Digital work: flexible, online, available

Digital Arbeiten

Smart phones are the drivers of digitisation – companies must adapt their IT security to this.

Stationary PCs are no longer needed today to check e-mails, search for information, share content in social networks or edit documents. It is possible to be online almost all the time and everywhere. Thanks to smart phones, notebooks, tablets and a growing IT infrastructure, online communication, be it for work or private life, is not restricted to any one place. The Internet for pockets, handbags and briefcases allows users to access their own personal data and business data from anywhere and this means even greater physical mobility. Young people today are growing up as digital natives, they primarily obtain their information from online sources and the digital world is where they work and play. Digital mobility is penetrating private life and the world of work to the same extent.

The modern working world – the office is everywhere

More than every second German had a smart phone in June 2014, three quarters a laptop and every fifth German had a tablet. This means that the majority of Germans used mobile devices with Internet capability, with each of them having, on average, more than two devices. Computers, smart phones and the Internet are considered to be essential. Almost 80 percent of adults were online in 2014. The fact that digital access is possible almost nationwide means that workplaces are no longer automatically confined to a location. The working population is making use of this and almost half of them work, at least sometimes, from home, every third on a regular basis. The main advantages of a virtual office are that it is easier for employees to reconcile their private lives with work and there is greater flexibility when it comes to time. All in all, a good third of people who use mobile terminal devices for work also use these outside the work environment.

Apart from the home, means of transport, such as cars and trains, are increasingly being used as digital offices. When it comes to the individual applications, the majority of users use telephone, e-mail and calendar functions while on the move. As mobility increases, the lines between work and leisure become blurred: every third person can be reached outside working hours while every fourth person checks their e-mails after work. This is sometimes voluntary because the majority of companies do not have any official agreements to cover this: around a third of companies would prefer not to have defined availability outside working hours, while the same number of companies would like for staff to be available in exceptional cases only.

Infrastructure for digital mobility

The parameters for digital mobility are increasingly being seen as a basic precondition for modern life. Both for companies and private users, failure of the communication network would often have similar consequences as a blackout for electricity supply. The Competence Centre Public IT of Fraunhofer FOKUS lists reliable network access and connected mobile terminal devices, suitable applications as well as data protection and security as the conditions for digital mobility. In detail, the concept calls for an efficient memory technology along with a nationwide mobile radio network. These requirements are what make it possible to use mobile services for carsharing, navigation applications and communication systems.

In order to create equal opportunities for participation in the digital world, the Federal Government has included nationwide broadband coverage in its Digital Agenda. Several ministries are working together to achieve this: the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Germany aims to ensure basic supply with at least 50 Mbps by 2018. This comprehensive access is designed to keep local business competitive, especially in rural regions.

IT security for companies

Digital mobility poses enormous challenges for the security of transmitted and stored data. Apart from virtual risks, the physical loss of devices is a problem when it comes to sensitive content. Secure transmission of data and messages is particularly important for companies. When more and more people can access the network from different locations and from private devices, clear authentication and secure communication channels are required. The company identity and sensitive data, for instance, must be protected against unsafe or harmful components on private devices. E-mail communications within a company can be protected against attacks and hacking using encryption methods and also with advanced electronic signatures.

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