A technology strategy has the potential to deliver numerous benefits, ranging from increased productivity to improved recruitment and retention rates. However, it also poses some interesting challenges and equally interesting opportunities, which need to be reviewed and addressed during the early stages of planning.
To maximise the value of any potential solution, organisations will have to move beyond traditional office infrastructures, based on the assumption that most people work primarily at a single, fixed location, such as a dedicated workstation.
Workers must be empowered with flexible workspaces and appropriate technologies, freeing them to access resources from any location at any time, collaborate effectively and participate fully in projects and processes.
According to the 2011 World at Work Survey on Workplace Flexibility, 72% of staff felt that there has been a positive or extremely positive effect on employee engagement. In addition, 71% and 82% believe there has been a positive effect on employee motivation and employee satisfaction respectively, due to the implementation of flexible working programs.
Our experiences with clients suggest that an organisation will have a variety of workstyles, with varying mobility levels and technology preferences. Executives may spend the majority of their time collaborating away from
the office, using tablets and smartphones, whereas technical staff may spend a majority of time at their desk making use of high-spec desktops. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach for space and technology provision may not be the most appropriate solution, especially in a large enterprise environment.
Other than the provision of appropriate solutions, suited to the needs of the end user, it is imperative that workers are trained in an organised manner and have access to a helpdesk or support service. An employee training program tailored to existing staff and new joiners may need to be developed by the organisation to cover hardware, software, intranet and any specialist applications.
In addition to this, organisations may also create global mobility programs, which provide HR training to managers focusing on line-managing and organising their remote workforce.
The increasingly mobile workforce can be perceived to pose a greater challenge to data privacy and protection of an organisation’s intellectual property. Therefore, the risk to corporate assets must be mitigated through effective risk management.
The digital marketplace is responding to this by offering thin-client technology solutions such as Citrix™, VDI™, iSpace™ etc. that extend security policies to the entire user group rather than just those in the office. With
these solutions, data and applications remain under IT control so that centralised management can make policy enforcement, regulatory compliance and other measures far simpler and effective. Storing data to removable media, printing and sharing can all be prevented, and even data delivered for offline use to the local desktop remains encrypted at all times.
In most of our workplace strategy projects, employee mobility has impacted physical space allocation in some way or another. The cost saving achieved through the introduction of programs such as desk-sharing extends itself throughout the organisation. According to a Citrix™ survey, organisations are expecting to reduce office space by 7% within the next two years and 16% by 2020.
Additionally, the ability to transition from traditional desktop to new thin client systems, and enabling users to bring their own devices (BYOD) or even choose your own device (CYOD), is reportedly lowering hardware costs for many organisations.
Various collaborative technologies are reducing travel times and travel-related expenses. New data centre technologies are enabling rationalisation of spaces dedicated to primary and secondary equipment rooms. Justifiably, there is a degree of capital expenditure that is required to implement new IT systems to facilitate these new ways of working but when designed correctly, they should end up saving money in the long term. Therefore, it is critical that they are discussed during the planning phase.
A trend where companies seek to assess employee mobility, alternative technologies and space use as a whole, is beginning to emerge. As organisations and their workforce are advancing beyond traditional boundaries between space and work, the provision of technology in workplaces today must make a similar transition. No longer can an organisation’s technology infrastructure be isolated from employee’s workstyle, use of office space, geographical location, type of device or the access method. To provide optimal support to the business,
IT must engage extensively with wider groups such as the real estate team, workplace strategists, HR and end users themselves to create a solution which has the inherent flexibility to support employee productivity wherever, whenever and however it’s needed.