Mat Ashmore, head of ICT at North Lincolnshire Homes explains about how making the workforce truly mobile has revolutionised the way staff work.
By using technology, we have been able to create a virtual world where people can work from wherever they are, removing the need to be office-based full-time but still being in contact with what’s happening across the organisation.
Traditionally people come to work and spend hours behind their desk, but those days are gone. We want people to have the freedom to work wherever is convenient to them, based on the demands of their job. No matter your location, as long as there is internet connectivity, North Lincolnshire Homes’ staff can work from anywhere, exactly as if they were in an office.
So how have we done it? Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop have transformed traditional desktop and application delivery methods, and connectivity from the outside world has been secured by SMS Passcode with two-tier authentication.
We are unique in the fact our customer advisors are now using Cisco IP Communicator via the Citrix environment for true mobility between our two call centres and any other location which meets their particular needs.
We chose IGEL thin clients to replace desktop PCs, which has resulted in huge cost savings through energy efficiency, reliability and systems availability. Using a bespoke smart card, we have incorporated secure printing, door security and access to the IGELs. In addition, the ID cards are more than just about a face; they are personal to the individual with their preferences securely stored on the card.
iPad responsive repairs
Digital inclusion is a top priority not only for our tenants but also for our own front-line staff who traditionally wouldn’t have had access to a computer. This is where mobile working software from 1st Touch comes in. We are proud to be the first housing association to deploy a responsive repair module from 1st Touch via iPads.
iPads are being used for more than their day-to-day jobs. Responsive repairs staff can now access the corporate intranet, send and receive email, use their calendars, and join social media – all things that the other staff take for granted.
We want our tenants to feel comfortable when dealing with our staff, especially when they are visiting people in their homes, so by using devices as agile as iPads we are removing the barriers that can be created by books, folders and ruggedised laptops.
Mobile device management
Security is always paramount to any mobile working strategy. We are using XenMobile as our mobile device management system which allows us to globally send updated applications and security settings, along with being able to wipe company data when any device is reported as lost or stolen.
The Citrix infrastructure cost us around £130,000 and was installed last year during a phased implementation. The 1st Touch mobile working solution cost in the region of £95,000 and went live in May 2013 after a three month implementation.
The future of working is going to be dominated by mobility, and with our technology we have future-proofed ourselves to make the mobile experience a personal one rather than a ‘one solution fits all’ approach. Our next step is to improve mobile working further throughout the business and create solutions which are not restrictive and are open to a variety of devices.
Mat Ashmore is the head of ICT at North Lincolnshire Homes.