Mobile working, in the context of this guide, is about employees being productive away from what we traditionally consider to be ‘the office’. As such, it can cover a wide range of physical locations and situations: working while travelling; with clients in their own offices; with clients at neutral locations; away from the office at fixed locations such as conferences; when on medium- and long-term assignments; and at home.
Several elements must come together to facilitate a mobile working solution: back-office IT infrastructure, Internet connectivity, operating systems, applications and the mobile devices that actually deliver the services to employees. All of these elements must be carefully chosen to fit the specific business tasks required of them, and must appear as transparent as possible to the mobile workforce. Meanwhile, back at the office, there will be particular challenges for IT staff in designing, deploying and supporting mobile working solutions.
Many different types of activity can be undertaken while away from the office. You might, for example, deal with email, generate and give presentations, gather data from clients, write reports or generate other documents, manage your calendar commitments and contact records, produce quotes or process invoices.
Mobile working is not confined to the typical notebook-toting businessperson. Tablet PCs and handheld computers can be used by health professionals, warehouse workers checking stock control levels or delivery drivers finding routes in conjunction with a GPS receiver, for example. More generally, with the right back-end IT infrastructure in place, both handhelds and smartphones can become valuable business tools with wireless access to enterprise applications and data.
This guide examines the technologies that allow employees to be productive when out of the traditional office environment. Its aim is to provide an overview of what's available and suggest ideas if you need to specify a mobile working solution for your company. Not every technology will suit every business, and different combinations of the available technologies can be utilised to good effect in different situations.
The mobile market moves quickly, and any implementation needs to keep at least half an eye on the future. So we will cover the key emerging technologies as well as existing solutions.
Connectivity, and particularly wireless connectivity, is central to mobile working, so we will cover this area in some detail. Increasingly important too is home-working and working from clients’ offices, and many of the technologies we examine can be used in both of these situations. However, we won't look at technologies for within-office mobility -- 'hot-desking' using thin clients or blade desktops, for example. While in a sense these are mobile working technologies, they relate to a fixed and delineated physical space.