New legislation introduced by the government now entitles employees across the country to request the right to flexible working hours. As mobile technology like tablets and smartphones have become more advanced and Wi-Fi and 4G internet access are more widespread, employers now need to be ready for an explosion in mobile and flexible working, particularly given the current summer of sport.
Employees across the country are hoping to get out of the office to catch the remaining World Cup games, the Tour de France or the Commonwealth Games, while their employers still want them to be completely connected with the office.
Here are our top tips for coping with this summer's explosion in mobile working:
1. Invest in lightweight technology so employees aren't bogged down
A huge range of laptops, tablets and smartphones are now available that can easily enable employees to work flexibly and connect with the office while they're out watching sport. Ultra-mobility laptops, such as the Chromebook, with 11.6in to 13.3in screens, are bigger than a netbook and have a large enough screen to comfortably view detailed documents.
While tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab are even more convenient as they are small, lightweight and give instant access to internet and email with wireless and mobile internet capabilities.
2. Use the right apps to keep productivity high
There are a wide range of apps available that can make working out of the office during the summer of sport as painless as possible, and they don't have to break the bank.
Log Me In is a free app which enables employees to access their computer remotely via a mobile device, while travel organiser Tripit provides employees with access to their full travel itineraries and travel plans from wherever they are.
3. Make the world your conference room
Voice over IP (VoIP) technology enables employees to make phone calls over the internet and it is much cheaper than traditional fixed lines. It provides a flexible easy-to-use telephone system which allows individuals to receive all phone calls on one specific number.
This means employees can choose whether their desk, home or mobile phone rings depending on their location at the time. Skype is a free VoIP system where audio and video calls can be conducted over the internet at low or no cost.
Google Hangouts is another effective system for hosting virtual meetings over video conference call, including powerful tools such as screen sharing which enables employees to share the screen view with others on the call.
4. Keep mission-critical files safe by installing effective security
Many employers have been hesitant to let employees work remotely as they've traditionally felt that company data is less secure than it would be in the office. However, there are simple steps to follow that can vastly increase data security.
First, files must be backed up, and passwords must be set on all computers and documents. Second, cloud-based storage can prove an extremely wise investment that can save mobile workers a lot of time and stress while increasing security. The cloud securely stores everything a business would normally keep on a company server, online in a central location. Documents and files can be accessed from anywhere including the office, at home or in the local café.
Alan Ritchie is managing director for PC World Business