The challenges of a modern mobile workforce

Jenny Carpenter

The way people work is rapidly evolving. Ten years ago the ‘normal’ working practices were very different to how we work today.

Typically, people would work from a central office, or sometimes a branch office. Home working was something of a rarity (or at least a rather new thing), and usually the exclusive preserve of senior executives.

This is clearly not the case anymore according to a recent IDC report, “Rise of Mobility”, which states that over 37% of the global workforce will be mobile by next year; this equates to 1.3 billion individuals – a 30% increase since 2010.

While there are occasional reports of firms bucking the trend and heading back to a traditional office-based arrangement – Yahoo is a good example of this – the general consensus seems to be that remote workers are more content and more productive than those chained to a head-office desk. Furthermore, some countries, such as the UK, are enhancing the legal rights of employees seeking flexible working arrangements.

Whichever way you look at it, mobile working is here to stay.

Meeting the challenges

Some IT professionals probably look back wistfully upon those simpler times. When all the IT assets were in one place, they were arguably easier to manage. On top of that, we now have widespread use of cloud services, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, and a plethora of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Mobile working produces various challenges for IT teams, and although the focus is often on the phones and tablets, the use of laptop-style devices is also on the rise and should not be forgotten. Researchers predict that shipments of Ultrabooks alone will hit 178 Million by 2017, making this a faster-growing market than tablets, and arguably one more relevant to businesses of all sizes.

Managing laptops from a distance requires a rather different approach to looking after office PCs. For starters, they are inherently more at risk -both of theft and damage, and of potential security breaches and problems caused by user error or complacency.

Possible solutions

So, with all this in mind, it’s clear that network administrators need a solution that gives them the same kind of control and protection as desktop PCs.

Ideally this solution should have:

  • Strict user controls, to prevent issues like ignored updates, and to protect users from themselves when using networks that may not be completely safe.
  • Centralized administration, so that technicians can view the entire IT estate from one place, even if it’s not in one place.
  • Minimal need for user interaction, so that IT teams can perform as many actions as possible without disturbing the user with the need for a remote session.
  • Content filtering, so that users are subject to the same online controls whenever they use company equipment, even if they are doing so away from the direct prying eyes of IT and management.

Used effectively these types of IT management solutions make life easier for IT professionals.