 has, to some extent, become a thing of the past. The increasing connectivity and speed of mobile networks – combined with the rising number of WiFi hotspots – means that many of us can carry all the trappings of an office with us in our pockets and set ourselves up to work anywhere.

Many different companies and professionals have latched onto the benefits of this new working style and it is opening up the way we work incredibly. Now parents have the option to adapt their work schedule around their families and the older generation can remain active in the working world without having to brave the commute.

For businesses, in particular SMBs, the advantages are significant as a physical base for employees is no longer a requirement. Bringing together a team online is now possible, not just by better WiFi but also by readily available remote access collaboration tools – video conferencing instead of meeting rooms, project management softwareinstead of person-to-person delegation, instant messaging tools to reduce email traffic. These tools can go further than the kitchen table of a remote workers’ home, and can power your nearest group workspace. These spaces are becoming more prevalent and are beneficial to the public due to improved connectivity in public areas.

This has an attractive proposition for the future workforce. We’ve seen that the tide is turning in terms of what drives today’s workforce, that work-life balance and flexibility is becoming more important than ever. The ability to offer more flexibility to employees at all life stages is critical for smaller businesses when trying to retain the best talent in a sea of larger companies. Size often dictates agility and if you extend that agility to your workforce it becomes a serious asset.  Small companies can find talent worldwide, without the drawback of location, due to the ability to work anywhere.

This freedom from a desk also equals freedom from four walls, giving today’s SMB owners and founders the ability to redefine their purpose and their driving forces. However, it is important not to dismiss the traditional office. The rhythm of 9-5 and the ritual of the daily commute have a certain accepted status and are unlikely to completely die out anytime soon. Yet, these new alternatives available to businesses and employees reap benefits for all, to help ensure a proactive and empowered workforce.

From Andrew Millard, Senior Director, International Marketing, Mobility Apps at Citrix