It is becoming increasingly clear that hybrid working models are here to stay. With hybrid work becoming the new norm, it goes without saying that organisations need to rethink their strategies in order to stay relevant and thrive. With new strategies, come new challenges.
The right set of tools, is key. As per the Dell Technologies Remote Work Readiness Index report, as many as 32 percent of employees in India said, they need the right technology assets to be productive. Keeping them safe, secure, and up-to-date, is also paramount.
In a freewheeling conversation with Financial Express Online’s Saurabh Singh, Senior Vice President & General Manager (Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China) of Client Solutions Group at Dell Technologies, Jean-Guillaume Pons, breaks down the findings of the survey, gives us valuable insights on some of the best practices to embrace a connected workplace, and talk in general about the power of the PC.
— What are some of the major differences between the markets (Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea) surveyed, when it comes to hybrid work culture? In what areas are they similar?
Every market is operating differently but there are some common themes, too. One, we’re seeing companies shifting to remote or hybrid working and equipping their employees with the right technology. The second reaction we’re seeing across markets is that after doing it fast, our customers want to do it right. You need to react fast, as a company, but then you need to ensure you have the right tools, processes, policies, and technologies in place to really enable your employees to be productive within this new environment.
— Hybrid work is here to stay, your thoughts and the India context in all this?
We know that hybrid work is here to stay and majority of the companies and people we surveyed said that they’re going to continue working in a hybrid work culture. When you think about hybrid work culture, you think about, do you have the technology, do you have the right collaboration tools, do you have the right policies, how is HR supporting that, what flexibility do you give to the employees. We’re seeing that across all markets.
More specifically on India, we’re also seeing a huge growth in the education space on top of the commercial space because whatever is applicable to work from anywhere is the same for learn from everywhere as well, and that’s why we’re also providing students and local governments learning solutions through our solutions portfolio.
The PC market in India is growing pretty fast. In Q3 2021 based on IDC numbers, the market grew around 48% year over year. That’s pretty big and honestly Dell has been part of this growth and definitely we (have) achieved faster growth than any vendor in this market which means that our solutions are resonating to address the needs of our customers that could be enterprise, small businesses, schools, you name it, to address the trends we’re seeing and to help them operate in this hybrid environment which is here to stay.
— Can you talk a bit about the readiness and scale of the Indian market, specifically?
India is having the same challenges we’re seeing in other markets. As per our survey, what we’re seeing in India is, roughly speaking, the same as what we’re seeing in other markets. First, the employees in India are saying that the top technology challenges they are facing are the use of the personal productivity tools at work. The second one is the stability of the remote network, the internet bandwidth and the access to the internal company resources. India employees are also saying that they need more training and a more adapted training for remote working. Then there are the concerns about how we’re going to continue engaging with people, both virtually and physically.
The PC market in India has been growing much faster than other markets, which indicates that the digitalisation of the country is accelerating.
— What are some of your focus areas at Dell? Take us through some of the nitty-gritties of working at Dell, in these challenging times.
We believe that work is not tied to where you are but to what you do. What matters is the outcome. We start from that strategy and that concept. We implemented a flexible working programme at Dell Technologies 10 years ago, so we are potentially more advanced compared to other companies that do not have the experience we have. We treated that as a strategic business initiative where we allowed our employees to choose their work style and the work site that best fulfilled their needs for delivering to their job and their life in the mobile collaborative and flexible work setting. We call it “connected workplace”. The main goal is to empower the employees, designing the ideal work arrangements, it could be remote, it could be flexible hours, could be how you collaborate with your colleagues, and we’ve seen pretty big change over the years where more than 60 percent of our employees have registered for the programme.
To enable that, you need to have the right technology. You need to have a business initiative to drive that to ensure you provide flexibility to operate in this new world. While we’re doing that, we also need to continue focusing on how we can improve the programme so our employees stay productive and successful in that remote working capacity. At the same time, there are constant things we need to continue evolving into that. Mental health is a big challenge and so we’re providing health support to our employees. We are providing management support. We have adjusted some of our ways to work with flexible arrangements.
— What is the role of a “leader” in the current times?
There are three critical things that we all need to continue focusing on as leaders. The first thing is you need (right) leadership. You need to ensure that the leaders in the organisation take the right decisions, support hybrid work, demonstrate empathy and intent with their employees. Point number two is around structure. As an organisation, you can’t think that one size can fit all. It doesn’t work that way. You need to design a customised model. You need to leave some flexibility at the management level to achieve the best balance between flexibility and regularity by investing in the necessary infrastructure, technical enhancements. And finally, the culture that you drive as a company or as a leader is extremely important as well. We are prioritising actions, creating opportunities for employees to learn, innovate and collaborate. We consistently adjust our training programmes as well.
— How do companies need to evolve to stay relevant and thrive?
If you look at how the market has evolved and how our customers have been coming to us (now), that’s all about how can we help them driving a hybrid productive workforce. At the start, we’ve seen companies doing it pretty fast, which was a defensive reaction initially, and then we’ve seen them investing for the future for driving that flexible hybrid work with their employees. In India, a majority of the growth is coming from mobile space, which is a testimony of hybrid work because with a mobile solution you can work from home, from a coffee shop, or from the office, depending on the programme you’re putting as a company. We are also seeing companies preparing for return to the office that will be more through flexible spaces. Finally, the intent from companies around training people in that hybrid work environment, giving choice to employees as long as it fits their role is there to stay and it needs constant adjustments. That’s how we continue to evolve basically, and how companies needs to continue to evolve.
— Security is paramount. Your thoughts?
Remote work has enabled a culture of convenience, productivity, and generally a more employee friendly structure but the flip side of that is, how do you address the security risk. One out of three employees in India said they were using personal productivity tools or equipment for work which definitely is a big security risk. Organisations have been working with us to prevent and detect and respond to the threats that may occur sometimes in various markets. We’ve always incorporated the highest standards of security across our products and as our customers continue to operate remotely, we have strengthened our focus towards creating products and solutions that keep safety and security at the forefront.
We recently announced a set of support services and security solutions that provide the industry-first automated custom update catalog management and deployment capabilities. We’re trying to mitigate increasingly sophisticated hacker attacks at the BIOS level. We are offering a product portfolio which is having the most intelligent, secure and sustainable PC. Our AI software called Optimiser helps you work more intelligently in the background and have a more personal experience. Our Express sign-in feature automatically locks your PC when you’re away from your device so no one can really access it. So, security is at the core of everything we do.