How to support agile working through purchasing

20 December 2013 | Phil Jones
Phil Jones is managing director at Brother UKMost of us use consumer technology at work on a daily basis. We check emails on our smartphones, use our tablets to join web conferences while on trains, and use our laptops to prepare for meetings in hotel rooms.
Agile working has naturally become a part of many businesses, which have embraced consumer technology as an easy and cost-effective way to work flexibly.
The benefits of agile working are well documented, from increasing productivity by making the most of ‘dead’ travel time, to enabling employees to have a better work/life balance.
But one of the biggest benefits of agile working is saving money. The Agile Future Forum initiative, which counts the likes of Tesco, Lloyds Banking Group and HM Treasury within its ranks, found that flexible working could cut costs by up to 13 per cent.
So how does this fit into the wider IT set up and how can you ensure best value with the increase in flexibility and choice offered to employees? How at ease businesses feel with employees working on smartphones or tablets is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It’s already happening. Businesses need to consider how to purchase the right technology to support this growing trend, to ensure they are working as efficiently as possible.
Businesses have looked to bring your own device (BYOD) to allow employees to choose their own devices to work on. Our own research showed that 40 per cent of businesses operate a BYOD policy already. This concept is increasingly moving towards a COPE model (Corporately-owned, personally enabled) to provide businesses with greater control of security and costs. This system also allows businesses to choose technology, which will complement their existing IT infrastructure.
Whether your business has chosen BYOD or COPE, it’s important to consider the peripheral technology in your IT set-up to ensure that employees can operate a genuinely portable office when out on the road.
Hardware such as mobile printers and scanners will ensure that employees have the same capability to work out of the office as they do when sitting at their desks. This portable technology is now compact and light enough to be carried in a briefcase, making it ideal for working on the go.
Web conferencing software, compatible with smartphones and tablets, will enable employees to communicate effectively, whether they are working in or out of the office, as well as work collaboratively on documents.
Business IT is becoming increasingly democratised, as users have the freedom to choose the technology they want to use in order to do their job best. Although this is great news for business productivity, there is a role for procurement professionals to ensure that value for money is at the forefront when purchasing IT systems to support an agile workforce.
Phil Jones is managing director at Brother UK
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