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11 August, 2020

Technology propelling Workforce Mobility

Jaideep Mehta

The Covid crisis has quite literally brought “Future of the Workforce” to the present. 50 million office workers in the country have been impacted by the crisis and the attendant lockdowns, office closures and various social distancing curbs.

The prolonged lockdown, followed by the strict restrictions on gatherings and crowds post reopening, have demonstrated that ‘work from home’ or WFH, the acronym preferred by millennials, is not just a viable option, but according to many CEOs, actually becoming a preferred option for companies. It seems that the equilibrium will be reached with a blended model which allows for some office time and a majority of WFH time.

As an important side note, it is clear that WFH is not suitable for all industries or occupations. It is impossible for a farmer, or a truck driver, or a warehouse worker or a nurse, or a gardener, to work from home. However, the vast swathes of office workers can.

The business case for a ‘Work From Anywhere’ model is just too compelling.

 The savings on rentals, office running expenses, transportation expenses and so on, will add up to a sizable percentage of the operating budget. It is not surprising that many are suggesting that the next 3-5 years are going to see seismic changes in commercial real estate.

While it is too early to conclude anything, anecdotal evidence suggests that the trend for a hybrid model has started. A Big 4 firm has given up 3 office floors in Gurgaon. TCS has announced a move towards a long term Work from Anywhere programme. Several lower-profile organisations are following suit.

This trend has tremendous implications for end-user client devices and associated technologies. As workers log in from homes and elsewhere, CIOs have to take into account at least the following: resilient machines that can bear the rough and tumble of home use, cutting edge security, robust connectivity and, above all these days, superb high definition cameras for that extra edge in video conferencing!

A special mention for security as hackers are finding newer and creative ways to break into devices and networks given that vulnerability is generally higher in home environments. So, machines should have latest features such as biometric security and two-factor authentication to keep the device safe, and also to protect the corporate network, applications and data.

Workers at all levels are now used to remote working. While some fatigue is creeping in, by and large companies are reporting not just a maintenance but an increase in productivity levels. It is the responsibility of CIOs and the leadership team to ensure that they are appropriately equipped with secure and fit-for- purpose laptops and workstations.