Embracing the hybrid work model with Dell Technologies

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As the conversation shifts from ‘the digital workplace’ to ‘the hybrid workplace’, Tara Gale, client solutions product manager at Dell Technologies outlines the practicalities of work under the new model

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10 September 2021 | 0

In association with Dell Technologies

A gradual return to the workplace is set to kick off from 20 September under the government’s reopening roadmap. While remote work is still advised where possible, many businesses are keen to get back to the office in some capacity. For guidance on the practicalities of a hybrid work or blended model, wherein employees split their time between remote and office-based work, we caught up with Tara Gale, client solutions product manager at Dell Technologies. 

Hybrid work 

Embracing a hybrid work model may require us to re-examine our traditional concepts of what work looks like, says Gale. “Hybrid workforce strategies go far beyond remote work. It’s not about being in one place. Work is an activity, not a location.” 

 

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Many of the conceptions around the ‘workplace of the future’ fundamentally challenge our traditional ideas of what work is. One of the more dramatic re-examinations is the idea of outcome-based work versus time-based work. It’s the notion that an employee’s productivity should be measured by achieving outcomes, instead of working a certain set of hours. “It’s a huge mindset shift,” says Gale, “especially for the CEOs who are used to paying staff to work from 9 to 5, but we really have to be open to these ideas.

“We’re at a point now where we’re hoping to get back to the office, albeit it won’t be what we knew prior to Covid-19,” says Gale. “It’s going to look different; it’s going to feel different; and hopefully it’ll operate in a different way.”

Productivity changes

Dell recently conducted a global survey with over 2,000 global participants to answer the age-old question – what impact does remote working have on productivity? Among its results, it found that collaborative work is far more productive when conducted in the office, despite all the fantastic tools we have on hand. Same goes for managing staff; it found face-to-face contact makes a significant difference there. 

Still, many tasks were just as productive at home as in the office. “We found that technical work can be done anywhere,” says Gale. “Answering phone calls, attending to emails, doing conference calls, these tasks are equally as productive whether you’re at home or the office. 

It’s creative, deep, thoughtful tasks that employees perform more effectively when working remotely. “That can be difficult in an office with a lot of distractions. But in a quieter environment, someone can really gain that focus they need. That’s where companies really started to profit, because that’s where innovation comes from, where deep thought comes from. Based on feedback from our customers, 84% named improving employee productivity a critical or a high priority.”

Digital collaboration

It seems we’ve all become comfortable collaborating in the new digital workplace. Going forward, however, collaboration will get a new face again. “It will be different to how we’ve seen it over the last 18 months – which has been us talking on the phone, or a video call – in the future, it’ll be a mixture of face-to-face and virtual.”

“We’ll never be in the situation where everybody’s in the office ever again,” says Gale. “If you’re based in Dublin, and one of the team lives in Kerry, they probably won’t come down for an hour-long meeting. That’s why companies will need to be able to create breakout spaces in offices where collaborative equipment is available. Then, that person in Kerry can feel just as part of that meeting as those sitting face-to-face.”

“Collaborate like you’re there with video conferencing monitors certified for Microsoft Teams featuring integrated IR camera, dual 5W speakers and a dedicated Microsoft Teams button to team up instantly. With USB-C connectivity and built in ethernet port you can offer your users a seamless experience without adding the complexity of a docking station whilst still leaving IT in control. These monitors are available in a variety of sizes and resolutions making them ideal for home office or smaller collaboration areas within the main office.”

Meanwhile, Dell recently launched its first portable FHD 14” monitor. The ultimate laptop companion, it will enable users to experience dual-screen productivity anywhere. 

“For larger areas or conferencing rooms we have the Dell Large Format Monitors,” Gale continues. “Captivate your in-room and remote audience with Large Format Monitors that provide brilliant 4K resolutions in a variety of sizes (55’, 70’, 75’ and 86’) and advanced digital whiteboarding technology. The built in PC makes them the most secure and manageable devices for IT and due to its modular design can be designed to fit into any environment, no matter what the requirements.”

Collaboration accessories 

In today’s working world, the webcam, speaker, and headset are some of the most valuable tools in our arsenal. That’s world’s away from where we used to be, where few had HD webcams, and others kept theirs permanently sealed out of security concerns. “Before Covid-19, only 5% of people ever used video conferencing,” adds Gale, “and it was normally used in a video conferencing room in an office.”

“Having a good home office setup is key to being productive, but it’s not necessarily about the laptop you’re using,” says Gale. “It’s all the peripherals – your camera, your microphone, even your chair.”

Gale recommends a speakerphone that doubles as an adapter: “This world’s first multi-port adapter with integrated speakerphone offers a variety of connectivity options, while its built-in speakerphone offers great conferencing convenience. Now you can charge your laptop while being connected to a display and your keyboard and mouse, plus get on a conference call – all at the same time.”

When it comes to webcams, she says the Dell Ultrasharp 4k webcam is a video must have. “Our 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) webcam with a large 4K Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor captures more light delivering crystal-clear video and the best image quality in its class. Digital Overlap HDR delivers true-to-life colour in extreme lighting environments, while 3D/2D video noise reduction automatically eliminates motion blur and grainy images, even in low light–so you always look great. As the world’s most intelligent 4K webcam, advanced AI auto framing works to always stay focused on what matters most – you. It keeps you at the centre of the picture no matter where you move.”

IT pressure

When we were forced to rapidly change the way we work 18-months ago, many companies scrambled to meet their staff’s remote working needs. “When we emptied out the offices, IT teams were working under tough conditions, sending people home with what they had on hand, or buying whatever was available. But of course, some of that was ill-fitting or ill-suited to the reality of many roles.”

Looking towards the future, the tools we use will need to be a lot more intelligent. They should work with how we want to work. “Now is the time to correct tools and the technology to allow for the best hybrid-work experience,” says Gale. “We should further consumerise interfaces to allow for a more level playing field among those consuming the technology.”

“Workers should have access to modern, intelligent, secure and high performing PCs that allow them to do their best work from anywhere,” says Gale. “Our latitude Laptops are the best in class with built in artificial intelligence helping the user be more productive. Dell Optimiser is an always on tool that utilises artificial intelligence to learn how you work. Sensing the users behaviour across many parameters, making sense of that telemetry data on the system and determining their unique usage patterns, and finally taking action in the background on behalf of the user by adjusting the settings.”

Gale continues: “Our latitude 9520 is the most intelligent device released to date with the full suite of Optimiser features, 5G capabilities and built-in top firing speakers making it a full collaboration device without the need for added peripherals.”

Investment 

“From talking to customers, I know that investing in hardware is one of the biggest concerns right now. Going forward, we’re going to need modernised equipment in the office, but it all needs to be standardised. The monitor needs to be able to connect to both your laptop and my laptop. It needs to be quick and easy; you want to be able to connect and be ready to go, the experience should be seamless for all.”

“We want to make it really easy for our partners to be able to quote, order and deploy through Exertis,” says Gale. “They can supply and deliver our full end user portfolio including the much needed and highly valued client peripherals. Exertis also holds stock on many of our platforms, allowing for speedy and efficient delivery. The team are highly trained and on hand to assist or advise you in any aspect of the return to office or hybrid workplace requirements.”

Limitations

At this stage in the game, the novelty of working from home has worn off. There’s been much discourse around ‘Zoom fatigue’, or employees feeling disconnected from their companies. It seems that employers and employees alike are keen to return to the office in some capacity. Still, Gale says we may have some way to go before that can be fully realised. 

“The reality is that IT teams might not be quite there yet,” says Gale. “As well as finding the right hardware, they still have to pilot a lot of new tools and processes, seat reservations, hot-desking policies, applications for medical checks. There’s still a huge amount of learning to do. IT and employees will, somewhere soon find a lovely equilibrium. But there’s still a lot to set straight before we’re ready to adapt to the new world.”

To view Exertis Ireland’s dedicated Dell portal and Server Configurator Tool, please visit: https://dell.exertisireland.ie

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