Workshifting gains popularity in Africa

Posted on August 29, 2012 08:01 pm

An international research company recently concluded study shows that companies in sub Saharan Africa are now in favour of workshifting.This is practice where employees work from anywhere where they are comfortable whether at home or even at coffee shops as has been the norm in my home country of Australia. According to the report, 66% of African companies support workshifting.Research also shows that moving towards cloud computing and into a workshifting culture inevitable. Taking an example of myself and the general working culture at Somocon Oy , work isn’t a place. At Somocon, we work from wherever we are and going to the office is not a must or a condition for any of us to work.In my own assessment, to go into the office to work feels like a last generation kind of practice.No offense to those who have to enter an office on a daily basis.I recall when massive floods hit Queenslanders in 2010, it wiped out many company premises and only survivor was Suncorp Insurance that had made the move to cloud computing, so it was one of the few companies that could still respond to the massive number of customer calls.

Allowing employees to be able to work away from the office has various benefits for companies operating in Africa.They will be able to save money on office space and utility bills which are thrice the rate in most western countries, while workers will save time and money since they don’t need to commute to and from the office on a daily basis bearing in mind the chronic transport problem in most African countries.Flexibility to choose where to work encourages employees to stick with their company.Companies that have been practicing workshifting in Africa, workers are given a sum of money to purchase a device they want and are free to install anything they want, while still having secure access to the company network and apps through virtualisation. Also, Bring Your Own Device is also gathering momentum in the continent with many companies encouraging their staff to take that path.Embracing workshifting demand changes in how employees accesses the company network and related software.

As a result of security fears and tightly controlled IT environment, a central server is set up where only employees with strictly monitored, company owned gadgets and notebooks are given remote access. In most cases I have come across during my trips in Africa, an employee can only install applications that are approved by the employer which means that the employee has to have both a personal device for private use and a company device for office usage.Two months ago, I spoke to an insider of a company that has fully embraced the workshifting culture who revealed to me that his company is moving from the tightly managed, central-server-and to the less restrictive cloud based and Bring Your Own Device system especially with iOS and Android powered devices. He told me it’s not about technology anymore in Sub Saharan Africa countries but it’s about a convenient working environment and satisfying employer demands.Just like Lady Gaga song goes..There is nothing else I can say…. secure work environments is all what is needed not brick and mortar.

Contador Harrison