Before the rise of hybrid work, the office generally functioned as a center for collaboration, but recent trends indicate that it is increasingly valued as a hub of connection. While Singapore’s office leasing market has rebounded to exceed pre-pandemic peaks in the third quarter of 2022, business leaders liken physical offices to a cornerstone for creating corporate values and a culture of belonging for today’s dispersed workforce.
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As more employees demand flexibility and mobility in their work, CIOs must evaluate how their current network strategy impacts their ability to support today’s changing business and work environments. While Singapore is one of the leading adopters of workplace flexibility, countries like Malaysia (26 per cent), the Philippines (15 per cent) and Indonesia (12 per cent) expect employees to be working in the office full-time, according to a survey by the Center for Creative Leadership.
Enhancing the IT infrastructure for the mobile mindset
A recent Leesman report, commissioned by HPE Aruba Networking, revealed that 93 per cent of corporate real estate leaders surveyed plan to adopt hybrid work as standard practice going forward, with 94 per cent planning to make further physical changes in the workplace to support organizational and employees’ needs.
It also revealed a difference in attitude between office and hybrid workers on fixed computing equipment—37 per cent of office workers consider this essential, however, 70 per cent of hybrid workers prefer mobile computing and rated it as a crucial IT feature. To meet the growing demand of flexibility and mobility among employees, CIOs need to recognize that times are changing and must adapt their IT infrastructure to serve this evolving working style.
Failure to periodically upgrade fixed computing equipment can also limit employees’ ability to work effectively on slow and outdated systems in the office. In addition to the growing preference for flexibility, mobile devices are also easier and more cost-effective to replace if they become damaged or outdated. As such, CIOs need to reassess their need for fixed IT features and tailor requirements to their business needs.
Revamping the network to foster secure collaboration
Mobility is one of the most desired factors for employees in the age of agile working, and for many, the office is now a part-time location for full-time employees. Organizations are adapting their physical layouts to reflect this trend, outfitting the office with enhanced video conferencing capabilities and flexible workspaces to promote collaboration and engagement.
Although the need for office space is shrinking, CIOs need to channel investments into network modernization to better serve both office and hybrid workers, especially as more workloads move the public cloud. They need to seamlessly connect the two worlds. Companies need to redesign shared spaces and the network infrastructure to support Wi-Fi traffic at scale, while creating a unified infrastructure and security framework for consistent in-office and remote experiences for users across locations.
Modernizing the WAN (Wide Area Network) by adopting Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) should be a priority. SD-WAN helps optimize the user experience when working from the office and accessing workloads in both the public cloud and data centre. It also supports and secures the wide scale adoption of IoT across all office locations.
Modernizing security should be the second area of investment for CIOs. Reality demands that enterprises rethink perimeter security and shift the network security paradigm to meet the needs of the mobile workforce. This is best achieved by embracing Zero Trust principles and the adoption of a Secure Services Edge (SSE) framework. SSE enables organizations to extend edge security capabilities to all mobile devices in any location at any time —a critical cloud-first requirement for secure and reliable access.
Redesigning the office of the future is no easy feat, but transforming a physical space and adopting the right technology that supports the growing range of devices, users, and platforms is crucial for work-from-anywhere mobility. CIOs need to rethink their IT infrastructure to achieve better business outcomes—from increasing employee productivity and engagement, to reducing capital and real estate operating costs.
It goes without saying, “people move, networks must follow.” A mobile-first, digital workplace strategy can further enhance the hybrid experience for employees and improve job satisfaction and performances. The future office is a mobile and evolving working space, and the network will be a key driver in creating a collaborative culture in the hybrid workforce.
The article “How CIOs are modernizing workspaces in the age of agility” was contributed by Mark Verbloot, Senior Director, Products, Solutions and Systems Engineering, Asia Pacific & Japan, HPE Aruba Networking
About the author
With more than 30 years of industry experience, 12 of which as a APJ leader, Mark has developed a sound understanding of the APJ region. During his time at HPE Aruba Networking, Mark has built world class sales engineering and product management teams in the Asia Pacific region. He joined the company in 2006 when it first started in Australia and has been intimately involved in many major network infrastructure and security projects in all parts of the Asia Pacific region and across all key verticals, including, government, defense, retail, finance education and health. Mark regularly publishes industry-related articles and speaks at industry events.
Prior to this, he worked as a senior engineer at F5, Cisco, Arrowpoint and Xylan. Mark holds a B.Eng (honours) in Computer Systems Engineering from University of Technology, Sydney Australia.