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Mobilising the workforce, fast-tracking the future – businesses across Emerging Africa are taking on flexible working

The year 2020 has seen tremendous shifts and changes in the way we work. Technology and innovation are creating new opportunities as well as challenges. For more than a decade, we’ve built a culture around the idea that work is outcomes based, not anchored to a specific place or time. While every industry and business are different, a segment of employees have shifted to remote work and businesses have had to rethink their operating models and organisational structures. Flexible working has jumped from being a pipeline goal to being part of our daily grind in a matter of a few months. As we all head to the dining table or study for yet another day ‘in the office’, remote working technologies are being put to the test in a serious way – and all businesses are impacted.

Working from home is not new. The connected office has long been a critical enabler of the modern era’s distributed workforce, bringing productivity and experience boosters. In fact, in many countries in Emerging Africa, like Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania etc., ICT has played a big role in driving the economy forward through the rapid growth of IT investment. Remote working has been one of the partial solutions to address connectivity challenges, address the needs of millennial workers, as well as encouraging women to be part of the workforce while having flexible careers.

Today, the ability to work remotely is business critical and presents certain challenges for organisations of all sizes. But adapting to the new normal is a collaborative effort, calling for unity between the c-suite, IT departments and third-party technology experts.

The question is: are organisations ready to handle and prepare for a long-term stint of remote working across the entire workforce – and will they rise to evolving needs when it comes to keeping their business successful?

Empowering productivity: While challenging, this is also a massive opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their agility – and for those lacking agility, to prioritise it. There is no doubt that this seismic shift will test both security and infrastructure, but flexible working can boost productivity too. As the workforce settles into their home office, there are considerations that need to be made in terms of security – keeping applications safe in the data centre and protecting end-point data – supporting network traffic and enabling increased flexibility. While each business will experience these to varying degrees, every business should be carefully thinking through their value chain. It’s therefore critical for organisations to support their employees with the right connectivity and tools that are essential to drive productivity and collaboration.

Data must be protected from the end point to the data centre: By increasing the number of devices connected to the network, the challenge will be managing and processing the additional data. To completely overhaul existing current networks is unrealistic for most medium businesses, as this not only takes time but is a drain on resources. Instead, edge computing can help to process data while limiting the impact on the enterprise cloud by only sending selected data. A recent study from the consulting firm, Deloitte, showed an alarming rise in the number of cyber and ransomware attacks against individuals and organisations and is only increasing, now that the home workforce is connecting remotely to their organisations systems. For any business, cyber-attacks can be devastating as the ability to recover is curbed by a lack of resources.

Seamless, scalable remote working solutions: Thanks to software defined workspaces, employees can access the tools and apps they need on any device. This keeps the day-to-day business rolling, ensuring the playing field is levelled in terms of accessibility and updates. As businesses adjust to the all-in working from home demands, they may find that consumption and ‘as-a-service’ solutions on-premise will help – particularly with economics and the short turn-around they have been faced with. For example, “Virtual Desktop Infrastructure” (VDI) provides secure, high-performance access for critical users while the “Hybrid Cloud” can scale data center resources.

In conclusion, every organisation needs to adapt to the changing expectations of the workforce in order to thrive, and ten years out, businesses that successfully achieve digital workplace transformations will be at an advantage over businesses struggling with legacy systems, massive amounts of data and workforces unprepared for change. Ultimately, by empowering remote workforces, organisations can unlock creativity, productivity, increase job satisfaction and most importantly learn to collaborate in new and improved ways – bringing to fruition the next wave of human led, technology-underpinned progress.

 

Habib Mahakian

Mahakian is the Vice-President, Emerging Africa, Dell Technologies

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