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Creative and intelligent digital workspaces are a pre-requisite in the new normal

A recent Straits Time survey revealed that 8 in 10 employees in Singapore want to work from home and have more flexibility.

As employee expectations and needs change in the new normal, the necessity to have creative and intelligent digital workspace has become the top priority for all employers. Appreciating the relevance and expedience of this issue, OpenGov Asia hosted an OpenGovLive! Breakfast Insight on 15 October to learn about and explore modern digital workspaces for the new normal.

The session witnessed an overwhelming response from the audience in terms of attendance, diversity and engagement. Comprised of senior public sector digital executives from various Singapore agencies, the attendees were eager to discuss, debate and determine what a digital workspace would look like.

Mohit: Partner with experts who can help strike the right balance between data access and safety

Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia, opened the session by recapping how the world was forced to adapt to new ways of working and how that has fundamentally changed the way organisations – public and private – function.

With the remote working in place, it is important to ensure employees have the necessary access to relevant data and applications from any device at any location at any time. Mohit emphasised that this need to enable broad access to employees across an organisation raises significant security issues. The immediate acknowledgement and feedback from delegates validated this concern.

This issue becomes even significantly magnified in the public sector as they did not get the chance to slow down during the pandemic and, on the contrary, were under greater pressure to continue to deliver existing citizens-services and additional emergency measures as well.

Mohit stressed that it is key is to strike the right balance between making data accessible and keeping it safe. He concluded by advising delegates from public sector industry to partner with the right people, experts in the field, who can make it easier for them to strike the access and safety balance rather than trying to do everything inhouse.

Prem: Nail the balancing act between security, productivity, and competitive differentiation

After Mohit’s thought-provoking presentation, Prem Pavan, Area Vice President Sales and Services Asia (ASEAN & Korea), Citrix shared his learnings and experience with the audience.

Prem began by explaining that Citrix as an organisation has been dedicated to enabling digital workspaces that are fully equipped with all employee requirements, irrespective of the physical space they are working from.

He brought out some interesting remote working trends they had observed over the last 6 months. These trends highlighted the conclusion, many had already come to, that remote working was here to stay. Not only because of the current pandemic but because employees are more productive, feel more comfortable at home and do have some hesitancy in coming back to their offices just yet.

Prem also opined that the adaptive workplace with a greater focus on cloud and digital transformation is going to be the new norm for organisations across the board – in both the public and the private sector.  Additionally, existing physical workplaces will undergo fundamental infrastructural changes in terms of seating plans, desk space and collaborative common areas.

Although remote working is set to become the new norm, it is not without its own set of challenges. The biggest of these is enabling secure access to various data and applications to employees using different devices from different locations at different times.

Prem reiterated the need to nail the act of balancing security, productivity and competitive differentiation. In closing, he offered Citrix’s full support to all public sector organisations in their digital workspace journeys.

After Prem’s informative presentation, Lynn Warneke, Corporate Operations Director and Chief Information Officer at the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) at Victoria shared her thoughts on the topic.

Lynn: Digitally empower staff before digitising citizen experience

Lynn began by revealing to the audience that she was a true believer in the digitisation of citizen experience by digitally empowering the staff in the public sector and had done this when she joined the DPC two years ago.

Her goal was to enable a high-performance DPC through a collaborative and personalised staff experience enabled by flexible workspaces and premium digital tools and processes underpinned by effective services and solutions.

The first step towards achieving this goal was strategy formulation that rested on four pillars:

  1. Strengthening Foundations
  2. Maturing Operations
  3. Partnering in Reform
  4. Transforming Experience

The second step included initiating a program, IGNITE, that would help combine the physical, the digital, and the people transform their physical environment, introduce new digital platforms and tools and assist the workforce to move to new ways of working.

Lynn shared the outcomes of strategising and implementing the above-mentioned program which includes:

  • Improved collaboration
  • Easier communication
  • Stronger engagement and improved connection for distributed staff
  • Enhanced individual and team flexibility
  • Higher productivity

Lynn concluded on a positive note by highlighting the silverling that has emerged out of the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic. This silver lining is the realisation that digital transformation can genuinely enhance organisations’ capability to deliver and can be implemented over a short span of time.

Prasad: People in an organisation are the most valuable resource in today’s world

After Lynn, D.N. Prasad, Senior Director, Strategy, People, and Organisation from Government Technology Agency of Singapore spoke about some of his learnings.

Prasad started by emphasising the importance of people as the most valuable resource in today’s world; and since their wellbeing is the responsibility of senior leaders in any organisation, the onus on leaders is high.

He felt that the world is still in the process of learning and adapting to the new normal which he called the “current normal” which seems to change every day.

Prasad suggested the best way for organisations to go through this dynamic time to prioritise people, leadership and culture. In addition, it is important to understand that the workplace is undergoing fundamental changes. The future workspace will have social (digital/virtual) collaboration at its core rather than a designated physical place.

Like Lynn, Prasad advised the delegates to look at the positive side that has emerged out of the crisis. It includes better focus and decision making in companies, more willingness to innovate, more agile work culture and better customer solutions.

He concluded by sharing some call to action points for the leaders in organisations:

  • Have a more holistic rather than individualistic approach
  • Drive continuous change in the organisation
  • Be the role models for others to follow

After the information presentations, the programme moved into the interactive polling session.

On the first question regarding initiatives that are of highest priority in the current times, the delegates seemed equally split amongst all four options with a slightly higher inclination towards technology simplification (32%).

A senior delegate from a media company reflected that for him, understanding and motivating employees working remotely is the biggest challenge. It’s hard to encourage the employees to collaborate and coordinate when you have no physical contact with them.

On the next question about being well equipped to support a fully remote workforce, a major chunk of the delegates voted that they have all the tools required to allow remote work seamlessly (48%).

To this, a delegate from the National Library Board reflected that he voted for not fully supportive of the remote working because even though the employees have all the tools and technology they require to work from home, the problem is a loss of a personal connection; no tool or technology can help establish that connection.

On the final question of the biggest security challenge faced by organisations with a remote workforce, a majority of the audience voted for lack of robust tools to proactively detect malicious user-behaviour (40%).

An executive from the telecom industry shared that she voted for endpoint management because, with the flexibility to work remotely, employees are bringing in a number of their own devices that leads to major security issues and concerns. She also shared that this is not a challenge for their organisation currently, but they are putting in a lot of effort to avoid it.

The session concluded with closing remarks from Prem. He thanked all the delegates and speaker for joining the session and sharing their insights and feedback.

He re-emphasised the importance of people, the need to simplify processes and technology and the vital role of leadership in this process as some of the key takeaways from the session.

In closing, he invited delegates to learn more about this extremely important topic at the upcoming summits and sessions organised by Citrix.

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