Businesses across the globe have been strong-armed by the coronavirus pandemic into overhauling established ways of working.
Many firms previously hesitant to allow employees off the leash have come to recognize that the benefits of a remote-first model – including access to a wider talent pool and improved work-life balance – do not come at the expense of productivity.
However, as countries begin to relax lockdown measures, it remains to be seen to what extent the changes made necessary by the pandemic will remain in place in the long term.
According to Richard Rawcliffe, VP & GM, UK Public Sector at Dell Technologies, it is vital that ground gained in the march towards modernization as a result of the unhappy pandemic isn’t surrendered once restrictions on life and work have been lifted.
“We’ve all learned a lot [since the start of lockdown], and it would be almost a tragedy if we then went backwards and reverted to the way things were,” he told TechRadar Pro.
Future of work
Unlike many businesses, Dell Technologies has long been a proponent of remote and flexible working. The company’s flirtation with remote work began circa 11 years ago with the introduction of its Connected Workplace initiative.
According to Rawcliffe, roughly 65% of the Dell workforce were afforded a level of flexibility even prior to the pandemic, with 40,000-50,000 employees working remotely at any given time.
For this reason, the firm was as well equipped as any when the need arose to transition to a universal remote working system. But Rawcliffe recognizes that many businesses weren’t so lucky.
“There are a number of organizations that probably thought their infrastructure was good enough, and are now finding that good enough isn’t actually good enough,” he said. “It was built for the way in which they were working [prior to the pandemic], without offering that crucial level of flexibility.”
“The reality is that the global pandemic has been more influential in driving digital transformation than almost any other factor. Where the opportunity has been taken to modernize infrastructure and automate processes that surround existing working practices – those are the [companies] that have transformed their businesses.”
For Rawcliffe, who himself has worked from home on and off for 30 years, the move back to some semblance of normality represents a pivotal moment for businesses, which must decide whether to lean in to remote-first culture, or not.
“[The widespread transition to remote working] has validated the things we’ve always wanted to talk about with our customers. We’ve all got a chance now to change how we think about work – and work is no longer all about going to the office.”