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Rohit_Dixit

Reimagining how we work: The rise of the hybrid workplace

The modern work environment is defined by its ability to engage, empower and embolden individuals enabled by ubiquitous connectivity and near-limitless compute powers. The remote work surge is just the start.

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 The way we work has changed so quickly over the past year or so that it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture of the evolution the workplace – where we’ve come from, and what we’re moving towards.

It’s true, of course, that COVID-19 has accelerated many changes. Remote work environments have now become the norm for many organizations, and their ability to support employee productivity is no longer in doubt. Security has become a much larger issue. Virtual collaboration has expanded and now routinely crosses organizational boundaries.

But even before COVID-19 hit, businesses were no longer looking at the workplace as a static, physical place that enclosed work activities. For at least the past decade, they have increasingly visualized it as a boundary-less environment that leverages modern compute and connectivity to engage, empower and embolden individuals to do more than they could achieve by themselves. In short, companies are moving towards a hybrid workplace – one that’s defined not so much by location as by flexibility across a range of tasks, needs and preferences, wherever an employee happens to be.

Reimagining the physical workplace

While the spotlight last year was very much on remote capabilities, the role of the physical workplace is rapidly evolving, too, and will require all the flexibility that a hybrid approach delivers. The pendulum may soon start to swing back from the direction of remote work.

In the longer term, we see a middle ground where, depending upon employee preferences and job requirements, work environments will vary from employee to employee. Work and how it is conducted is an important part of how people feel about themselves. In a work environment that’s completely virtual, not all employees may feel that they’re connecting effectively with others or getting the type of human support they need to be successful.

In the shorter term, businesses will continue to look for ways to enable at least a portion of their employees to safely return to their regular place of work in company facilities. To help these organizations, we have introduced five new return-to-work solutions with Citrix and other partners. We have customers that have already begun implementing these solutions, ranging from large international airports, to global food processing and packaging plants, to retail stores and corporate offices:

Social distance tracing and tracking. This solution helps employers monitor and implement social distance guidelines. Use cases include alerting employees through Bluetooth-enabled devices if they are too close to one another for an extended period of time, and leveraging video analytics to determine face mask usage in required areas.

Touchless entry. This is a hygienic approach for employees to securely and smoothly enter a location without touching door handles and other points of entry. The solution uses facial recognition for contactless access, as well as multi-factor access control and identity verification.

Fever detection. This solution identifies individuals with elevated body temperatures using thermal cameras, machine learning and video analytics to proactively alert employees and staff to keep workers safe and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Augmented reality and visual remote guidance. On-site employees can collaborate effectively with remote employees to take on complex maintenance operations remotely. By offering digitized 3D visuals of a system or machine, a remote employee can identify a problem – such as a broken gas or water valve on a factory floor – to request repairs.

Workplace alerts and information sharing. These solutions enable employers share workplace information and push location-specific alerts to employees, using apps and dashboards. Employees receive real-time alerts, specific to their exact location in a building, on any changes or updates occurring onsite.

How HPE Advisory and Professional Services expertise drives 4 key outcomes

The new return-to-work solutions are offered through our Digital Workplace Services organization, which has recently been recognized by industry analysts as a leader in all three areas of Intelligent Edge. This organization has some of the most experienced people in the industry on its staff, who build and run some of the largest and most complex digital workplace environments around the globe. We help our customers build dynamic hybrid workplaces leveraging HPE’s compute, storage and networking products as well as products from Microsoft, Citrix, VMware and many other partners.

Our workplace strategy focuses on achieving four outcomes for our customers. We help you to:

  • Keep employees safe by leveraging the return-to work-solutions I described above.
  • Attract the best employees by leveraging cutting-edge technologies from multiple partners to create a work environment that employees want to come work in.
  • Empower employees to be more productive by providing tools that they can use to conduct their work anywhere they are.
  • Manage costs, through a combination of remote work capabilities and our Internet of Things solutions. The link between remote work and reduced real estate costs is obvious. In addition, our IoT solutions leverage sensors deployed throughout a workspace – together with intelligence about how spaces are being used for collaboration – to reduce costs through actions such as turning air conditioning off when no meetings are scheduled for the rest of the day in a conference room.

Tapping the power of partnership

I mentioned our collaboration with Citrix to create our portfolio of return-to-work services. This represents the latest achievement of a long-standing partnership, and one that we’re very proud of. For an excellent overview of how HPE and Citrix solutions can help your business create a smart, seamless workplace, see the video below, featuring Tim Minahan, EVP of Business Strategy and CMO at Citrix, and myself. Recorded for the Citrix Workspace Summit, the video delivers a wealth of insights that will be useful for any organization considering a hybrid workplace initiative, including:

  • How the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted companies’ hybrid cloud and workplace strategies, moving them towards a new equilibrium of on-premises and off-prem infrastructure.
  • How Citrix Workspace solutions together with HPE microapps are enabling companies to design a safe return-to-work for employees, with a full “day-in-the-life” approach – ensuring that they can remain secure and productive throughout their entire day. I offer some examples, including ways to ensure that meetings rooms are booked only when they’re clean and sanitized, and the use of real-time maps of building occupancy to maintain social distancing and direct traffic.
  • How Internet of Things technologies and artificial intelligence are shaping the new hybrid workplace.
  • What the future of the workplace holds – why there’s no going back to the pre-pandemic status quo, and how HPE and Citrix can help companies overcome ‘last-mile’ challenges and move forward to a seamless, flexible hybrid workplace that will meet their needs well into the future.

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HPE Pointnext Services can help you build a modern hybrid workplace that will boost employee productivity, attract and retain talent, and reduce workplace costs. We can help you keep employees safe and healthy as you address the immediate challenges posed by COVID-19. And we can do it all in a manner that will stand the test of time.

Learn more about the hybrid workplace and how HPE can help you reinvent your work environments.

Virtual desktop infrastructure can be a powerful platform to build out remote work capabilities. Watch this on-demand webinar, in which HPE and Citrix experts share proven strategies and best practices for designing a VDI service – one that increases employee productivity and is easy to manage, deploy, and scale: VDI Strategies for a Distributed Workforce.

And here’s a great example of how HPE helps customers leverage VDI: Learn how Isala, one of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands, built a flexible, futureproof platform for its virtual desktop infrastructure

 Rohit Dixit
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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About the Author

Rohit_Dixit

Senior Vice President & General Manager of Advisory & Professional Services for HPE Pointnext Services