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Photo: Steven Lam
In a city where the mobile penetration rate exceeds 239 percent, it is all too common to see Hong Kong professionals switch between multiple devices in the workplace. A recent report by flexible workplace provider Regus, showed 83 percent of Hong Kong professionals use instant messaging tools in the workplace, far above the global average of 64 percent.
This clearly has a great deal to do with the advancement of technology. Flexible working has never been so desirable, or possible, with employees wanting to work on the go. Add to this the skyrocketing office rental prices in Hong Kong, and you can begin to understand the pressure on business management to enable a mobile workforce. As a result, flexible working has become an imperative, not alternative for business of all-sizes.
For employees, flexible working embodies all the exciting factors of mobility that enable them to work efficiently anywhere — be it a client's office, a coffee shop, business centre or a taxi — via any device. However for managers, delivering this flexibility often brings challenges and concerns rather than excitement.
CIOs are under tremendous pressure to create a truly flexible workplace and find themselves stuck in a common dilemma: How can I meet employee demands for seamless communication, and ensure data security, network accessibility and true collaboration across all locations?
The answer for CIOs is to focus on three critical areas if they want to deliver a highly virtualised, flexible workplace:
- Team up with the IT department when designing office floor plans: The essence of flexible workplace lies in the multi-functionality of limited space. Designing the layout of this space requires IT expertise on how to build open infrastructure that is agile and compatible enough to handle multiple applications from different end-users. For instance, whether or not to outsource data centre management to a third party provider to save on office space.
Similarly, companies that promise connectivity and compatibility should consider building virtualised IT infrastructure and deploying a unified communications platform. This way, businesses can truly enable employees to work in their own way while giving them the tools they need to collaborate.
- Build user-centric IT infrastructure: Smart phones, tablets, instant messaging tools and other mobile applications have invaded the traditional workplace. This has made CIOs rethink their IT strategies — the traditional PC-centric management model can no longer support the multi-device IT operation demanded by end-users. Re-architecting IT infrastructure has become one of the top priorities for CIOs in recent years. To achieve a user-centric IT model, CIOs have to embrace new technologies such as cloud computing, virtual networks, software-defined storage and unified communication platforms in a bid to improve scalability, agility and reliability
- Ditch old-fashioned IT management philosophies: The future of the workplace belongs to millennials, a group which is often referred to as 'M-centric' for their 'Me-first' and 'Mobile-first' mentality. This new workforce is highly mobile and cares about working efficiently, without being confined to a cubicle or desktop. They crave a flexible professional lifestyle and are serious about maintaining their work-life balance.
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