Cost pressures combined with the commercial real estate prices and the off-shoring of specific job functions has contributed to the increase in the number of premises available for lease or purchase in most city centres and highways.
What has changed?
The Fortune 500 in most cases are still operating and continuing to squeeze more profit, but some, not all, are not residing in that prime real estate HQ down town as they once were.
Capitalising on the improvements and popularity in technology - ranging from computers, broadband, mobile phone technology and public wireless connections (WiFi) available at most coffee shops and airports - organizations have encouraged staff to work from home - the 'home-worker' has truly been born. Although it should be stated that some organizations, mainly in the technology sector back in the 90's had the foresight and instigated such a strategy, but they were not as easily mobile and effective as they are today.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Reduction in the office capacity / footprint required to house those staff that simply cannot be transformed into home workers. In addition there will be a need to accommodate those workers who infrequently need to come into the office - 'hot desking'
- Reduced productivity impacts from incidents involving transport systems and weather conditions
- Reduction in the level of consumption for office facilities such as electricity, lighting, heating, catering, car parking and security
- Reduced onsite support requirements from IS
On the challenging side the organization now needs to consider from an IS perspective:
- Company Assets
Increased requirement to track and manage the company assets, both from a support perspective but also from a security aspect with regards employees leaving the organization and unless prompted to do so not returning 'loaned' company assets.
- Data Protection
Sensitivity around employee personal data being available to various IT Support teams.
The monitoring of who has access to the company data. The ability to 'lock down' access of by individual or personal computer.
- Deployment and maintenance of software
The necessity to be able to deploy software and apply updates remotely and automatically.
- Hands-on support of equipment
Having a large percentage of the workforce dispersed across a wide and sometimes diverse geographical location hands-on support of equipment may not be easily achievable.
An accurate and maintained Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB) provides the organization with the opportunity to support and protect its staff and intellectual property. The CMDB will need to contain a unique identifier against each company asset or configuration item (CI), then by providing relationships between assets (hardware and software), which includes employees and their location(s) a comprehensive database is formed. In addition incidents, problems and requests for change (RFCs) are also associated to a specific or group of configuration items providing a historical record of associated events.
Pivotal to the accuracy of the CMDB is the requirement for a consistent and regular interface between the Human Resources department and Configuration Management. All 'starters' or new employees as well those leaving the organization are captured within the CMDB together with those employees whose details may have changed (e.g. moved house or possibly got married and have changed surname).
Although we specifically mention Configuration Management it should not be ignored that all the remaining ITIL disciplines have a part to play in supporting the home worker.
In summary home workers provide advantages for organizations but also some challenges from a service support and delivery perspective.