Lifting the curtains on the on-demand office

Will the corporate world finally reset how it works?

Lifting the curtains on the on-demand office

by Neville Vincent of Nutanix

There have been plenty of movies about pandemics, but the storylines rarely feature work-from-home regimes, let alone a final act of multiple vaccine rollouts, writes Neville Vincent of Nutanix

 Digital networks – and the applications and solutions that run on them – have made this pandemic different. Australia’s digital ecosystem has given many workers the autonomy to choose where and how they work, while complying with government restrictions.

 Now, with more than a year of remote work under our belts, the corporate world is facing a once in a lifetime opportunity to completely reset the way it works.

 The long-touted ‘telecommunicating’ – a curiosity previously reserved for a few forward-thinking companies – has gone mainstream.

 As companies move on from the stop-gap measures deployed during the pandemic and focus on more innovative, strategic imperatives, the marvel of “work from anywhere” will become a long-term phenomenon, and the world of entertainment is a blockbuster trailer for what to expect.

Read more: Is it too dangerous to bring staff back to the office?

Teasing the future of work

 Even before the COVID-19 entered our collective consciousness, the entertainment industry was providing a preview of things to come.

Instead of going to a specific location to indulge in entertainment, a digital, on-demand ecosystem was providing the experience people were looking for, when and where they want to enjoy it.

Streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus are seeing huge demand in Australia, with 88 per cent of Australians now using at least one online streaming app. In fact, the pandemic-related streaming boom has seen the Netflix video giant grow its local revenue by 17 per cent. 

 This ubiquitous ability to consume content has made older distribution systems, like hotel in-room movies and video rental stores, obsolete. Our expectations are constantly evolving, and this has impacted long-standing upstream distribution models, forcing previously untouchable entertainment industry giants to adapt or perish. 

 Now, after the past 18 months we’ve all endured, we’re seeing a similar evolution in thinking about where and how we work in the corporate world.

The ‘on-demand’ office

 One great example of this evolution is Suncorp New Zealand. As an industry predicated on privacy, having insurers working from home was previously unheard of.

 Following its success shifting 98 per cent of its employees to full-time remote work within 48 hours of last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns, Suncorp NZ has validated its infrastructure-first approach to digital transformation and is now accelerating its appetite for hybrid working, leveraging Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) with its built-in security capabilities.

This shift to more flexible working arrangements can also be dubbed the ‘on-demand office’ – a model that repositions work from a fixed-location to a consumable activity, accessible anywhere at any time through solutions like VDI and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS).

While companies in the past have half-heartedly tried to gamify their processes to increase productivity, the entertainment sector is now inspiring more meaningful change and providing other industries with a framework for improvement. 

Read more: Collaborative work spaces: More than just removing partitions

Best tools attract best talent

With no more than a screen and an internet connection, movies and TV shows can be streamed anywhere at any time. But the ticket to an engaged and effective hybrid workforce, however, requires a little more plumbing.

Powering the more ‘exciting’ parts of the future workforce demands organisations to first consider their physical and digital building blocks – the IT environment.

They need a scalable and simple cloud-based technology infrastructure to successfully enable the enhanced, blended virtual work experience businesses desire.

“Our infrastructure means we have no constraints and are in a position to focus on our business transformation,” adds Suncorp NZ’s general manager Technology and Transformation, Jane Brewer.

“This approach has helped us attract and retain high-performing employees who believe in the value of what we do and are committed to continuously doing more for our customers.”  

It’s not hard to imagine that the next generation of talent will appraise future employers based on their technical savvy and ability to adapt working systems to modern expectations.

The appetite among younger talent for digital nomad working models is on the uptick. In fact, a study by LinkedIn found that job seekers were increasingly excluding roles that did not offer remote work from their searches.

 

With this in mind, it makes sense why Australian tech darling, Atlassian, is telling its staff they can work from anywhere forever, and announcing plans to recruit talent regardless of where they are.

While recruiting the best talent is a perennial issue for businesses across Australia, so too are the drives to improve company efficiency and increase employee morale. Shifting to the ‘on-demand office’ will be key to achieving these three competitive priorities, and will ultimately separate the blockbusters from the Blockbusters.

 

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