Employees need to be empowered to work anywhere in the COVID-19 era

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By now, like us, you’ve grown tired about hearing how remote working or working from home has become the new normal. With the COVID-19 pandemic still being fought and lockdown continuing, it has become essential for businesses to ensure their employees are able to work productively from home, but as VMware explains, it has now become imperative that employees are empowered to work anywhere.

This as the pandemic has forced many a company to fast track their digital transformation plans, with laggards in this department needing to get their digital transformation roadmaps up and running as quickly as possible.

“With the need for employees to work from anywhere, the business landscape has irrevocably changed,” explains Vmware following insight from its local partners and customers.

“There are 16 different companies in our group comprising the mining, oil and gas, and construction sectors. Because of the pandemic, many had to shut down completely whilst others could remain operational as essential services. Fortunately, we have been progressive with our cloud strategy and have embraced a work from anywhere mindset even prior to COVID-19,” highlights Kevin Wilson, GM Group IT manager at Stefanutti Stocks.

As Wilson continues, last year’s pandemic and lockdown have provided many a lesson, as it became fundamental to understand that it was not about where people had to work from, but rather that they were able to fulfil on their responsibilities to the business.

“Many learnt more about their technology in the first three months of COVID-19 than the three years prior to it. The acceleration towards a digital-centric mindset which we have been fighting for happened virtually overnight. Now, almost one year on and one of the key takeaways is that companies should not panic but rather embrace the work from anywhere mindset,” he adds.

Wilson also stresses the point that management must think differently about how to measure employee performance in this new environment, and we could not agree more.

This is a view shared by Andrew Cruise, MD of VMware parter, Routed, which handles cloud infrastructure for the company in South Africa.

“We have seen conversations accelerate towards the cloud and becoming more mature than in the pre-COVID-19 days. In those times there was a lot of cloud washing taking place. Today, enterprises have changed their thinking and are examining how best to embrace hyperscale providers, modernise apps, and leverage Web-native tools,” Cruise points out.

While the pandemic and lockdown have provided much of the drive for companies to move in this direction, according to Cruise the continued uncertainty around loadshedding is quickly becoming a motivating factor as well.

“This has seen more businesses embracing a cloud-based data centre where the service provider can take care of those issues. The executive mindset is now one of doing managed services on top of the cloud instead of purely relying on on-premise solutions,” he adds.

This acceleration, while necessitated by chaotic events on global scale, could lead to serious cloud maturity down the line, in Cruise’s view.

“There has definitely been an inflection point with the switch happening to a demand-based market. We are finally at the stage of cloud readiness which South Africa has been waiting for. Now it is a question of which cloud the organisation is adopting as opposed to deciding on whether to make the move in the first place,” the MD adds.

While there has been rapid adoption in some areas, Sunny Desai, executive for Solutions, Engineering, and Services at another VMware partner, Aptronics, says there has to will at the managerial level as well in order to bring a work anywhere environment to life.

“Transformation does not begin with technology but with leadership. In the past year, we have seen businesses who were undecided about the cloud to now see it as mandatory. The amount of technology available today means organisations and their customers are now embracing the cloud and overcoming any obstacles along the way. This is in contrast with the past where much of the attention was on discussing the cloud and less on actioning the move,” says Desai.

The Aptronics exec also points to infrastructure as a hurdle when it comes to realising the work anywhere environment.

“Infrastructure remains a challenge in outlying areas which limits how quickly a remote workforce can be fast tracked and efficiencies gained from employees. And beyond that, the app modernisation journey to transform business with newer technologies is a relative process depending on the level of organisational maturity. Companies are now at a point where they have to invest away from legacy environments into more modern ones,” he emphasises.

“Almost 90% of the conversations we are having with customers is how this transformative approach to the cloud and work from anywhere can help save them money. This includes how quickly the migration can be done, and the capabilities required to change effectively for this age,” concludes Desai.

Looking at what VMware and its customers/partners are seeing at a local level in terms of being able to work anywhere, it looks like that is next in becoming the new normal.

[Image – Photo by Michael Soledad on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.