22/08/2014

By Alan Ritchie, Managing Director at PC World Business


It’s been an incredible summer of sport so far. Wimbledon was a rollercoaster with early exits for Nadal and Murray, the World Cup was one of the most exciting tournaments in ages and a spectacular win for Germany, and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. As such, it’s understandable that some staff want to get out of the office to catch as much of it as possible.

New legislation introduced by the Government now entitles employees across the country to request the right to flexible working hours, including mobile working. Here at PC World Business we’re expecting to see an increase in mobile and flexible working requests from businesses as employees try to catch as much sport as they can. Employers shouldn’t need to balk at such requests, advances in mobile technology and Wi-Fi and 4G access mean they can ensure they fulfil their employee’s requests while still keeping them completely connected with the office.

A huge range of laptops, tablets and smartphones are now available that 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 11.6 to 13.3 inches 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.

It’s not all about hardware though. A wide range of apps are available that can make working out of the office during the summer of sport as painless as possible, and they don’t all have to break the bank. LogMeIn 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. Other great free business apps include note-taking system Evernote, which enables staff to save their best ideas with note-taking, voice recording and photo storage, social media tool Buffer which allows staff to automatically post to multiple social media accounts simultaneously, and administration tool Docusign, which enables users to securely sign and send documents from any device while on the move.

Voice over IP (VoIP) technology enables employees to make conference calls by making phone calls over the internet – which 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, including powerful tools such as screen sharing which enables employees to share the screen view with others on the call.

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.