Remote work was on the rise before COVID-19 hit, but the pandemic has rapidly accelerated its march across the business landscape. So essential has remote work become for businesses over the past two years that it has given rise to a new normal for organisations and workers alike.
This is not just a flash in the pan. As early as 2020, it was clear that things had likely changed for good. A poll taken by analyst firm Gartner that year showed that 48 per cent of employees would likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19, versus 30 per cent before the pandemic.
For knowledge workers specifically, the rate is higher. It was anticipated by Gartner that the majority – 51 per cent – of such workers globally would be working remotely by the end of 2021. This was up from just 27 per cent in 2019.
As noted by Gartner, the lasting impact of remote work has resulted in a reassessment of the IT infrastructure that is shifting buyer requirements to demand ‘work-anywhere’ capabilities. Such technology has been the enabler of the wholesale shift to remote seen by industry at large since the onset of the pandemic.
Now, the technology profile of many organisations is shifting further to support a long-term and sustainable normalising of remote and hybrid work, accompanied by accelerated digital transformation and even greater uptake of cloud-based infrastructure and solutions – a trend that was already in full swing prior to the pandemic.
The rise of the hybrid workforce has also seen an increase in the demand for PCs and tablets for use at home, serving the need for continued workplace collaboration from home.
But there are some areas of an organisation's hardware mix that have not made as smooth a transition to remote work as the portable devices or cloud-based solutions that have thus far supported the hybrid shift.
For example, bringing high-performance PCs home has presented a unique challenge for those workers in areas requiring additional computing power, such as high-volume data analytics, software programming and a variety of creative fields like graphic design and video production.
Historically, such areas have been served by desktop PCs designed for power, not for portability. This has presented enterprises with a conundrum: how can professionals whose work relies on high-power computing hardware be afforded the safety and flexibility of hybrid work while also being able to adequately do their jobs?
More importantly, how can partners provide answers for organisations looking for a way to introduce a truly hybrid environment for all of their workers, including those with high-power computing needs.
A changing landscape
Fortunately for the creators, data analysts, software programmers and, indeed, any worker needing powerful processing to do their jobs, the selection of hardware available in the marketplace is evolving in line with changing enterprise needs.
Indeed, high-power PCs are increasingly being made available in more portable packages, opening the door to greater opportunities for specialised employees to work and collaborate from anywhere – the core capability necessary for true hybrid work.
Take Dell Technologies’ Precision mobile workstation series for example. This range of portable PCs is designed specifically with professionals who require intensive computing power and reliability in mind.
Not only does the Precision series of mobile workstations come loaded with components that can easily handle CPU- and GPU-intensive applications, but it also claims advanced thermal designs to keep systems cool, quiet and operating at peak performance, even if they are running power-hungry processing loads.
Moreover, the Precision series is made for mission-critical reliability in a portable package thanks, in part, to its Reliable Memory Technology (RMT) Pro technology, which works in conjunction with Error Correction Code (ECC) memory to reduce memory-related errors and the dreaded blue screens.
At the same time, the Precision series PCs are well prepared for the dynamic threat landscape of the modern hybrid workplace. They are loaded with a variety of security solutions, including Dell SafeGuard and Response, Dell SafeData, Dell SafeID, Dell SafeBIOS and Dell SafeScreen.
Precision series users can easily secure their hard drives with remote intrusion detection software that provides alerts the system has been compromised.
Along with vast tracts of screen real estate, the Precision series claims a unique offering in the form of Dell Optimizer, the only built-in, artificial intelligence (AI)-based optimisation software that learns and responds to the way users work.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the devices in the Precision series are equipped to deal with emerging technologies and can be used to create and consume virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) software with 90 frames-per-second. They can also drive AI or machine learning (ML) applications with scalable memory and professional graphics and CPUs.
For partners working to meet customers’ hybrid needs at the top end of the computing spectrum, the kind of hardware options presented by the Precision series provides an avenue to leading-edge solutions and opens the door to new conversations and opportunities now and into the future.
Lasting change, powered by technology
Helping enterprises to get their specialist workers collaborating from home and beyond is only the first part of the journey with solutions such as those provided by the Precision mobile workstation range.
With the hybrid work trend all but cemented as the new way of doing business, solutions of all kinds – hardware, software and services – aimed squarely at helping organisations keep their workers connected, engaged and collaborating are increasingly taking hold.
As such, enterprises are exploring new and innovative ways to emulate the office experience for workers at home. Eventually, this must include the hardware component which, until now, has by and large been a more difficult hurdle to overcome than the software component.
Researchers, engineers, analysts, architects, designers and artists, programmers and composers, data scientists, computer game and VR developers, among many others, still need to work, even if the way business is done, and where, has changed forever.
For many enterprises, a big part of the puzzle that needs to be solved is how to stay ahead of competitors in terms of workplace satisfaction in order to hold onto their most valued employees in a climate rife with churn. This, as numerous studies have now shown, is heavily dependent on the availability of hybrid work opportunities within the organisation.
Research by Gartner has shown that 75 per cent of hybrid or remote knowledge workers say their expectations for working flexibly have increased, and four out of 10 employees are at risk of leaving their jobs if their employer insists that they return to an in-person office environment.
With the stakes so high, organisations are turning to their technology partners to find new ways to create and deliver a truly hybrid work environment, not only to get work done and keep teams collaborating but also to retain talent.
For partners, drawing upon the Dell Precision series to provide their customers with hardware that is sufficient for meeting the needs of all workers, including those that have historically been tethered to the office environment, is a valuable starting point from which to open deeper, ongoing and far-reaching conversations about how an organisation can continue to thrive in the ‘new normal’.