Flexiworking stalled by company bosses

27 Oct 2005

At a time when the Government is under the cosh for its deployment of technologies, a more positive story emerged last week when Citrix area vice-president for UK, Ireland and South Africa, Lewis Gee, praised the public sector for being ahead of the game in Ireland for its adoption of flexible working solutions.

“Where we’ve seen the best and most forward-looking implementations is in the public sector, which to some extent is unusual because you think of the commercial sector as having the leading edge in technology,” he said, citing the work carried out by Meath County Council with Citrix channel partner Cara.

Head of information systems at Meath County Council, John Lawlor, explained how Citrix access and infrastructure software was enabling senior management to use the council’s network from remote locations using dial up and broadband from multiple devices.

“There are two parts to our Citrix deployment, to support remote workers and support flexible working,” said Lawlor. “It’s been relatively easy to implement and to manage it centrally and securely.”

It’s a success story that Citrix will be glad to reference to other potential customers because Ireland has been slow to see the benefits of such solutions. Only 12pc of Irish companies believe they would gain competitive advantage by having staff work at home or away from the office, compared to 30pc in the rest of Europe, according to a Citrix survey of 100 executives from the top 1,000 companies in Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Belgium and the Nordic countries.

Terry Brady, account manager with Cara, tried to explain why a country that perceives itself as high-tech is bottom of the rung when it comes to seeing the benefits of remote working technologies. “From a historic perspective, people were firefighting when it came to flexible working,” said Brady. “There was a lot of money spent at a time when the technology was too complicated and harder to control. It was put in place and maybe never used. Now there’s probably a perception problem in the marketplace.”

Christopher O’Toole, corporate accounts manager of Citrix Ireland, remained optimistic that things would change quickly: “Some of these people are still waiting to be convinced, but success will breed success. If we come back to this in 18 months’ time you’ll see different statistics.”

The survey sent out mixed signals with eight out of 10 recipients believing flexible working improved employee efficiency while only three out of 10 thought it could lead to increased turnover. Compared to the rest of Europe, Irish executives were less worried about data security issues and the difficulties of managing and motivating staff. Half of Irish employees believed access to remote working tools would improve their own performance and productivity.

For Citrix, a leader in access and infrastructure solutions that enable remote working, the survey reinforced its belief that the adoption is more about the human impact and culture change than the technology.

“If you are going to offer flexible working you have to think what that means. It’s brilliant to get more flexible but you have to have appropriate policies in place,” warned Gee.

Pictured: Terry Brady, account manager with Cara; John Lawlor, head of information systems Meath County Council; and Lewis Gee, Citrix area vice-president for UK Ireland and South Africa

By Ian Campbell