With HMRC and Brent Council both announcing plans this week to extend measures to enable employees to work remotely using smartphones, tablets, and mobile applications, teliqo’s Russell Lux sees encouraging signs in the way that the UK public sector is embracing technology to solve the increasingly prevalent problem of having to achieve improved results with diminishing resources.
Brent Council will benefit from a deal with a major mobile network to support mobile working by providing employees with constant availability. Staff will be contactable on any Internet-enabled device through a single phone number, and a single comprehensive package of minutes, texts, and data will ensure they never need worry about running up excessive bills for themselves or their employer. HMRC, meanwhile, is equipping its mobile field workers such as VAT inspectors with iPads as part of a pilot scheme to gauge productivity gains before rapid wider roll-out as it aims to reduce annual operational costs by over £900 million.
Lux, Commercial Director at bespoke cloud-based telephony provider teliqo, believes that the potential benefits to workforce productivity of increasing employee mobility and availability greatly outstrip concerns about the cost of implementation and should be adopted more widely across both public and private sector organisations. “Many organisations may worry that facilitating mobile working schemes would be prohibitively costly, with the investment in infrastructure and the devices themselves. But they forget that the positive impact on productivity of knock-on effects like reduced staff travelling time, reduced use of paper, and constant availability to colleagues and customers will more than compensate. And it is not just the public sector that can reap the rewards – private sector organisations are also having to tighten their belts, and encouraging mobile working is a great way to help make best use of their resources,” Lux said.
Another common objection to widespread implementation of mobile working has concerned the security of the sensitive data that would be stored on, worked on, and transferred between employees’ mobile devices. But Lux points to recent developments that should ease any fears that organisations have: “CESG, the information security branch of GCHQ, conducted a review last year that found Apple’s iOS6 operating system to be secure enough to handle restricted government data, and the government is currently adjusting its rules to widen the range of devices cleared for mobile working schemes. As the way we work, and the demands of employers and customers, change, mobile devices and their software are evolving to meet organisations’ new requirements,” he said.
“Where not long ago the stereotype of public sector organisations was of large inefficient bodies resistant to change and entrenched in old-fashioned ways of doing things, now the reverse is true – economic pressures have seen the public sector emerge as an innovator that is leading the way in adopting new technological approaches to improving productivity. Organisations in the private sector facing the same challenges should take note,” Lux concluded.