Middle ground
Gulf Business|February 2021
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SAVED MULTIPLE BUSINESSES FROM UNTIMELY DEMISE; IT WILL ALSO DRIVE IN THE NEW ERA OF THE HYBRID WORKPLACE
DAVID NDICHU

The initial foray into work-from-home in 2020 was forced – its permanence will be the result of more deliberate efforts.

As the Covid-19 fog dissipates, the benefits of flexible work models are becoming all too apparent. Global companies such as Microsoft have said most roles will remain remote while Twitter and Square have said more of their workforce can work from home permanently. In May 2020, Facebook said it would eventually begin allowing most of its employees to request a permanent change in their jobs to let them work remotely.

The change of heart is because businesses soon realised they can attain even better productivity from a remote workforce, observes Aongus Hegarty, president, International Markets, Dell Technologies. Employees too are expressing their feelings, making it well known they prefer this hybrid mode of working. Although most employees do not necessarily want to work 100 per cent remotely, many prefer to be in the office a few days a week and work the rest of the week from home, he adds.

Businesses are simply looking at doing things differently, says Chris Cooper, director and general manager, Lenovo Data Centre Group MEA. “Businesses are not expecting to go back to as it was. As they continue down their digital transformation, there’s an acceptance that there will be a higher degree of mobile working.”

That is all well and good, but the permanence of hybrid work models will require businesses to re-evaluate their technology stack. IT systems in existence were largely designed for a predominantly office-bound workforce. Although the technology for the remote workforce such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has been in existence for a while, few organisations took an interest. There’s no fast rule for how to enable a remote workforce. A good place to start is to identify the job profile of your employees, says Hegarty. “Some employees are involved in transactional tasks so a VDI solution favours them. Some require mobility solutions as they will be required to operate from multiple locations. Others work with a lot of data, so they’ll need a powerful desktop or laptop.”

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