Digitally savvy workers do not adhere to 9-to-5 routines, new Dell and Intel research finds

25 Jul 2012

The shift towards increased technology choice and mobility in the last three to five years has left businesses scrambling to create IT infrastructure that supports digitally savvy workers who do not adhere to 9-to-5 routines, new research on changing work norms by Dell and Intel has found.

The Evolving Workforce study of close to 9,000 workers worldwide reveals that consumerisation of IT, greater worker input into IT provision and bring-your-own-device initiatives is creating a level of flexibility that is confounding to most IT traditionalists.

It also means hitherto unforeseen security challenges that IT traditionalists are right to be concerned about.

“While reinventing the operational landscape through IT can have a positive impact on productivity and employee morale, we shouldn’t lose sight of the challenges that these changes create for the business,” said Ed Goldman, IT CTO, Intel. “Every company will need to find the right balance between implementing changes to bring benefits to employees while matching the strategic objectives of the business.”

That said, the study points to greater awareness in the business community that companies can benefit from increased workforce productivity by allowing employees to have some level of choice in the technology they use and the mobility they enjoy.

But close parameters around levels of choice need to be established.

There is consensus among business leaders that the use of personal devices in the workplace exposes the company to increased security risks and potential data mismanagement. As well as the challenge of measuring productivity levels accurately, businesses are faced with the obstacle of “knowing what data is where and if it’s properly protected.”

Businesses need to be more mobile-led

Business leaders accept that the arrival of tablets, smartphones and cloud computing creates the need for companies to challenge themselves to be more mobile-led.

Many experts believe that the convergence of applications across devices will foster an even more mobile-dependent workforce in the future, meaning that businesses wanting to be more productive must first address legacy concerns in order to be mobile-ready.

The issue of transparency with employees regarding IT decisions that affect them presents a challenge for management, with business leaders noting that if any aspects of a company’s IT consumerisation policy are hidden from employee view, they may backfire.

They agree that being transparent with employees helps build trust and goes a long way in harnessing the productivity that businesses seek from new technologies and devices.

“With today’s increasingly tech-savvy workforce and outcome-driven employees, companies have everything to gain from fully embracing the IT consumerisation and mobility trend that is redefining the workplace,” said Adriana Karaboutis, CIO, Dell.

“Companies are realising that by enabling employees to work from a location of their choice using their preferred technology, they are taking one of the single most important steps in motivating business productivity.”

Flexible working image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years