How Telco and IT Are Shaping the Future Workforce
Although sometimes it feels as if the earth is standing still, IT Organizations and Telecommunication companies are going to play a critical part in keeping us spinning on our axis while helping to support workforce transformation.
In a way, the recent massive shift to remote work reminds me of the 2008 remake of the sci-fi movie, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” which was originally filmed in 1951. The climax in the movie occurs when Klaatu, the alien visitor, “neutralizes electricity,” bringing the world to a complete stop. For us, we still have electricity and internet, but pretty much all non-essential transportation and in person meetings have been completely prohibited for over a month… and counting!
Today’s Impact on the Future of Remote Work
Perhaps today’s remote work setup will be a blessing in disguise for long term workforce transformation.
Historically, less than 4% of US employees worked from home most of the time – half or more of the work week . According to the same report from Workspace Analytics, that figure is expected to grow to somewhere between 25%-30% by 2021 . That may sound like a lot, but not if we really think about the fact that more than 50% of the jobs we do nowadays (56% according to the same source) can be done completely or partially remotely. And I am not just talking about IT jobs, but many office/administrative jobs doing in offices worldwide. If we look at other studies, more focused on the US market, and we focus on workers who work remotely “in and out”, like whenever they are traveling, or perhaps about one day a week, that number rises to over 43% . Telecommuting has been the exception to the rule of in-person work…but this may change significantly over the next few years. The real question is: How has the average company prepared for this digital transformation challenge? The answer can be summarized in the following board meeting.
But now, work-from-home culture is quickly being adopted across all industries, including sectors which used to be 100% in person like real estate and healthcare.
Business Agility in Action
One real estate company, Zillow, saw a whopping 191% increase in 3D house tours in the first weeks of March 2020 compared to February 2020, and in addition the houses which had the option of virtual tours saw homes sell on average 10% faster . This is a remarkable feat in a very difficult real estate market. Another example is tele-health, something I talked about in other articles when referring to use cases for 5G .
I have used Teladoc and BenefitPERx before, and for getting a prescription filled or a minor issue, they work fantastic: you can get everything done with your cellphone at about half the price of a doctor’s visit and in just 10 minutes, no commuting necessary. Can you imagine what we will be able to do when 5G is all around us and we can expand these services to Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)? This will be made possible by 5G’s near-zero latency, real-time monitoring and spatial computing. 
Remote Work is an Opportunity and a Challenge
This presents an opportunity for IT professionals to help these traditional companies close the technology gap and offer tailored and innovative solutions that will delight customers. If you are a manager at one of these companies, you may worry about keeping up employee engagement/satisfaction, and how you’ll retain talent. As working remotely becomes more and more common, employees will have new remote work requirements, and companies with inflexible work cultures may struggle as a result.
According to Gallup  as an example “in a 500-employee company where employees work remotely three days a week, if employees at a company with an average engagement rate improved productivity by 5% by working remotely, the company would save approximately $3,000 per employee. But the engaged — who create an average 15% productivity bump — would save the company up to $8,000 per employee. That’s an annual $4 million premium”. There are also significant savings in time from commuting less, plus environmental benefits from using less energy and decreasing CO2 emissions. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute is roughly 26 minutes.  “If you commute to a full-time, 5-day-a-week job, roundtrip that adds up to 4.35 hours a week and over 200 hours (nearly nine days) per year.”
We saw a significant increase in telecommuting in previous crises: for example, back in 2001, after the terrorist attacks in NYC many New Yorkers chose to telework out of understandable fear. We saw major increases in 2008 as well, when oil prices rose to $140 per barrel and the cost of transportation became prohibitive for many workers. There are two things which make the situation now significantly different from previous crises:
- The changes in the way people are working that we make now may stay with us for a long time.
- We have much better technology, including a wider array of options to enable telecommuting.
I will cover these technology solutions in the next articles. Within the Dell Technologies umbrella of companies we have a plethora of products and services that can empower remote workforces such as Workforce Persona Services, and top tier security like Virtual Desktops (VDI) and SD-WAN to enable reliable remote connections cheaper and more efficiently than MPLS connections (Velocloud), team collaboration tools (Microsoft Office 365, Teams, Slack), etc.
You don’t need to tackle this alone, comment below if you have any questions or would like to discuss more.
- [The day the earth stood still poster] The Day the Earth Stood Still (U)”. British Board of Film Classification and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_the_Earth_Stood_Still
- [Global Workplace Analytics] https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/telecommuting-statistics
- [Kate Lister, president of Global Workspace Analytics] https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/work-at-home-after-covid-19-our-forecast
- [Gallup – State of the American Workplace] https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238085/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx
- [The Undiscovered country: A trekkie’s view of the future of networking] https://infocus.delltechnologies.com/javier_guillermo/the-undiscovered-country-a-trekkies-view-of-the-future-of-networking/
- [marketoonist Tom Fish Burne] https://www.marketoonist.com
- [CNBC Virtual, robot and solo home touring soar as social distancing hits the housing market amid coronavirus fear] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/30/coronavirus-fallout-virtual-and-solo-home-touring-soars.html
- [US Census Bureau] https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/travel-time.html
- [telladoc.com] http://www.benefitperx.com/telemedicine