Opinion

Connected workspace is the future of work

Alok Ohrie | Updated on June 17, 2020 Published on June 17, 2020

Remote solutions that empower employees to work flexibly, and organisations to manage effectively, are the need of the hour

In the last decade, internet penetration and the increasing availability of greater bandwidth has resulted in an unprecedented transformation in the workplace. It is now possible to work remotely, even in professions that require high volumes of data transfer. Organisations can bring workplace to the employees, rather than employees to the workplace.

The Industrial Revolution brought with it the concept of many people working under one roof. With the coming of Industry 4.0 it is time to abandon the construct of a single-location 9-to-5 workplace and embrace the distributed team work-model. Technology is creating virtual, connected workspaces that deliver high productivity at lower costs, without physical clustering.

Led by early adopters in IT and technology, distributed teams are becoming the new normal for many businesses. According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people who work from home has increased by 140 per cent since 2005. By 2018, 4.3 million people were already working remotely in the US, which by the end of 2019, grew to seven million.

Supported by ubiquitous connectivity, a host of cloud-based collaboration tools and employee-facing technologies, remote working is increasingly acceptable to both the employee and the organisation. According to Buffer’s recent ‘The 2020 State of Work’ report, of 3,500 employees surveyed from across the world, 57 per cent work from home 100 per cent of the time. Greater autonomy, flexible working hours, better work-life balance, and no commuting makes it an attractive proposition for employees. Employees also report 79 per cent increased productivity working from home.

Major gains

For organisations, there are significant gains and cost savings. Companies can scale up rapidly without investing in workspace, reaching out to diverse demographies and hiring the best talent from across the globe. According to PGi, the average real estate savings with full-time remote employees is $10,000 per employee per year. Dell, which launched its flexible Work from Home policy more than ten years ago, reported $12 million in annual savings from reduced office space costs in 2016.

Employees save both time and money on commuting. According to Forbes, allowing a worker to telecommute even half the time can save a company more than $11,000 a year and result in 21 per cent higher profitability. Globally, this translates into less carbon emissions and an eco-friendlier world.

However, working remotely brings its own challenges. With greater autonomy, no face-to-face interaction or over-the shoulder monitoring, how can organisations ensure that employees working remotely remain productive, efficient and deliver at optimum levels? Remote organisations must shift their focus onto deliveries and output, and set clear expectations, deadlines and accountability.

A Remote Work Policy for employees, on the same lines as an in-house policy, ensures that everyone is on the same page and understands the company’s work environment and expectations.

Employees should follow robust processes that improve team efficiency, with performance metrics guiding them in reaching targets. Project management tools are vital for remote teams. This allows everybody to report on progress, and plan and handle job queues based on a clearly visible pipeline. It lets the organisation keep track of what team members are doing to meet their deadlines, and where they are falling short.

Remote working requires a paradigm shift from local, on-premise work nucleus comprising office tools, local drives and email to a cloud-based work nucleus comprising collaborative project management tools, in-cloud data and messaging, all of which foster agile behaviours and a digital dexterous workforce.

Flexible working

Dell is now one of the top 20 companies hiring remote employees and flexible working is in our DNA, with nearly 60 per cent of employees working flexibly and reporting a Net Promoter Score that’s typically 20 per cent higher than those who don’t. Today, employees, organisations and society are being forced to conduct an unprecedented, large-scale remote-working experiment. Adoption will not be easy for many, and challenges and obstacles will surface.

We have developed the infrastructure, automation, monitoring tools and network topology to provide a seamless and secure environment to work from home, enabling employees to be productive from any location. We have the qualified technology stack with end-to-end connectivity, endpoint security, remote desktops and ready-to-go hardware that ships directly to end-users.

Virtualisation technologies such as Virtual Storage Area Networks and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, enable employees to work anywhere, anytime, on any device and on any application. Dell's simplified solutions are providing fast, efficient and seamless experience at a low Total Cost of Ownership. Our flexible and robust solutions support seamless collaboration and minimise data risk, helping organisations to maintain business continuity.

Today we have a great opportunity to prepare for the future, when artificial intelligence, smart workspaces and talent markets will expand the share of knowledge workers in the economy. Gartner predicts that by 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30 per cent, when Generation Z fully enters the workforce. It is time to usher in a new era of business agility, reliability and control, in step with that future. Remote solutions that empower employees to work flexibly, and organisations to manage effectively, are the need of the hour.

The writer is President and Managing Director, Dell Technologies, India

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Published on June 17, 2020
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