Change. It’s one aspect of the future of work that remains constant. Technology innovation is transforming the workplace. We’re seeing a generational shift as Baby Boomers retire and Millennials become the largest segment of the workforce. Globalization is fueling increasingly dynamic market conditions.

To compete in this environment, businesses increasingly need a workforce that is more agile, productive, and efficient. That’s why innovative managers are evaluating how they make changes to work environments and management practices to get more out of their most valuable resource: their people. To provide greater insight on what works for today’s workforce, Citrix partnered with Wakefield Research to survey nearly 1,300 office professionals in the U.S.

Feedback from those respondents revealed that 69 percent of office professionals report employees in their offices regularly work remotely, with 87 percent reporting positive outcomes, including:

  • Increased employee productivity (50 percent)
  • Increased employee morale (51 percent)
  • Reduced employee turnover (35 percent)
  • Attracting more talented job candidates (34 percent)

Why aren’t more businesses embracing flexibility? We discovered that half (50 percent) of office professionals who do not have a flexible work environment believe their companies would introduce flexibility if they had the technological capabilities to accommodate it. How can those companies gain the necessary technology capabilities?

By embracing cloud-based apps and services delivered as a unified, secure digital workspace employees are provided with the work resources they need, when and where they need them.

The survey results emphasize this point; in fact, 57 percent of the office professionals at companies with a flexible work environment currently use cloud-based apps, compared to only 38 percent of companies without a flexible work environment.

Respondents also see the cloud as critical to business success: 75 percent say companies without cloud-based apps will not be competitive. But it’s important to note that a random collection of cloud-based apps that require logging into multiple services — what we call Cloud Sprawl — can actually make working productively harder.

So, while a lot of vendors promise that their cloud-based services will boost productivity, it’s important to join cloud-based and on-premises applications in a unified secure digital workspace. To help you work through that process, here are three suggestions to help you along in your flexibility journey.

Make Cybersecurity A Priority

While implementing flexibility, it’s important for businesses to ensure those cloud based services and tools make security a priority as you select and implement new technologies. Our Chief Security Strategist, Kurt Roemer, offers five security best practices to make sure you keep your business and information safe.

First, educate everyone at your business about the importance of security, and how to use new-found flexibility safely. Extend the discussion beyond the office environment to encompass every other setting where work takes place, including homes, coffee shops and other locations that aren’t as secure as the office.

Engage line of business managers and decision makers to ensure that appropriate safeguards are built into each project right from the beginning.

Modernize and mobilize your security policies and make sure they reflect the real world that employees encounter. Create clear rules and guidelines to help employees stay safe as they exercise their freedom to work outside of the office.

Enforce policies fairly and consistently. This will make everyone more willing to follow your security rules.

And wherever you can, make security seamless—and automatic. Any time you can reduce extra steps and limits, you also reduce risks.

Make Flexible Access Easy and Unified

It’s important to make it easy for employees to access and use all of the apps, files, and other tools they need to work. While many organizations provide a level of flexibility, they also give employees a fragmented experience across apps and how they access them. They make their people log into different sites, using different identities and passwords. The result is lost productivity, security lapses, and calls to the IT help desk. We call this problem cloud sprawl.

Services like Citrix Workspace unify all apps, cloud services, data, network and identity services in a secure digital workspace within a single control plane. Employees log into one place where they can securely access everything they need to get their jobs done. This approach also makes the environment easier for the IT department to manage and secure.

Use Advanced Analytics Services with Cloud-based Apps

The most effective cloud-based services include access to advanced analytics that can provide powerful new insights into which applications employees use, what data they access, what problems they encounter, and how to make everything work even better. And that’s just the beginning. As people use more devices to access their apps from more locations, your business can get better insights into what employees need to serve customers and create new products. Your security team will be better able to monitor and anticipate potential risks and vulnerabilities to protect your business.

The bottom line is this: To be competitive, businesses need to embrace workforce flexibility, which increasingly requires cloud-based apps and services. Three important strategies for embracing flexibility include making cybersecurity a priority, making flexible access easy and unified, using advanced analytics as part of your cloud apps and services to make everything work better.

Look to Citrix to make flexibility work for your business.