In South Africa, it is anticipated that a large percentage of the workforce will keep working from home for the next year, even after all the lockdown levels are lifted, according to Theo Reddy, principal head of solutions for intelligent infrastrcuture at Dimension Data.
Rather than only allowing remote working in obeyance to lockdown rules, many businesses are now re-evaluating their operational models to sustain a remote workforce more permanently.
“It’s a growing trend and will have a major impact on a business’s bottom line. A more remote workforce translates into considerable savings on real estate rental and maintenance costs and also offers a marked additional positive effect on other key societal issues such as road congestion and pollution,” Reddy says.
Dimension Data says that the financial services, education, healthcare and public sectors are most likely to permanently embrace working from home, with a potential market value of R1-billion annually to facilitate this. In the financial services sector alone, it is expected that 25% – 50% of employees will remain home-based, post-Covid-19.
There are unavoidable challenges in enabling a remote workforce who are used to working on office-based desktops; they need a home-based solution to securely authenticate and use all of their enterprise applications to continue to work as usual. “But they are not insurmountable,” Reddy says.
“For businesses in the financial sector, there is also an additional challenge when it comes to measuring employee productivity, although anecdotal evidence of people working in the financial sector in particular points to increased productivity.
“Business continuity has never been more important, along with quickly ramping up and securely managing a dispersed workforce. Covid-19 will continue to fuel a further dramatic uptake of collaboration services, and it will place unprecedented demand on networks. These issues need to be addressed,” he says.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), some 94% of chief information officers (CIOs) say that providing secure, agile access to IT services and applications to staff working from home is their number one short term priority. Furthermore, two-thirds of CIOs believe firmly in strengthening technology for disaster recovery and business continuity; 45% are building/enabling new applications to provide digital online experiences, and 71% are focusing on increasing technology-enabled collaboration and engagement with their businesses.
In response to this growing need for the home-based workplace, Dimension Data launched its new Smart Virtual Workplace Solution this week. It helps companies extend an enterprise-grade technology experience to their employees who need to work from home in a highly secure digital environment.
The Smart Virtual Workplace is an agile, efficient, cost-effective and secure option that offers an enterprise-grade experience for a distributed workforce. It promotes remote productivity and advanced collaboration, allowing voice calls, message chatting, document sharing as well as remote video conferencing with extended options to address concerns related to a steady power supply.
Setumo Mohapi, Dimension Data’s chief go-to-market executive, says: “The new Smart Virtual Workplace solution clearly demonstrates the power of bringing together the skills and solutions across our ‘go to markets’ to deliver true innovation and empower human connectedness.”
Flexible commercial models coupled with innovative technology design gives the user fixed and mobile connectivity, a WiFi access point and secure, seamless access to corporate networks, public cloud services and the internet. IT departments have access to centralised management from the cloud and the ability to prioritise application traffic to enhance the users’ experience of corporate applications.