Authored by: Ta Loong Gan, Managing Director, Barco SEA and Vice President ProAV, Barco APAC
Innovations in digital connectivity, coupled with growing employee demands for flexible working arrangements inspired a re-evaluation of traditional business models in recent years. Many companies embraced remote working to increase productivity, boost staff morale and respond to the evolving needs of the business. In Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in cooperation with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) developed a Tripartite Standard to encourage businesses to adopt Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs).
Technology has been an important factor in the adoption of flexible working arrangements by empowering unprecedented collaboration in the workplace and revolutionising the way that colleagues and clients communicate and share data. A Barco ClickShare survey revealed that 78 percent of employees strongly supported tech-enabled meetings that allowed the participation of remote joiners. The pandemic has shown how efficient cross-collaboration between colleagues, regardless of geographical location, can ensure the sustainable spread of globalisation and international business practices. However, it is good to point out that these trends were happening long before COVID-19. The movement towards flexible, remote working and more virtual collaboration has been happening for some time now.
With the spread of COVID-19, organisations reluctant to adopt flexible work arrangements were caught unprepared as employees were forced to work from home. This had a swift impact on how businesses prioritised technologies that support remote working. With the disruption to normal working life brought by the pandemic, technology has become even more vital.
In the aftermath of this disruption, businesses will have a better understanding of the benefits of a remote structure, and many will likely seek to adopt a hybrid approach that mixes office-based and remote working to deliver the physical interaction that humans need to thrive, with the convenience and flexibility of remote working.
Mobility: Working Where it Makes Sense
A rigid schedule does not work for everyone and the meaning of work-life-balance varies from one person to another. With family obligations and other responsibilities, the flexibility offered by remote working arrangements can help employees become more productive. The sense of accomplishment one gets from being productive at work, without neglecting other duties, can be a great morale booster.
The ability to reduce the number of employees based centrally by implementing flexible working has benefits to the business. Space can be reduced to accommodate a smaller office-based workforce, while most workers can be spread across multiple locations where they often have more immediate access to clients and suppliers. This fluid approach to remote working also lends itself to the popular and expanding freelance economy where workers are brought in as required, in response to market demands. This also applies to contractors, who largely work from home as they are temporary employees.
Flexibility Without Compromising Data Security
The proliferation of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture has resulted in a growth in efficiency as it delivers a more agile workforce in which employees can use their own devices to connect to a myriad of conferencing systems. Dynamic workplaces take it a notch higher by providing systems that allow Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) from anywhere and with any device. As the BYOD and BYOM trend increases, companies must implement solutions that facilitate seamless collaborations between multiple software and cloud-based technologies without compromising data security.
There are strong cyber safeguards that can be implemented to protect company networks and the integrity of the devices connecting to it. IT systems can be protected from cyberattacks with appropriate identification and authorisation steps and by using data encryption methods. Remote device management software can also mitigate the risk of unauthorised access from stolen or lost personal devices. Likewise, organisations must communicate with employees to understand their specific needs better and deliver tailored solutions that empower the workforce. With the right technology, as well as adequate security measures and training of employees, the risks can be mitigated.
As employees return to the office post lockdown, they will expect a revised structure where remote working plays a bigger role in their working week. Businesses must ensure that they are prepared for the future of workplace that is emerging by adapting to the changes technology is bringing. Flexible work environments that are duly supported by powerful digital collaboration tools enables companies to give their employees the best possible chance of doing their jobs effectively and productively – no matter what the future holds.