Cloud and collaboration tools making telework a reality

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Telework has become an increasingly viable possibility for more enterprises with the emergence of advanced document collaboration and unified communications (UC) solutions. As cloud computing has made many of these solutions more affordable and accessible for many organizations, these firms are able to support productive remote working for significant savings.

A recent Rackspace survey revealed that over three-quarters of business think mobile services will soon be the standard means through which employees access IT systems for work purposes. As a result, 59 percent of firms are investing heavily in new mobile work apps over the next year, with a key focus on document management (67 percent), expenses management (52 percent), customer relationship management (45 percent) and VoIP (30 percent). Rackspace concluded that a major driver of this demand for mobile work apps is the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. As more employees depend on smartphones and tablets to communicate, these devices will play a major role in enterprise mobility going forward. In order to integrate and manage the connection of differing devices to the corporate network, UC and the cloud are both crucial considerations.

"There is no doubt that cloud computing is enabling a more flexible workplace using a range of devices," said Brian Nicholson of the Manchester Business School. "With our reliance on the PC declining, the onus is on the businesses to deliver their IT services in a format that enables staff to access corporate cloud apps from any devise or location."

A major reason for this growing focus on mobility and telework, Rackspace noted, is that these initiatives can minimize office space needed, reducing associated storage costs by an average of $320,000 a year.

New features, new capabilities
Business 2 Community contributor Chelsi Nakano explained that business collaboration tools have come a long way, providing more simplified interfaces and seamless integration with existing systems. She noted that document storage and security have advanced significantly, and popular business calendar services now offer a mobile version. Nakato revealed that IBM Social Computing Evangelist Luis Suarez believes telework has become an inevitability as a result of these advances.

"Nowadays with the emergence of all of these social software tools like blogs, wikis, activity streams, as well with social bookmarks and tagging and podcasting," said Suarez, according to the source. "That whole range of collaboration is richer than ever, so people have got an opportunity now to decide and negotiate how they're going to collaborate. And do it virtually."

With proper integration, collaboration platforms can transform remote working by enhancing colleagues' access to information and allowing them a new level of flexibility outside of the office.

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