Flexible future for workforce who want to plug in from anywhere

The decision by thousands of businesses to deploy a remote-based workforce over the past six months initially emerged as a forced response to an unprecedented crisis, rather than a chosen strategy.

By Garsen Naidu, GM: sub-Saharan Africa at Cisco

However, over the course of the Covid-19 crisis, employees’ proven ability to be productive while working from home with the support of digital technology has presented the opportunity to justify remote working as a more permanent option for employees who want greater flexibility.

A permanent shift?

The pandemic has undoubtedly shifted practices and expectations in workforce structures. With only 5% of employees having previously had the flexibility of working remotely, a global Workforce of the Future survey conducted by Cisco shows that 63% of employees who have been working from home over the past 6 months have confirmed that they wish to maintain the autonomy they experienced.

Within the South African context, 87% of employees have indicated that they want choice when it comes to workplace location – blending between the office and working remotely.

As revealed in another study by Cisco – Remote Working in South Africa 2020, only 15% of employees did not favour working remotely. The results of these two studies highlight that the majority of people are comfortable to carry on working from home and do not see the need to be based at the office permanently.

Productivity remains high

Both options of workplace location have proven to be effective for business. 99% of employees in South Africa were found to be cooperative when working from home – whether it was being prompt for online meetings, maintaining contact with a manager around work progress or dressing appropriately for video calls.

Cisco’s Remote Working in South Africa 2020 study also revealed that productivity surged by as much as 70% due to businesses’ efficient digital transformation; that is, the use of digital technology to streamline business processes. The research showed that 38.3% of businesses are already prepared to allow their staff to work remotely.

The mental burden of remote work

Two thirds (66%) of employees in Cisco’s Workforce of the Future survey reported having a greater appreciation of the benefits and challenges of working from home. However, working from home, while it has its advantages and benefits, was emotionally challenging for the local market. The emotional impact of working from home in a time of so much change and uncertainty took its toll on both staff and managers.

Fifty-one percentof employees rated the emotional impact of working from home as severe. The shift to working from home did not mean work-related stress would subside. More than half (64%) of businesses reported that remote working did not result in less stress for employees.

This suggests that, whether a workforce is distributed or not, the nature of the business and work remains the same. Therefore, the focus should be more about where one would be most comfortable dealing with such stresses.

Equipping the workforce of the future with the correct tools

The key is for businesses to ensure employees are well equipped to work from anywhere. Implementing flexibility for employees successfully needs businesses to invest in high standard technologies, to enable their geographically dispersed workforces to stay connected, secure and productive.

Further insights from the Workforce of the Future survey revealed that employees would like to see remote work-enabling technologies being prioritised by businesses and 78% of employees believe businesses need to provide the workforce with similar technology at home as in the office to ensure a seamless work experience.

With today’s workforce calling for freedom of choice and flexibility as they choose to plug in from anywhere, a robust digital transformation strategy for business is fundamental for a deeply connected, secure and collaborative hybrid workforce.

The way we work is changing. Cisco is at the forefront of reimagining the future of work. As a world leader in collaboration platforms and networking and security, businesses rely on Cisco to progress their employee’s working environments as the world of work evolves.

Sourced from: IT-Online. View the original article.

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