A majority (60%) of IT decision makers from North European countries believe the ability to work remotely leads to increased productivity, and it is no longer necessary to be confined to an office to be productive, according to a study held in the North European region and published by Cisco. Although these IT decision makers believe technology allows them to be more mobile and flexible, more than half (56%) of those surveyed, led by those in Norway and The Netherlands, work one or more extra hours per day as a result of the ability to work remotely.
In Northern Europe, there is a growing need for remote access to the company network, social media access in the workplace and for the freedom to use personal devices for business purposes, also known as ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD). This trend has a tremendous impact on the IT policies of organizations and among end users who are employed by companies with IT policies, as the study also found that nearly half (47%) indicate their IT policy could use improvement or updating. These are the main conclusions of an online survey held by Cisco in five countries: Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands.
In addition, the survey found that when faced with the choice between ‘a higher salary and no remote access’ versus a ‘lower salary position that offers remote access’, end users are split, with one out of every two respondents (53%) opting for a lower salary, because they find work flexibility more important. With little differentiation across the countries, more than 6 out of 10 (65%) end users expect to have remote access to the network in the future.
Looking at the use of mobile devices, end users from Northern European countries tend to use more than one device during the typical workday: more than 8 in 10 (82%) end users indicate they use at least one device at work that is not company-issued. More than half (51%) of the surveyed IT decision makers even indicate that up to 50% of their company’s mobile workers use a smartphone as their primary communication device.
Overall, most businesses in the surveyed countries have at least taken some steps to prepare for a ‘mobile and distributed’ workforce. Still 1 in 5 IT decision makers (21%) indicate that their company is as yet completely unprepared. The highest percentage of unprepared businesses is reported in Norway (26%). In The Netherlands, 14% of decision makers indicate that their company is totally unprepared. In each country, roughly one-third (36%) indicate they are actively working towards enabling a mobile, distributed workforce, especially in the Netherlands (45%). Surprisingly, although Norway reports the largest percentage of completely unprepared companies, it also has the highest proportion of companies that already have state-of-the-art IT support for a ‘mobile and distributed’ workforce (34%), together with Denmark (31%). In that respect, Netherlands (14%) and Belgium (12%) trail the pack.
Few end users (less than 1 in 5, 19%) report that access to social media type websites and applications is restricted at the workplace. Likewise, about 6 in 10 IT decision makers (59%), particularly those in Denmark, feel that access to social media sites and applications are important for the work-life balance, or staying competitive with other businesses that use them.
Niels Furu (Vice President, Northern Europe, Cisco): Our Workforce Survey in Northern Europe confirms that employees really want an open and flexible workplace environment. The survey indicates that IT decision makers want to accommodate this requirement and in a secure way enable a mobile, distributed workforce. Most end users in the surveyed countries indicate that they work an extra hour or more per day because of their ability to work remotely. This shows BYOD brings the productivity we are looking for.
Remote Access and Mobility
- While the vast majority (68%) of IT decision makers indicate that it is critical for employees to be able to connect to the corporate network anywhere and anytime, end users tend to be divided. About one in four believes it is critical to be connected all the time, while 4 in 10 indicate that this is not imperative.
- Similar to the worldwide study conducted by Cisco in 2011 across 14 countries, not being able to access information due to physical location continues to be the greatest limitation to remote access, according to end users who have this capability. Roughly 4 in 10 (40%) indicate that location poses no restriction to remote access.
- Only a small proportion of end users who do not currently have remote access believe their company is open to this idea. The largest proportion indicate their job role is the primary obstacle keeping them from working remotely. Overall, the majority feel that this is not a big issue for them and the ability to work remotely is still a privilege in today’s world – not a right.
- About 3 in 4 end users rely on cellular or WLAN connections for job performance outside the workplace and for nearly half, these are the primary types of network connections.
- IT decision makers indicate that satisfying user demand for mobile device connectivity is the primary driver for wireless LAN adoption. In Denmark, more than half indicate that guest access is a primary driver.
- Most end users (84%) report using two or more devices during a typical workday.
- More than half (51%) of IT decision makers indicate that up to 50% of their company’s mobile workers use a smartphone as their primary communication device. Relative to Norway, a significantly larger proportion of end users in Belgium use their mobile phone for work. Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) end users are allowed to use their personal PC or Mac for work.
- Approximately half of the surveyed end users are restricted from using personal devices for work purposes and for access to the corporate network.
- More than one-third (37%) of end users expect access from a personal mobile device.
- Overall, fewer than 1 in 5 (19%) end users from the total sample indicate that their company currently restricts access to online games, social networking and Twitter. Restricted access to sites tends to be more prevalent in Belgium than in other countries.
- Access restrictions tend to be stricter worldwide relative to Northern European countries, as roughly 4 in 10 end users worldwide indicated being restricted from accessing online gaming and social networking.
Security and IT policy
- More than one-third (36%) of IT decision makers indicate they are actively working towards enabling a mobile, distributed workforce. More than half (57%) indicate that security is their biggest challenge.
- Data lost outside of the organization continues to be a great concern for IT decision makers. However, just under half (40%) of them believe that just as much data is leaked or lost when employees are outside the company as when they are in in the office.
- While most IT decision makers (66%) believe employees are concerned about security threats when remotely accessing corporate information outside the office, just 44% of end users are worried about this.
- Risk behaviour such as sharing work computers and sensitive information externally tends to be significantly more prevalent in Sweden and Belgium than in other Northern European countries.
- About 8 in 10 IT decision makers (78%), driven by a significantly large proportion in Norway and Denmark, indicate their company has an IT policy outlining acceptable uses of company resources such as personal computers, cellular telephones and smartphones.
- However, fewer than half of end users (45%) are aware their company has an IT policy. This awareness is lowest among end users in Belgium and the Netherlands. Significantly larger proportions of end users in Sweden and Denmark are aware that their company has an IT policy of acceptable uses.
- Among those who are aware of the IT policy, nearly half of employees do not adhere to it “all the time” and feel that it could be improved.
- There is a clear difference in perception between IT decision makers and end users on the importance of video for business communication in the coming years. While 60% of IT decision makers feel its importance of video will increase, only 14% of end users expect to be using video in the next two years.
- About 4 in 10 end users, driven by a considerably large proportion in Sweden, can currently use video at their workplace. More than half of those who actually use video, indicate this is mainly for training and education purposes – including a significantly large proportion in Norway (75%).
- About one quarter (28%) of end users, driven by a significant proportion in Belgium, expect video to become one of the most important modes of communication at work.
- Top priorities for IT decision makers over the next 3 years are to better manage resource capacity and to improve agility and speed in the deployment of business applications.
- Leading technologies and trends that are most important to achieve data center goals over that same period include cloud computing and mobile access to information for employees.
- The majority of IT decision makers from the total sample indicate that their primary strategy for achieving those top priorities is cloud computing, particularly in the Netherlands. In Denmark, that primary strategy is unified data center fabric, in order to unify SAN and LAN data traffic.
- Although fewer than 1 in 4 IT decision makers already use cloud-based computing, more than half are currently planning to adopt this or are considering its business value.
- About 6 in 10 (59%) IT decision makers see the role of the network in their company’s data center increasing over the next 3 years.
- 4 in 10 IT decision makers anticipate that 50% or more of their company’s production servers will be virtualized over the next 3 years.
- The online survey completed in February 2012, by 523 end users and 503 IT decision makers (ITDMs).
- The survey was held 5 countries to gain approximately 100 completes for each subgroup in each country (~200 total completes per country).
- Respondents were screened to meet the following criteria:
– Adults (22+)
– Employed (full or part time)
– Not employed by a company in market research or nonprofit industry
– Employed by an organization that employs 10+ people worldwide
– End users: 50% Male / 50% Female; not employed by a company in the IT consulting industry
– IT Decision Makers: CIO, CSO, CISO, VP of IT, Director of IT, Network Manager/IT Manager, IT Administration, IT Consultant, with at least some influence on the purchasing decisions for their company’s security hardware and software.