At Citrix, we focus on how technology is changing the future of work by helping our customers enable their employees to be more agile, productive, and efficient. We know that a productive and creative workforce is vital to staying competitive in today’s dynamic global markets. So, how can companies get the most out of their most valuable resource: their people? A lot of organizations provide increased flexibility in the work environment in terms of where and when the work gets done.

Does this added flexibility actually make a difference? To gain more insight, Citrix partnered with Wakefield Research to survey nearly 1,300 office professionals in the U.S. Half of those respondents (50 percent) said that a flexible work environment increased employee productivity.

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 that provides employees 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 work harder, so it’s important to provide these apps and services in a unified secure digital workspace.

When organizations provide flexibility, research shows a correlation with better outcomes. In fact, the vast majority (87 percent) of office professionals whose companies have flexible work environments report that their companies have experienced positive outcomes from the model:

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

Flexibility is also critical for attracting the best and the brightest. The Wakefield survey revealed that 2 in 5 (40%) of office professionals would turn down a job opportunity if the company did not have a flexible work environment. When it comes to a competitive workforce, flexibility is the future.

That’s why a lot of technology vendors — including Citrix — offer products and services to provide greater workforce flexibility. 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. Kurt Roemer, our Chief Security Strategist, 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 to make sure they reflect the real world 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. Anytime 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 with a single control plane. Employees log in to 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 gain better insight 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. 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.