Four-day work week: What it means for business infrastructure

Johannesburg, 12 Dec 2023
Moving towards the modern workplace.
Moving towards the modern workplace.

The recent success of four-day workweek trials in South Africa could signal a dramatic change to workplaces in South Africa, driving the adoption of better collaboration, security and compliance tools.

This is according to Crimson Line, a managed IT and cloud service specialist consultancy and Microsoft Managed Gold Partner.

Theo Wilken, Sales Director at Crimson Line, says: “A four-day work week is becoming a very real possibility in South Africa. But it should be noted that in the South African trials, there was a preference for flexibility around which additional day staff members took off. This means that we can expect increasingly fluid hybrid and remote work environments, with staff checking in and attending to urgent work-related matters from wherever they are, all the time. Automation will inevitably play a role in helping organisations get more done in a shorter space of time.

“There has also been an increase in the number of people ‘semigrating’ to smaller and coastal towns seeking better lifestyles. This means more remote and hybrid workforces, which will increase organisations’ need for communications and collaboration tools that are secure, compliant and both office and remote workforce friendly,” he says.

Louis Koen, Crimson Line founder and owner, notes that several factors must be considered to assure security and compliance, productivity and a positive work experience for employees in a changing workplace.

Security and compliance

A key concern in recent years has been security and compliance – and for good reason, Koen says. “Workforces, partners and customers need to share information and documents with the assurance that organisations are managing the risks of data being leaked internally or externally. Where in the past, everyone sat in one office where data was easier to secure, workforces have become far more mobile, making security and compliance more of a challenge. Microsoft offers all the tools needed to manage this risk, but many organisations aren’t aware of them or don’t know how to deploy those tools,” he says.

“Microsoft 365 offers numerous services but comes with a standard configuration that may not meet certain requirements in South Africa. Crimson Line has built templates based on best practice for US government departments, which we use to help companies enhance security and compliance. We also support training and built an incident response plan to help organisations secure their data,” he says.

Crimson Line also highlights the risks of work devices such as phones and laptops being lost or stolen as employees travel and work from various locations. Wilken says it is important to have the ability to remotely lock and wipe devices that are lost and stolen, as well as to deploy the necessary software to the remote worker quickly, to avoid downtime.

Koen says: “We have developed a robust, enterprise-grade solution to address areas of risk. We assess potential gaps in each organisation’s security posture, present a roadmap to address the risks, and design and implement policies and solutions to make them more secure and compliant. In our early assessments, we find few – if any – organisations are above the necessary standards for compliance and security. While awareness is generally high, internal implementation of risk mitigation is low.”

Secure, inclusive meetings and collaboration

“Meetings need to be both office and remote worker-friendly, serving to support productivity across the board,” Koen says.

Crimson Line emphasises the importance of high-quality voice and video experience whether participants are in the boardroom, at home or working from a coffee shop. Crimson Line’s Microsoft Teams Rooms address this need, with integration into existing AV equipment and the ability to derive full value from Microsoft Teams.

Wilken adds that Microsoft Teams has all the capabilities to serve as the touchpoint for all office collaboration and communication. “It’s not just a video collaboration tool – it integrates with everything in the Office stack and can become the centre of daily activity in an organisation. When organisations are making full use of Teams, hybrid and remote workforces stay on top of every development at the office, from wherever they are.” However, since many organisations don’t make optimal use of all the Teams features at their disposal, Crimson Line offers training and support to help them achieve full value from the tool.

Crimson Line says the Microsoft Cloud, through Office 365 or Microsoft 365 (Modern Workplace), offers hybrid workforces an effortless way to share documents, collaborate in real-time and keep data secure and POPI compliant.

Adapting to the changing needs of an increasingly mobile and hybrid workforce requires changes to several of the old, established office practices and traditional tools, the company says. Crimson Line can help identify areas for improvement and implement advanced collaboration and productivity tools to better secure data and support productivity in the modern workplace.

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