IT and infrastructure giant Dell Technologies has found itself reexamining its own assumptions about the world of work and redefining all expectations, says Jennifer Saavedra, the company’s chief human resources officer. “At first I heard people say, ‘I just can’t wait to get back to doing things the way I used to.’ It’s never a strategy for success,” says Saavedra. “It’s about reflecting on the last 18 months. What have we learned? What are some of the big things we want to push forward? What were some of the these challenges or obstacles How to renew expectations?
Saavedra sees a lot of “big things”: opportunities to be more efficient, productive and inclusive, and ways for the reimagined workplace to achieve goals that were previously impossible.
For example, Dell’s sales force of over 25,000 could never meet in one place at once, let alone the army of human resources, finance and marketing personnel that support them. . Like many companies, Dell used to hold in-person training and leadership events for all sales managers, confident that the strategies and sense of purpose shared at those meetings would trickle down to the base. .
The pandemic has changed all that. As a result, managers could no longer meet in person, but everyone could meet virtually, on video conferencing platforms like Zoom. While it was a great opportunity to connect and communicate, figuring out how to engage so many people in a virtual environment was a challenge, says Saavedra. “You’re not just trying to replicate what you did in an in-person or classroom experience.”
Resources for developing skills or absorbing new content, often taught in groups or in the classroom at the time, moved online to Dell Learning Studio, which users could visit individually at their leisure. The group component of the events, now held virtually, emphasizes collaboration and networking. “Instead of having a leadership program or a training program, it is now a training experience or a leadership experience,” adds Saavedra. “This change in language actually reflects the change in design.”
Dell has redesigned its entire training function: for example, Individualized Learning Plans have expanded, increasing group training for each of its 15,000 engineers, across more functions, to fill gaps and specific knowledge requirements.
Embracing technology and culture, together
Redefining the workplace to be independent of a physical location required fundamental shifts in technology and organizational culture. Essentially, this has not meant redefining “work” as such, which remains focused on outcomes, such as productivity, innovation, communication, customer experience and other metrics key performance. But for many employees, these rapid and necessary changes have proven that the work environment can be flexible, collaborative and location-agnostic while still getting work done, perhaps even better than before. Their outcome – goal achievement – has largely replaced face time as the primary performance metric.
Global consulting firm Deloitte calls the new paradigm “distributed by design.” His research reveals that 77% of employees say they can be as or more productive working from home (although most believe they are productive about 58% of the time). “Employers should focus on improving the workforce experience by reducing mandatory meetings and emails and focusing on culture and wellbeing,” says Alex Braier, Director General and US Public Sector Lead for Organizational Strategy, Design and Transformation at Deloitte.
Dell’s data also reflects improved working conditions, including less stress and better relationships with co-workers. For example, more than half of organizations that implement a “hybrid” work model, i.e. incorporating a mix of in-office and remote work into employee schedules, report satisfaction and improved employee well-being.
Although many experienced managers are uncomfortable with the distributed workplace because they feel they can manage people better when they can see them, Braier says that’s a myth. “The percentage of workers you can see at any given time is very low. Performing work using virtual collaboration tools can allow you to collect massive amounts of data, and you can do a much better job of understanding how work is actually being done by mining that data.
Managers in an organization can use the metadata created on collaboration platforms to see the general pattern of employees who are collaborating and who is left out, who leads meetings and who attends. They can find out whether diverse groups and interests are represented on all relevant teams, which contributes to their organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Sticking to metadata, rather than tracking individual activity, maintains the anonymity of data mining, while allowing leaders to monitor the overall health of their distributed workforce.
Black Friday at Dell – like for many retailers, the most important sales day of the year – has always been a high-pressure, in-person event, with “war rooms” set up around the world to monitor and react to the performance of each individual. promotion and hundreds of employees working around the clock. Dell Chief Digital and Information Officer Jen Felch says the pandemic has forced a major overhaul: moving all dashboards from centralized war rooms to team members’ individual screens at home, and set up alerts so they don’t miss critical information. or opportunities to act in case they wander off.
The transformation was so successful that while the company could have considered returning at least partially to in-person set-up for 2021, it opted to continue “the pandemic route.” Thus, “people can stay at home. They can dine with their families,” and still be efficient, Felch says.
Download the full report.
This content was produced by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not authored by the editorial staff of MIT Technology Review.
- Activision Blizzard lawsuit: a timeline of key events and everything you need to know
- 19 Best Cryptocurrency Mining Platforms [High Performing Pool]
- 10 Employee Management Software for Small Scale Businesses
- How Slack changed Apple’s employee culture, with Zoë Schiffer
- 8 Workforce Scheduling Software to Increase Productivity