Work From Anywhere: How to Land That Bigger Office
Les Farkas, Chief Technology Officer, GRC
The consumerization of IT, by means of affordable mobile computing, is creating pressure on businesses to rapidly evolve their concept and definition of what is considered “the office.” As traditionally defined, the office is an expensive facility where employees perform work on-site. Individual professional accomplishment has often been linked with the size of the office the organization provides the employee.
A recent survey conducted by LinkedIn asked over 7,000 professionals which tools and office trends will disappear by 2017. Items on the endangered list included standard working hours (57%), desktop phones (35%), desktop computers (34%), and the corner executive office (21%).
The evolution of the office is transforming from the costly fixed location to a simple backpack containing the IT equipment that enables employees to communicate, collaborate, and contribute. The potential exists for the size of an employee’s office to expand from a 12’ by 12’ room to virtually everywhere.
For NASA to give all its employees that coveted “bigger office,” the keys to success will be to think strategically about how we work, and then to outfit the mobile workforce with tools that will enable users to take their office anywhere. The following are just a few opportunities for the Agency to enable the Work From Anywhere (WFA) principle:
- View the desktop as antiquated technology. As Center budgets might allow, subscribe to laptops to the greatest extent possible during the next ACES seat refresh cycle. Mobility of a user’s computer is foundational to succeeding with WFA. Incorporate multigigabit 802.11ad wireless interfaces in laptops, positioning end-user devices to take advantage of higher-speed wireless networks. Laptops with docking stations are just as ergonomic as desktop configurations with the added advantage of mobility.
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): Combine the laptop and phone by deploying VoIP softphones on ACES laptops. With infrastructure configured to allow softphone access from any network, users will be able to carry their work phones “in” their laptops.
- Mobile Videoconferencing: Technology, such as Vidyo, permits virtual face-to-face interaction and integration with NASA’s existing ViTS facilities, smartphones, and tablets. Mobile videoconferencing can enhance employee interaction beyond voice-only methods.
- Leveraging Digital Media: The continued transition from paper-oriented business processes to digital media workflows can enhance mobility and further reduce costs; these changes can, however, have a significant impact on individual and team workflow processes and preferences for hard-copy editing.
- Agency WFA Program: Establish an Agency-level program that integrates all aspects of the infrastructure (facilities, procurement, human resources, legal, protective services, and the OCIO) to support WFA, seeking out related cost savings. Desk sharing/hoteling/facility consolidation, reduction of carbon footprint, mobile-device management, Bring-Your-Own-Device, gigabit wireless networking (802.11ac), network access control (802.1X), VPN, cloud, and dataloss prevention are just a sampling of the major infrastructure components for development consideration.
Can NASA provide the tools and establish the culture that will let employees perform work from any device, anytime, anywhere? Can NASA decommission two-to-five facilities at every NASA Center to save costs without compromising performance? The possibilities and technologies are there—with a tremendous amount to gain in productivity and employee satisfaction. NASA has the opportunity to take steps now that will realize the vision of a workplace in the future and land that bigger office for its employees…which is everywhere.