Remote working impact upon Trust
COVID-19 has and will continue to impact the way businesses are being run and managed, especially in verticals such as education, transportation, aviation and manufacturing., said Colin Brookes, SVP for sales and services in APJ for Citrix.
But this isn’t all that Colin shared during an email interview with Enterprise IT News.
EITN: What are the top 3 initiatives Citrix has been involved in to help facilitate secure business continuity during lockdowns in various countries in SEA and/or APAC?
Colin: When the pandemic hit, we immediately extended our resources and offerings to help existing and new customers rapidly scale their solutions and future-proof their IT infrastructure for the new ways of working. We have been sharing best-practices on how we implemented remote working and business continuity in our organisation to show customers ways how they can adapt to it as well – as a company but also each employee individually.
One example of how we have been helping customers facilitate business continuity during the uncertain climate, is our work with a major aviation company in Singapore. By helping set up robust, integrated IT infrastructure and publishing applications through our Citrix Workplace platform, we are enabling the aviation company’s employees to enjoy the flexibility to work from anywhere, while keeping corporate information secure.
In the education sector, we are also seeing institutions being forced to change the way they teach and interact with students, for example, the University of Sydney. With the ongoing travel restrictions stranding more than 14,000 students from University of Sydney in China, the institution turned to technology to continue delivering knowledge and education despite the distances. Working with Citrix, the university connected China-based staff and students to its AWS Cloud in Sydney, providing seamless access to the applications and data needed to continue teaching and learning from the comfort and safety of their residences.
The last example we wanted to highlight is our efforts in assisting SAIC General Motors to get cloud-ready in order to facilitate the company’s go-remote plans to combat the pandemic. By deploying Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, and Citrix Gateway, over a virtualisation platform on the cloud, we were able to help SAIC enable fully mobile and remote collaboration for a wide range of functions including automotive design, IT software engineering, and call centers.
EITN: Is long-term remote working the best solution moving forward? If yes, are employees and devices/machines ready?
Colin: Remote work is an essential requirement that is here to stay for now and the future. Even when some countries return to normalcy, the economic impact of the pandemic has highlighted to companies the importance of staying prepared to minimize disruptions to regular business operations, and also the clear value of leveraging virtual workspaces. Many of our employees who may not have considered working from home now also see this as a viable alternative to being in the office five days a week. In fact, a survey that we commissioned found that 37 percent of employees think their organisations will be more relaxed about working from home in the future, and 32 percent say they plan to do so more often. With the right technology, workers and organisations will begin to see the possibilities that remote work can bring.
However, a key challenge we have been seeing with the rapid shift to go remote, is that sometimes companies may deprioritise security in some areas, over ramping up the ability to quickly get back to normal working. We are now seeing people freely discuss sensitive and private data from the home. While this may have led to some awkward moments – roughly 44 percent of remote workers during the stay home period have been caught doing household chores or using the bathroom while on video calls – this also means the proven hygiene and security practices might be the last thing on employees’ minds. There will also be an inflated reliance on the connectivity of home networks, which tend to have more relaxed security levels compared to the enterprise. Hence, much more needs to be done to focus on appropriate usage of remote resources over simply providing remote access.
The good news is that the core technology to empower successful virtual working is readily available, whether conferencing tools, collaboration platforms, virtual private networks (VPN) clients or digital workspaces. And we are seeing many companies and their IT teams rapidly embracing these technologies like digital workspaces and collaboration technologies, that can play a huge role in helping employees to connect and get work done from wherever they are in a secure and reliable manner.
EITN: How will this affect workplace culture, employee expectations and leadership approaches?
Colin: As we are social beings by nature, managing the well-being and personal lives of staff being forced to stay at home must be carefully considered. The lack of actual human interaction during prolonged remote working – especially during a crisis – may affect an employee’s emotional state, but we have to acknowledge that home working situations may generally cause to feel more isolated. Companies will need to be definitely aware of the need for balance and transparency when engaging with remote employees.
With remote working proven to be a success this year when the approach became a necessity, flexible working policies will become an expected, even compulsory “perk” for hiring and retaining the best employees moving forwards. Leaders should realise such “work from everywhere” expectations are only going to grow, whether to address the ongoing challenges or to balance personal commitments. In return, companies can open up access to new talent opportunities, and also expect employees to be more loyal and more engaged with their work while staying productively remotely.
In a digitally-driven world, larger C-level conversations on how to empower employees to do the best work they can require both the voices of the CIO and CHROs, collaborating with their CEOs together to ensure that the technologies in place support people’s needs, adhere to HR and security policies, and deliver an engaging experience. Ultimately, employees need to feel happy and engaged at work, and have seamless access to their preferred tools, so that they can then continue delivering the best they can.
EITN: Do you have anything to add also about the impact of remote working upon trust?
Colin: Speaking of trust, I think we have to admit, that the trust in remote employees was not very high at the start. However, despite the lack of face-to-face interactions during remote working, including physical oversight of employees, we are seeing that the majority of workers worldwide staying engaged and be as or even more productive working from home as they are in the office, with close to 70 percent of those polled in our pan-industry survey sharing that their productivity levels have remained or even improved after making the shift to remote. We also realise that the vast majority of workers remain anxious about not putting themselves or their families at risk when returning to the office further down the pandemic, and companies should continue to enable flexible working to empower employees with the trust that they have their best interests at heart.
With flexible working here to stay, organisations also need to trust that their technology allows remote employees to work securely. An emerging paradigm that can help ensure critical-level security, regardless of device used or location access, is zero trust security that requires the enterprise to not trust any entity e.g., users, devices and apps, inside or outside the network perimeter at any time. One example of virtual workspace platforms that leverage such zero trust architecture for secure remote working is Citrix Workspace.