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Remote working: Rethinking the 9-to-5

Preben Fjeld, General Manager of Lenovo UK and Ireland, looks at how the benefits of flexible working can be felt throughout the whole company.

There is a major shift happening in the traditional workplace, driven by both technology and humans. We’re working more creatively, from new places, and collaborating with people across the world. Remote
working sits at the heart of this revolution, giving workers the freedom to work wherever they are.

Lenovo recently undertook a report with the Centre of Economics and Business Research on this topic, which showed that time spent commuting is worth £20bn in wasted productivity and economic value. While we’re not suggesting extending the working day to realise this, it does demonstrate a level of waste, which leads us to re-evaluating the working day.

Changing generations

Work is no longer where we go, it’s what we do. One of the biggest drivers behind this is simply the passing of years, which is leading to a workforce with a different demographic make-up. By 2025, millennials and Generation Z will comprise 75% of the world’s workforce. This new group has wide ranging expectations of their roles and how they should be supported, but many of these will be coming into companies that will still often be led by older generations. The differences are already there for us to see with the report showing people under 35 work better with a later start, and the over 35s prefer an earlier start.

In the workplace, it is all about the employee experience and culture – and how these things work together. In order to attract and retain the best talent as well as drive innovative and profitable organisations, employers must recognise and accommodate the changes in how millennials and post-millennials work and what they expect in the workplace.

These new generations have grown up with modern technology, using and consuming it every day, wherever they are. But this isn’t an ‘us vs. them’ scenario, with 41% of all respondents stating that tech will help them advance their careers.

Meeting the needs of the workforce

The rising popularity of remote working adds pressure to existing collaboration tools and devices. Implementing workplace transformation initiatives means that organisations can be more dynamic as they are no longer bound by geography and can tap into diverse talent pools. Teams are becoming fluid and more energetic, which fuels creativity. They are also less hierarchical, instead organised around specific projects.

To meet this and take advantage of this agility, forward-thinking organisations must be able to deploy pre-configured, or cloud-ready devices to their workforce. Smart vending allows employees to procure various IT products for themselves, from lightweight, fully configured laptops all the way down to a mouse, keyboard or headset. The smart part of these vending solutions takes the tedious paperwork out of the procurement process and empowers employees to focus on productivity, at the same time as having their own say in how they manage their workflow.

Best of all, this doesn’t need to mean massive costs to businesses. Everyone is focused on the bottom line, whether it’s a start-up obsessing on breaking even on an investment or a multi-national worried about delivering a dividend to shareholders. That commercial focus means investment in tech is often seen as an afterthought. Smart devices of all types can now be procured thorough flexible “as-a-service” models. With the right hardware, communication tech, and security and support services, this will result in less time waiting for IT support to fix things and lead to a happier and more engaged workforce.

Freedom en masse

In the very near future, thanks to 5G, we will experience the dawn of limitless connectivity. AI and IoT will fuel automation and immersion in AR will edge closer than ever before. Technology will expand horizons and shape the way in which humans work. We believe the companies that can balance inclusive cultural policies and personal touches, which connect employees to new ways of working, will be the winners of intelligent transformation.

These advances will contribute to a greater sense of good, but crucially, will improve the quality of life of workers globally. Change is being driven by younger generations who are more technically advanced, but if deployed properly, the benefits of flexible working can be felt by everybody.

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