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COMMENTARY

Payoffs in productivity, engagement and creativity make flexi-work a worthwhile goal

WORK is no longer associated with a place and instead has morphed into an increasingly dynamic activity that people expect to be adaptable to their needs. Employees everywhere across all industries are looking for the flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime, be it the home, a café or even a park.

Despite the increasing desire to give employees the flexible working environments they are looking for, corporations are still struggling to find the best way to make it happen. This is especially true from a technology perspective, as employees are also demanding the same tools, network access, security, apps and library resources to be made available even when they are not working in the office.

STATE OF FLEXI-WORK IN SINGAPORE

In 2018, Citrix commissioned a survey of over 1,700 business and technology decision makers in the Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) region to understand the state of IT complexity that organisations in the region face and its impact on business agility, digital transformation, security and cloud readiness. The study shows that flexible working environments continue to grow in Singapore, with 93 per cent of businesses offering flexible working options.

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However, digging deeper, one finds that many companies restrict this offering only to certain teams, thus creating unhappiness and morale issues.

A closer look at the data shows that although 93 per cent of Singapore organisations offer flexible work, in only 21 per cent is it offered broadly across the organisation. The rest are offered only to certain teams (41 per cent), senior management (20 per cent) and specific job functions (11 per cent).

Flexible work needs to be implemented and not restricted in order for it to work. Senior leadership must take responsibility for changing the culture, policies and technologies to fully unleash the potential of flexible work within their organisations.

CLOUD AS THE BIG ENABLER

With today's technology, flexible work can easily be implemented. Organisations need a secure digital workspace that integrates technologies, platforms, devices and clouds to secure and simplify IT management. This helps to deliver personalised access to the relevant systems and tools that employees need, whenever, however and from wherever they need them; ensuring excellent end-user experience and promoting productivity.

While providing network access to employees, companies need to be mindful of digital security, ease of access and connectivity - all of which can be enabled by cloud computing.

In this digital era, flexible work depends to a large extent on a robust cloud-based infrastructure. Such infrastructure reduces cost and risks while unlocking potential productivity gains. It allows companies to enter new markets, implement new business models and develop new products and services.

While there are many types of cloud-computing architecture available, organisations should consider multi- or hybrid-cloud solutions so as to ensure that there are no infrastructure and vendor lock-ins.

This option also provides the flexibility for a strategic shift, if necessary. The study shows that 80 per cent of organisations across APJ are adopting cloud technology in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions delivered by well-known brands like SalesForce, Office 365 and Workday. A high percentage of organisations (80 per cent) are already approaching the move to cloud strategically, and are currently using, developing or planning to develop bespoke cloud-native applications.

Across the region, a hybrid multi-cloud model is the favoured option. In the top five markets (Australia, China, Indonesia, India and Singapore), 92 per cent of the companies have indicated that they have fully adopted, are currently adopting or planning to adopt a hybrid cloud model in the next 12 months. Australia leads the way with 20 per cent of respondents having hybrid-multi cloud under consideration.

The hybrid multi-cloud adoption trend will continue across the region for the next few years. And while this grows, organisations will need to take control early, and seek out a solution that enables a unified, contextual and secure digital workspace that enables employees to realise the full benefits of hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

The real strategic value of cloud adoption is how it can be used as a platform for building customised applications. This will transform business processes, how organisations do things and create new ways of working. This is the real digital transformation and should be considered as part of the flexible work environment journey.

The benefits of flexible work environments have been well-documented. Flexible work allows employees to enjoy a better work-life balance; it relieves work-related stress and cuts down on commute time and cost.

Happier workers are more likely to be productive and innovative and will remain with their employers for longer periods of time, reducing recruitment and training costs while minimising interruptions in the workplace. Organisations that provide flexible work conditions together with personalised tools to boost productivity, engagement and creativity are at an advantage when it comes to recruiting the most talented workers.

Let's make flexible work work in 2019!

  • The writer is area vice-president for Asean and Korea at Citrix