Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Demand for More Open, Flexible Workplace Environment

According to a new market study by Cisco, a majority (60%) of IT decision makers from North European countries believe the ability to work remotely leads to increased productivity -- and it is no longer necessary to be confined to an office to be productive.

Although these IT decision makers believe technology (such as business tablets) allows them to be more mobile and flexible, more than half (56%) of those surveyed -- led by those in Norway and The Netherlands -- work one or more extra hours per day as a result of the ability to work remotely.

In Northern Europe, there is a growing need for remote access to the company network, social media access in the workplace and for the freedom to use personal devices for business purposes -- also known as "Bring Your Own Device" or BYOD.

This trend can have a significant impact on the IT policies of organizations and among end users who are employed by companies with IT policies -- as the study also found that nearly half (47%) indicate their IT policy could use improvement or updating.

That's the primary conclusions from an online survey held by Cisco in five countries: Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands. The results of this North European survey complement and confirm the findings of last year's Cisco Connected World Technology Report -- an international research into the demands, behaviour and work lifestyles of the next generation of workers.

In addition, the survey found that when faced with the choice between "a higher salary and no remote access" versus a "lower salary position that offers remote access," end users are split, with one out of every two respondents (53%) opting for a lower salary, because they find work flexibility more important.

With little differentiation across the countries, more than 6 out of 10 (65%) end users expect to have remote access to the network in the future.

Demand for Mobile Enterprise Connectivity

Looking at the use of mobile devices, end users from Northern European countries tend to use more than one device during the typical workday: more than 8 in 10 (82%) end users indicate they use at least one device at work that is not company-issued.

More than half (51%) of the surveyed IT decision makers even indicate that up to 50% of their company's mobile workers use a smartphone as their primary communication device.

Overall, most businesses in the surveyed countries have at least taken some steps to prepare for a "mobile and distributed" workforce. Still, 1 in 5 IT decision makers (21%) indicate that their company is as yet completely unprepared. The highest percentage of unprepared businesses is reported in Norway (26%).

In The Netherlands, 14% of decision makers indicate that their company is totally unprepared. In each country, roughly one-third (36%) indicate they are actively working towards enabling a mobile, distributed workforce, especially in the Netherlands (45%).

Surprisingly, although Norway reports the largest percentage of completely unprepared companies, it also has the highest proportion of companies that already have state-of-the-art IT support for a "mobile and distributed" workforce (34%), together with Denmark (31%). In that respect, Netherlands (14%) and Belgium (12%) trail the pack.

Access to Social Media Networking Resources

Few end users (less than 1 in 5, 19%) report that access to social media type websites and applications is restricted at the workplace. Likewise, about 6 in 10 IT decision makers (59%) -- particularly those in Denmark -- feel that access to social media sites and applications are important for the work-life balance, or staying competitive with other businesses that use them.

"Our Workforce Survey in Northern Europe confirms that employees really want an open and flexible workplace environment. The survey indicates that IT decision makers want to accommodate this requirement and in a secure way enable a mobile, distributed workforce. Most end users in the surveyed countries indicate that they work an extra hour or more per day because of their ability to work remotely. This shows BYOD brings the productivity we are looking for," said Niels Furu, Vice President, Cisco Northern Europe.

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