Cordless and wireless business applications

by Colin Bryant, TelecomsAdvice

The way we work is changing fast; moving away from the traditional, static office structure towards an increasingly mobile and flexible workforce. A recent MORI survey undertaken on behalf of Orange revealed that almost half of UK workers outside manufacturing considered themselves to be flexible workers. That is, workers who conduct business outside the conventional single office environment.

Wirefree working is a term Orange has developed to help define and explain this fundamental change in working practices that has really begun over the last five years or so. It is a broad concept, taking in such flexible working options as hot-desking, teleworking and mobile working.

Wirefree working is doing business outside the traditional office environment, whether as a member of a "virtual" team scattered around the globe, as a salesperson on the road without a fixed office, or as a teleworker who works from home some or all of the time. In the most fundamental sense, however, wirefree working is about freedom. The freedom to do business - whenever, wherever and however we choose.

The implications of this new and fast moving trend are vast. In ever increasing numbers, workers are required to operate effectively outside the bounds of a traditional office environment. They are expected to do business independent of place. For wirefree working to be effective, a new mode of thinking is required, examining everything from office space, to management style, and of course, communications.

What will the wirefree office look like?

Although futurologists have a habit of predicting that everyone will work from home in the future, most of us will still come into work most days. But the office we come to may look very different, and be a much pleasanter place in which to work.

There's no question that wireless technology makes possible a creative revolution in office design; providing an alternative to traditional fixed-line data and voice cabling throughout offices. Providing voice and data communications without wires enables and creates flexibility; allowing employers to design space more creatively and cost-effectively to meet individual and company needs.

The traditional office is defined by fixed power points, fixed data cables and fixed voice points. With a wireless communications infrastructure, companies do not need to undertake the expense of installing these fixed sockets. More importantly, businesses now have the opportunity to avoid the cost of raised floors, put in to accommodate a mass of cables, as all the "cabling" could be wireless, just as a mobile phone is.

The wireless concept allows employees to take space where they need it, and to move from building to building without any restriction, perhaps working from laptops and mobile phones, encouraging creativity and making optimum use of office space. For example, if half the workforce is out of the office at any given time, there is a compelling economic argument to provide only half the traditional number of desks. In the most extreme case this could mean no employee having their own desk and the whole workforce "hot-desking".

If one looks at how space works for businesses, the ability to have any workstation available, at any place and at any time, gives companies, and employees, tremendous freedom. It removes the physical boundaries of today's working practices. This kind of "'virtual" office, as a concept, has been on everybody's lips for the last ten years, but sales functions, which are traditionally mobile, and consultancies, who normally spend most of their time with their clients, are among the few to have implemented it. With the advent of new, faster wireless data technologies the virtual office is likely to become a more widespread model.

What are wirefree communications?

Wirefree is not just about no wires, it is about moving away from yesterday's ways of doing things. Just as working practices have changed so has the technology evolved to meet the challenges produced by these changes. Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in the field of mobile data.

With a high-speed mobile data network workers on the move will have the data speeds they need to be as productive as their office-bound colleagues, making wirefree working a viable business proposition for the first time. Sales executives on the road will no longer have to trudge back to the office to verify details and customer information. Levels of unproductive "'dead-time" will be cut and sales closed faster. Service engineers will be able to view schematics and graphical repair instructions that a colleague could have posted on the company's intranet moments before. Customers can look forward to a faster and more certain service as a result.

Data speeds similar to those offered by the typical office PC will give instant access to price quotations, stock availability and immediate order processing via a company intranet, and also enable wirefree, laptop access to presentations, sales and marketing videos and even the latest ad, wherever the prospective customer might be. Browsing the Internet for information on prospects will become possible anywhere, even minutes before a meeting.

The services that will make wirefree working an effective reality are already with us:

Reviewed January 2011

last updated : 21/01/2011

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