Building a Future that Works for all
Originally published on LinkedIn, August 3, 2021 by Jenn Saavedra | Chief Human Resources Officer at Dell Technologies
It’s hard to believe the last day I spent in a Dell Technologies office was March 13, 2020. I’m not sure exactly where I spent my day – I’ve never had an assigned desk – but I know I spent a lot of it on conference calls. It wasn’t until nearly all of us started working from home full-time that I reflected and realized I really didn’t need to be in the office each day to do my job.
I saw many advantages with my new work set-up. I had more time with my husband and daughter (and our dog, who joined me on walking meetings). Zoom gave me a chance to get to know my colleagues around the world better (and their kids / roommates / pets), and my global team felt closer than ever. We were all on a level playing field in meetings and everyone had the same opportunity to easily contribute to the conversation.
But after a while, I felt like I was missing something.
During the height of the pandemic, we were on lock-down. I spent my workday with my laptop on my bedroom floor. I didn’t leave the house because I couldn’t go to the gym, the grocery store, to see friends or out for entertainment.
Then, I came across an article titled “The Future of Remote Work is the Opposite of Lonely.” And I realized what I was most missing in the last year was human connection. The author made me re-think my situation and reminded me my current work from home scenario is not the future of work.
Since then, I’ve set up a dedicated workspace at home. When restrictions lifted in the U.S., I was able to go out for coffee, meet people on the running trail and enjoy lunch with a colleague.
And I’ve been reflecting on what the future of work means for our 158,000 team members. I think it will look different for everyone – and that’s the great thing about our approach.
I've seen companies issue directives about where and how work gets done…and the confusion it’s causing for employees. But I don’t think the right answer is one size fits all. People’s needs and preferences differ. The work they do for our company has distinct business requirements.
That’s why we won’t make wide-ranging directives around when, where and how all team members must work. Instead, we’ll look at the business requirements and ask our people about their personal experiences, their preferences, what motivates them and what their ideal work situation looks like. We’ll listen to our teams’ perspectives and use them to continue shaping a culture where all can thrive. At the end of these discussions, we believe that nearly 90% of our roles will have some degree of flexibility in where and how they work.
This isn’t new for us. Dell Technologies has always been a company that puts our people at the center of our decisions. So, rather than issuing a mandate for all team members about where and how work gets done, we’ll have a philosophy that guides us.
Personally, my job responsibilities don’t require me to be onsite, but I do plan to come into the office from time to time for working sessions, to have lunch with a colleague or just enjoy a change of scenery while listening to my co-workers’ laughter in the hallways. I’ll also work from home some days and connect with team members around the world using "Zoom Airlines.”
But going forward, things will be different. It may be more challenging for teams to acclimate to a new hybrid reality than it was going fully remote over a weekend nearly 18 months ago. We recognize this and will help our teams orient to this new world of work, just as we do when getting to know a new team. Leaders and teams will spend time reflecting, renewing and re-thinking team norms and ways of operating, including the basics like 1x1s, operations reviews and staff meetings.
As I write this, we have some sites open in areas where COVID-19 cases are low, and some that will remain closed until further notice. Based on forces outside of our control – like the Delta variant and vaccine availability – there is uncertainty. We’ve seen the situation change in locations around the world, and we’ll continue to make decisions, informed by data and science, that put the safety and wellbeing of our team first.
None of us can know for sure what the future brings, but I am incredibly optimistic. I’m inspired by our leaders, the talent and grit of our teams and the strength of our culture.
It won’t be perfect, we don’t have all the answers, and there will be bumps in the road as we continue to learn. But I’m confident that together we will learn, evolve and achieve a great outcome – one that is defined by a connected and inclusive culture that maximizes the benefits of an engaged and productive hybrid workforce.
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