COVID-19: technology tips for working remotely
Over the last 15 years, t...
David Rabin, Vice President, Global Commercial Marketing at Lenovo, lists his top three technology tips for working remotely.
Over the last 15 years, the way we communicate and interact with our colleagues has evolved thanks to advances in technology and connectivity. In fact, since 2005 the number of employees globally working remotely has grown by 159% according to data from the American Community Survey. While we expected businesses to increasingly adopt flexible working policies in the years ahead, it is clear the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this shift significantly. This rapid, forced change has resulted in a challenging transition for those new to remote working, who have had to create makeshift home offices in their lounge, kitchen, or bedroom, and is likely to have a longstanding impact, even as lockdowns begin to ease across the world.
As workers settle into their new workspaces, there is a growing opinion that this collective experience will change our relationship with the office, with workers trading in their commute for extra hours in bed and a more flexible work-life balance. In fact, we found this view resonated strongly across our respondents in a recent survey Lenovo conducted that looked at how workers are coping with the changes several weeks into lockdown. The respondents – based in Italy, Germany, the US, China, and Japan – all believed that office-based businesses may not return to a full workforce operating out of a single location.
A reassuring stat from our survey was that 71% believed they had access to the technology they needed to work from home, and the majority (87%) felt that they were somewhat prepared to work from home. However, as we look at this becoming an increasingly long-term new normal, below are some tips on how you can continue to optimise your work from home strategy.
Leverage productivity and collaboration tools
As we find new ways of managing teams and colleagues you may want to consider investing in productivity enhancers, such as a monitor, higher-quality webcam, and collaboration software such as Microsoft Teams.
A New York Times report has shown workers that have a second monitor can have between 20-50% productivity boosts compared to those who do not. Those who are used to having two monitors in their office space should consider duplicating this set-up at home, especially if they work with spreadsheets and graphic design items.
Video capability remains a key element of the remote working environment. Employees who do not use video technology whilst working from home are likely to feel disconnected and isolated from their colleagues. It is also worth noting that the latest laptops, desktops and workstations all have enhanced video and audio features that enable the PC to act more like a smartphone with an optimised user experience whilst ensuring an always on and always connected state.
Utilising collaboration tools is also essential for maintaining effective teamwork during this time of uncertainty. Platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Skype and Zoom are helping to bring teams together and improve workflow through offering a suite of useful collaboration tools.
Set up your home workspace to mimic your office workspace
When we take a look at how we work in the office, some of us may wander around the office, shifting from a desk to a sofa to a huddle room, while others may prefer to be set up with a standing desk, monitor and a mouse. If you are most productive moving around throughout your workday, then you may want to do the same at home and completely forego a home office, instead using your laptop as your main productivity device. However, if you fall in the latter category, perhaps you set up a home office with a monitor or a standing desk. Many employers are realizing that it’s possible to be as productive from home as you would be in an office, so it’s important to set yourself up for success with the right tools and devices that fit your personal work style.
Communicate often - as this might be the new normal!
Given the uncertainty that many of us are experiencing, it is vital to encourage clear and open lines of communication across all aspects of the business, especially as we transition back to our physical workplaces. Workers will value managers who are showing their personable side, so we recommend using the video function during Zoom calls, or possibly having a short non-work related chat with a colleague each day, as this will go a long way to helping them feel settled during this time. These interactions are an important part of working in a communal office environment, and therefore essential to translate into our virtual workspaces.
As countries emerge from lockdown, individual companies will likely consider evolving their working from home policies to adapt to the new business environment. In fact, our research suggested as many as 77% of employees feel companies will be more open, and might even encourage, remote working moving forward. Therefore, it is essential to develop the fundamental skills of remote communication now to maximise your WFH efficiency going forward.
For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”