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How Technology Has Shaped The Virtual Workforce

Once upon a time, working from home was this aggravating exercise in jumping through hoops in order to get access to the necessary applications and data residing at the business itself. Usually this entailed going online (and this is during the time of telephone modems!), accessing an FTP site, and hoping and praying that you could access the files you needed.

How times have changed. Nowadays, working from home, whether it’s as a freelancer or simply telecommuting, is a smoother, easier undertaking. Here’s how technology has helped make the virtual work environment a convenient (and increasingly preferred) reality.

Thanks to huge advances in mobile computing, having a virtual workforce is easier than ever

Voice Over Internet Protocol

There’s a reason that VoIP is beating the pants off of Plain Old Telephone Systems (POTS). Not only does VoIP result in enormous savings on toll and long distance calls, it also brings to the table some pretty sweet features, such as easier conference calls and video conferencing. In addition, features like find me/follow me lets the phone system reach the telecommuting employee whether they’re at home, work, on the road. The centrally managed system also makes it easy for anyone to contact employees via a work number rather than having to give out private home numbers. It’s hardly surprising that this type of business phone system can help make telecommuting work.

Cloud Storage

An employee who wants to work at home may encounter difficulty in getting access to files that reside in the company’s in-house systems. Usually, it requires getting special permissions and accounts set up with the company’s IT department, which means jumping through all sorts of hoops. Then there’s the question of availability; if the IT people are running tests or maintenance, the information may not be accessible when the would-be telecommuter needs it, which sort of defeats the purpose.

But if a company has files stored in the cloud, all the telecommuter needs is a login ID and permission, and presto!

Mobile Technology

Yes, this may be a no-brainer, but for the sake of completeness (not to mention having the greatest impact), it bears mentioning. Computers have gone from bulky desktops to ultra-portable tablets. Wireless communication has gone from straightforward cell phones to versatile smart phones that allow web access, data downloading, video streaming, and oh yes, talking.

Notebooks and tablets are impressive enough as it is, letting virtual employees to do their jobs anywhere from their living room to a secluded table at their favorite bar, but smart phones have taken this to an even more impressive level. Consider the fact that a freelancer can use a smart phone to manage appointments, use a GPS to get to said appointment, run a version of Microsoft Office in order to create some needed files, and of course, call ahead to the next client and set up another appointment while downloading some needed data for research. All this, off of just a phone. Forget about doing it in a coffee shop or gym; that freelancer could be doing this in their car (though hopefully pulled over and not while the vehicle is in motion!).

The proliferation of mobile technology has encouraged more companies to adopt a BYOD policy, which in the long run saves them money, and lets employees use devices that they’re familiar with, thereby increasing their productivity and morale.

Considering that almost 60% of U.S. companies surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management offer telecommuting and more planning to do so, it’s difficult not to credit the above three technological advances as the reason why. As the benefits become more obvious, it’s a certainty that we’ll see the ranks of the virtual workforce increase all the more.

Written By

Born in the Boston area in 1959, I started writing in 1985. I live in Nashua NH with my wife and three cats. We have four kids in our blended family. I am an utter geek who's into gaming, horror, SF/fantasy, the Red Sox, trains, running, history, and a bunch of other things.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Chris Miller

    December 5, 2014 at 5:27 am

    Technology has surely defined the easier workforce environment in today’s life. With the evolving technologies such as conference calls, wireless communication, internet, cloud storage, video conferencing, web technologies and many others it is becoming work convenient for the people.

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