Dell and Intel Study Uncovers Truth Behind Technology and the Workforce

By Peter Bernstein December 03, 2014

Back in 2011, Dell wanted to know about how technology was impacting the evolving workplace and vice versa. Fast forward, Dell and partner Intel decided that it was time for another look. First to see how far we may or may not have come and second to see what the road ahead might look like. The results have been published and confirm many observations regarding how much and how fast perceptions as well as realities are changing as well as revealed a few surprises.

Dell and Intel commissioned research firm TNS to conduct this version of the Global Evolving Workforce Study. It  included survey responses from 4,764 full-time employees of small, medium and large-sized organizations distributed across 12 countries, and six private industries (financial services, manufacturing, retail, media & entertainment, healthcare, and education) and three public industries (government, healthcare and education).  As part of the exercise industry experts and analysts in human resources, technology, and organization psychologists were also interviewed for their insight on the findings.

The context for the survey was explained by Steve Lalla, vice president and general manager of Cloud Client Computing, Dell who noted:  "As the key provider of mobile technology, its critical to keep a pulse on the changing landscape so we can continue to provide the right solutions and services for the evolving workforce…And as the research shows, now more than ever, the "office" isn’t defined by a desk within an employer’s walls. With constant connectivity blurring the lines between professional and personal lives and devices, it’s essential employees have seamless access to data when at the office, at home and on the road so they can stay productive, and IT secures and manages the data and user wherever it goes."

Lalla added in discussing the results with me that the old observation that “wherever I am is where you will find me” has never been more true or more important, particularly to important subjects like the blurring of personal and professional and views on the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely.  In fact, he noted that, “The goal needs to be to provide us all the tools we need in our professional and personal lives, everywhere, every time, all the time and the way in which we prefer to view and use them.”

Dell Global Evolving Workforce Study Trend Highlights

As readers will see by clicking on the link above, there are actually two perspectives that are available for review.  The first focuses on user perceptions while the second is the views of the subject matter experts. They both contain extensive information and insights, including breakdowns by country and sectors which illustrate some fascinating differences in attitudes and the impact of technology in the workplace, and are equally worth reading.

As a tickler to encourage you to download the research the below graphic is an example of an insight you probably were not aware of but is certainly food for thought. It is in regards to what users are looking for in selecting a device for work. 

Source:  Dell/Intel 2014 Global Evolving Workforce Study.

The “desktop” versus “all others” in the above refers to workers whose primary work networked computing platform remains a traditional desktop versus those who do not use it as their primary workstation. Interestingly, the study found that IT managed and controlled desktops remain the place where the majority of workers perform their work despite inroads of laptops, tablets and smartphones. However, as the look into the future indicates, whether it be using voice recognition more, touch and gestures, users and experts agree the times are changing. The caveat is not as quickly as one might assume given all of the hype.

Below are the researchers’ summary of the key trends that emerged from the surveys and interviews which centered on where and how employees work, the impact technology has on personal and work lives, and predictions around the automation of technology in the future.

  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Wherever and whenever they are working, employees are using multiple devices, rather than just one to get their jobs done. Of those who use desktops, more than half also use another device, and those who use either a tablet or 2-in-1 laptop for work only use these in conjunction with other devices. However, tablet and 2-in-1 adoption is growing, with the highest use among executives and in emerging markets. Performance is the top priority for what employees want in their work device with 81 percent stating it as either the first or second most important attribute.


Location of work also has an impact on the devices used. Sixty-two percent of employees consider the desktop PC as their primary business device while at work, with the highest use in financial services, public healthcare and government, but when doing work at home, laptops are used as frequently as desktops. For personal purposes, employees are switching to more mobile forms of technology where laptop, tablet and 2-in-1 usage is higher than when working in the office.

  • The Office Is King, but it’s a Jungle Too: As employees conduct work in different locations, the office still is the primary place of work. Ninety-seven percent of employees spend at least some time in their employer’s office. On average, employees in developed markets are spending 32 hours per week in the office, compared to 26 hours for employees in emerging markets. Thirty-five percent of employees globally indicate they work in public places on average two hours per week. Employees average four hours per week working at an external location, such as a client’s office, and another five hours per week working from home, compared with 29 hours per week working in the office.
    Distractions in the office, however, are a concern. Office-based employees feel they work best in an office at their desk (76 percent), yet 48 percent indicate they are frequently interrupted. Almost one in five employees wear headphones or earbuds in the office, and that usage doubles for those who feel they are frequently interrupted. 
     
    The office doesn’t seem to aid in increasing interpersonal communications either, as 51 percent of employees still frequently IM or email colleagues who are located physically near them, rather than talking with them directly.
  • The Productivity Debate: Office Workers vs. Remote Workers: Perceptions of at-home workers are shifting as 52 percent of employees surveyed believe that those working from home are just as is not more productive than those in the office. However, this perception has not shifted everywhere as four out of 10 employees in China, India, Turkey and UAE believe those working from home are less productive, and 29 percent of those in developed countries aren’t sure what to think.

Of those who spend any time working from home, half believe they are more productive there than in the office. Of the remaining 50 percent, 36 percent believe they are equally as productive at home as in the office, and only 14 percent say less productive. There are clear benefits of working from home; 30 percent sleep more, 40 percent drive less and 46 percent of employees feel less stress, but not everything about working from home is good. There are distractions from spouses, children, parents and pets in the home and 20 percent of employees indicate exercising less when working from home, with 38 percent indicate snacking more.

  • Work Life Plus Personal Life = Life: As innovations in technology continue to advance, people have increasing flexibility to choose when and where they meet their professional obligations. Sixty-four percent of employees globally conduct at least some business at home after business hours. Employees in emerging countries are increasingly expected to be accessible at home, with 83 percent indicating they check work email after hours, compared to 42 percent in developed markets.

Executives blur the lines between "work" and "personal" more than other employees. They indicate they use personal technology for work more frequently than other employees (64 percent vs. 37 percent), take work technology home for personal purposes (45 percent vs. 20 percent) and access personal websites/apps/software at work (67 percent vs. 49 percent).

More than half of employees globally currently use personal devices for work purposes or expect to do so in the future, while 43 percent of employees globally are secretly using personal devices for work without the company knowing, with smartphones and laptops being those most frequently used.

"The challenge many IT departments face is how to manage and secure the increasing number of devices coming in and out of an organization. Smartphones, in particular, have been the primary device behind the BYOD model," said Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst TECHnalysis Research. "That's forcing many organizations to rethink the way they manage devices, especially ones not purchased or completely accessible by IT."

  • The Secret to Happy Employees? Technology: One out of four employees globally report they are influenced by the technology provided to them at work and would consider taking a new position if provided better technology that helps them be more productive. Employees in the media and entertainment sector are most likely to quit over poor technology. Those in management roles and employees in emerging markets, in particular, expect the best technology in order to stay with their current employer or consider a new one.
    Seventy-six percent of employees said technology has had an influence on the way they worked in the past year. Forty-six percent said technology has increased their productivity and enabled them to communicate faster. But some feel the technology they have available holds them back from being productive and has hindered their career growth, with that feeling most pronounced in India.

    Fewer than half of employees globally report that the IT department takes employees opinions into consideration when selecting technology but those in emerging markets feel they have more influence over the choices that IT makes.
  • The Future of Tech in the Workplace is Bright, But Not Fully Automated: Employees are generally optimistic with the future of technology, believing it will keep evolving and will provide different benefits and capabilities to the workforce, but will not fundamentally change the way in which people work. They believe that in the future, voice recognition will be used instead of the keyboard (92 percent), tablets will completely replace laptops (87 percent), all computers will use hand gestures (87 percent), and keyboards and mice will be obsolete (88 percent).
    But those advancements in technology won’t replace the need for humans in the workplace as only 34 percent of respondents think their job will be fully automated in their lifetime. Those in emerging countries, specifically UAE, India, and Turkey are more willing to rely on technology, while those in U.K., U.S. and Japan are looking for a more human touch in their work lives.

The study is not just about numbers and perceptions, there is also some advice contained for business leaders, IT managers and human resource professionals to focus on to better understand their employees’ diverse needs and provide the right environments and technology to enable them to do their best work.

  • Activity-based work - Provide the right technology for the job, which may mean multiple devices.
  • Seamless Access – Provide employees with seamless access to their data and applications from any device, anywhere, at any time.
  • Security - Ensure not only all BYOD devices are known and secured but the user and access to information is managed and secured.
  • Diverse Environments – As innovations in technology continue to advance, people have increasing flexibility to choose when and where they meet their professional obligations so employers need to provide the tools to enable them to be effective in their preferred environment. For those who don’t have the flexibility, provide a variety of workspaces to meet the task at hand.

As Lalla explained, the big take away from this is that: “At the end of the day the industry needs to look at the difference between delivering desktops versus delivering apps and services that can be consumed by everything in a compelling manner based on the device of preference. One size fits all does not work, and your apps and data need to be device agnostic so you always have precisely what you need when you need it, securely and in an easy-to-use manner.”

He also pointed to the continued applicability of the desktop as a tool for getting work done, and agreed that like most revolutions this one is happening in an evolutionary manner, as can be seen in the gradual shifts in perceptions for instance about whether working remotely much of the time is a plus or minus. 

The really big surprise in reading the materials and speaking with Lalla was the belief by users and experts that while technology is going to continue to try and put the right people in the right place at the right time with the right tools, taking a longer view the actual impact on the nature of work everyone seems to agree the changes will be incremental over the next decade. We seem to understand we are inexorably moving to an always on/all ways connected, increasing distributed workplace. However, we also know from how that almost always/all ways world currently works, that the barriers as to work and personal are already broken, those of us who are knowledge workers are used to collaboration on virtual teams with globally dispersed participants, and are constantly fine-tuning the apps we use to improve our productivity at work and enjoyability when not working. 

One final thought is that while in 2011 technology was viewed as important for attracting and keeping workers, today the expectation of the digitally adept is that their employers will stay current on the technology front since to not do so carries consequences. Let’s hope Dell and Intel make this an annual affair. After all, the speed at which technology is disrupting markets is accelerating and those numbers could change markedly in just a few months. 

 
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Pai Makes His Case for Title II Repeal

By: Paula Bernier    11/21/2017

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today made clear his plans to repeal Title II net neutrality rules. The commission is expected to pass his proposal at its Dec. …

Read More

Mist Applies AI to Improve Wi-Fi

By: Paula Bernier    11/9/2017

Mist has created an AI-driven wireless platform that puts the user and his or mobile device at the heart of the wireless network. Combining machine le…

Read More

International Tech Innovation Growing, Says Consumer Technology Association

By: Doug Mohney    11/8/2017

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) is best known for the world's largest trade event, but the organization's reach is growing far beyond the CE…

Read More

Broadcom Makes Unsolicited $130B Bid for Qualcomm

By: Paula Bernier    11/6/2017

In what could result in the biggest tech deal in history, semiconductor company Broadcom has made an offer to buy Qualcomm for a whopping $130 billion…

Read More

How Google's 'Moonshot' Could Benefit Industrial Markets

By: Kayla Matthews    10/30/2017

The term "moonshot" encapsulates the spirit of technological achievement: an accomplishment so ambitious, so improbable, that it's equivalent to sendi…

Read More