This week I got an update from Lenovo (I’m on their advisory board), and the company appears to be making a significant pivot to its operations as it adjusts to the new normal. I can’t yet speak to those changes, but I can talk about the massive study they did that is driving them. They surveyed a thousand large companies on their plans for the future, and the results are fascinating.
A Permanent Shift to Working From Home = Higher Productivity, Office Changes
I’ve heard this anecdotally, but Lenovo’s survey indicated that 77% of the employees have reported that their employer is now far more supportive of remote work. This result dovetails with a recent Gartner survey of CFOs. They indicated at least 5% of their formerly office-bound workforce is now permanently working from home (and as this Pandemic continues, this number will only increase).
To address this increase in both working from home flexibility so that employees can split their time between the office and home, and more rapidly shift to a work from home standard, the firms are building mirror office settings. Extra monitors, collaboration devices, stand up desks, and other tools were highlighted as part of this reconfiguration. Still, the new normal will have a lot of people only coming in to work occasionally if at all.
Smart Offices, Productivity, And Technology Pivots
It is interesting to note that 57% indicated they would be working in smart offices within five years and that 92% of the respondents are already embarking on workplace transformation initiatives. Part of this change is the broad implementation of Proximity Trace to ensure that social distancing guidelines are met. Besides, many are implementing broad social-distancing changes. These include plexiglass partitions, regular temperature checks and AR/VR (which is currently experiencing supply shortages). In terms of enabling work from home, the U.S. is lagging with 13% of employees indicating they are getting no work-from-home help from their firms (this compares to 1% for China, 4% for Italy, 5% for Japan and 6% from Germany).
It is interesting to note that they were given updated productivity information as well, with more than half (61%) of the respondents indicating they were as or more productive at home than they were in the office. (I’m guessing the other 39% had children at home as well). By country, in terms of productivity, the U.S. and Germany tied for first at 21% while China lagged at 10%, and Japan lagged behind China at 7%. The Eastern countries don’t appear to work as well without direct oversight, given this result, as do the western countries, which tend to be less authoritarian.
Given that the future workforce will be distributed, plans are shifting to remote service offerings, and the concept of DaaS (device as a service) is gaining substantial interest.
The budgets for these changes are being shifted from travel budgets, and real estate budgets (69% plan to reduce their office footprint). Firms are looking at increased spending for new technologies to address related problems keeping remote employees engaged. These tools and technologies include AR/VR, IoT and 5G.
Security is also getting a boost, given the 300% increase in cybercrime during the pandemic.
Wrapping Up: Sample
The sample was made up of respondents from the U.S., China, Japan, Italy and Germany, with company sizes split amongst evenly between four segments. Those segments were (in terms of number of employees) 1,000-2,499 (26%), 2,500-4,999 (21%), 5,000-9,999 (24%), and 10,000+ (29%). Age of respondents were 18-34 (32%), 35-54 (59%), and 55+ (9%). Concerning their positions, 27% were out of IT, and 73% were line-of-business employees.
Based on these results, the new normal will have us either splitting our time between the office and home or mainly working from home with no need to ever go into the office. In response to this survey, there seems to be little doubt that Lenovo, and firms like it, will be shifting their efforts sharply to services, collaboration solutions, distributed security and support solutions and unique hardware and software solutions to operate in this new normal.
The pandemic already has changed the world significantly, but this survey would indicate the biggest changes are yet to come. Lenovo is making sure it is where the world is going by the time it gets there.
Rob Enderle is a principal at Enderle Group. He is a nationally recognized analyst and a longtime contributor to eWEEK and Pund-IT.