Who moved my office

While coronavirus has brought health, economic and complicated business problems to the world, the timing of the pandemic was nearly perfect for many to make the adjustments to WFH, delegates heard at the latest webinar ‘Who moved my office, hosted by Nutanix on the 20th May 2020.

Prof Herman Singh, CEO of Future Advisory spoke to Mervyn Savary, an Executive Head of Nedbank and Phillip De Waal an engineer at Nutanix about the overnight expansion of working from home (WFH) and the complexities that companies need to look out for.

The webinar described how the timing of the pandemic was nearly perfect for many to make the adjustments to WFH. “The minute the pandemic hit, it was almost like the perfect storm because everything we needed was there,” said Singh. “We have been talking about the end of the office for some time.”  But it did not happen until recently, aided by the exponential growth in connectivity, smart devices, and apps, he said. “Adoption of mobile technologies for example is now twice as fast than the adoption of the internet in the 90s and 10 times faster than PC adoption in the 80s.”

Can we go back?

The webinar explored whether we can go back to the office when this is all over. It explained how this would be possible. However, would employees want to, and what industries could opt to continue the virtual office?

De Waal noted how a recent survey done by Gartner asking 370 CFO’s what they thought about the WFH situation, 74% said they were planning to move 5% of their workforce off site permanently. “IBM in, USA, did a similar survey,” De Waal added, “they had a chat with 25000 individuals and 54% said they would like to work from home.” He also noted that the German labour minister was considering writing it into law that people would have a right to work from home should their job function allow it.

De Waal explained that, data security would become key, to enabling companies to adapt to the WFH trend. VPN would be the fastest and easiest safe form to use to access data from the company, he said.

Lessons learned

Savary was asked about the challenges Nedbank faced when enabling employees to work from home. He discussed how organisational changes gained momentum toward the end of 2019, when they landed enabling technologies. “Your 360, your data in the cloud, your e-mail in the cloud, Onedrive,” allowed them to practice before Covid-19 hit.

Savray explained that managers also had concerns about how their staff were working because they could not monitor them. “By using Workplace Analytics we were able to show the business what their staff were really doing,” he said.

To conclude the webinar, De Waal and Savray were asked to discuss one lesson learnt in the last 6 weeks. Savray said the staff at his company exceeded their productivity expectations in the WFH scenario. “People intuitively, innately, are good citizens. They are good corporate citizens in this case and just get on with their work.” De Waal learned that “it’s not quite as difficult as you think it is. Technology and the tools available make life a lot simpler.” 

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