If you think of the work trends of the past decade, IT is at the heart of many of them. Social marketing has changed the way businesses communicate and project themselves. Mobile and remote working have changed the way they operate. The Internet has transformed the way they sell.
Such trends have brought IT departments much closer to the heart of corporate strategy. As a result, they may need to change the way they operate.
The need for change is highlighted in a new report called 'Meeting the Future of Work', published by Regus. The report doesn't try to predict the future of work: indeed, it emphasises the vanity of such predictions. Instead, it looks at how business leaders should approach an uncertain future. It stresses the need to monitor change, and for business support functions to work better together.
The pace of technological change has been remarkable in the past five years. Thanks to tablets, smartphones and video communications, workers have an unprecedented ability to communicate with colleagues, whether they're on the next floor, the next street, or the next continent. Research for "Meeting the Future of Work" found that 79 percent of Gen Y workers and 72 percent of older workers globally say they have all the tools they need to effectively collaborate with colleagues. Many of these collaborations would have been impossible less than a decade ago.
Tablets and smartphones have also launched trends like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), whereby employees use their personal devices at work. Singapore is especially advanced on this trend, with a BYOD rate of 90 percent compared to 74 percent globally.
The use of cloud computing is accelerating too. In a survey for Regus this year, 40 percent of businesses in Singapore thought using more IT cloud applications was one of the best ways to reduce cost without compromising growth.
The spread of mobile technology has also driven the trend of flexible and mobile working. With staff now able to work anywhere, firms see less need for traditional fixed real estate. Almost half (45 percent) of Singapore businesses think reducing fixed space would make a major contribution to reducing cost, without damaging growth.
The Singapore government is itself promoting the work-anywhere trend. Again, technology is at the heart of things. According to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), the deployment of next-generation nationwide broadband in Singapore makes flexible working arrangements more viable than ever before. And its reasons for promoting more flexible working? "Flexible work arrangements can contribute to better staff attraction and retention as well as improved productivity and enhanced access to a larger manpower pool," states the IDA.
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