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More digital employees translate into higher growth

Research reveals strong correlation between providing employees with a positive digital experience and business growth and ability to attract and keep top talent

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VMware, a leading innovator in enterprise software, has released a study into the state of digital workspace technologies which reveals that high growth companies that invest more in the digital employee experience are more likely to achieve business growth, have a progressive culture, retain talent and be rated as a top place to work by their employees.

Two thirds of employees (66%) across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) report that the flexibility of digital tools required for work would influence their decision to apply for or accept a position at a company, with 70% of all respondents saying their current employer should be placing more importance on this.

However, if companies are to reap the rewards of digital workspace technologies, greater collaboration between HR and IT is needed to improve the digital employee experience. Employee education is required to remove ambiguity over who is responsible for providing employees with a positive digital experience, with 49% of employees not knowing if they should approach HR or IT about their experience, and 21% feeling this is another barrier to delivering a positive experience.

In addition, the research demonstrates how surveyed organisations that have higher rates of growth** provide more digital experience factors, that include having access to devices, tools, apps and technology wherever they perform work activities,  to their employees (6, on average), compared to companies that have lower rates of revenue growth (3-4, on average). For example, those that are underperforming/not growing are much less likely to give employees the freedom to work from their personal device (36%),  give access to applications that enable productivity from day one (36%) and provide applications on any device for their most important tasks (excluding email) (47%), compared to those experiencing high growth/hypergrowth (76%, 68% and 93%, respectively).

And while there are different people who respondents see as ultimately responsible for the digital experience, 84% of employees are calling for HR and IT to work better together, particularly given that only 18% of employees report HR and IT collaborate all of the time, with eight in 10 respondents saying HR should be given more responsibility in improving the digital employee experience. 

“Too often, the conversation about digital transformation focuses on the technology and leaves out a key ingredient to a winning strategy – attracting and retaining the best talent,” says Ian Jansen van Rensburg, senior systems engineer at VMware. “To compete for the best talent, companies are prioritising employee experience, which encompasses technology, workstyle and culture.”

Delivering a better digital employee experience also plays a role in workforce sentiment. 

Respondents who say their organisation gives them the ability to work from anywhere as easily as from the office are significantly more likely to say they are proud of their organisation, compared to respondents whose company does not enable the freedom to work from anywhere (72% compared to 27%, respectively). They are also more likely to claim their organisation has a progressive culture (73% vs. 25%), is recognised as one of the top places to work (71% vs. 28%) and provides good work-life balance (70% vs. 28%).

“It’s very important that we give our employees the opportunity to shape their working environment as they see best fit for themselves,” says Dirk Eckert, managing director, Individual Solutions and Products, Deutsche Telekom. “Traditional values influencing how people picked a company as an employer were job security, a good salary and company benefits, but choice of how, where and with what device you can work is becoming increasingly important, especially for young people.”

A third of respondents who say that there are challenges to delivering the optimum digital experience cite a lack of understanding of what employees want as the biggest obstacle, followed by it not being considered a business priority (20%). Almost two thirds (61%) of employees feel like they don’t even have a voice when it comes to the tools they can use at work, despite 83% of ITDMs believing they do give employees a voice in this area.

Says Jansen van Rensburg: “Leaders committed to improving employee experience are adopting the digital workspace, a concept VMware pioneered three years ago. A digital workspace platform fuels modern digital experiences, which is critically important to current and prospective employees as well as improving other key business outcomes.”

Jean Pierre Brulard, senior vice president and EMEA general manager, VMware, says: “The key to any company’s success is its human capital. It allows them to innovate, execute and lead in the marketplace. But as talented employees find more adaptable job options that are amenable to their lifestyles and career goals, employers have no choice but to compete harder than ever to attract and retain them.” 

About the research

*In March and April 2019, 3,600 EMEA employees (1,800), IT decision makers (900) and HR decision makers (900) who use computer/smart devices for work purposes were interviewed. The number of respondents from each EMEA country were: UK (600), Germany (600), France (600), Italy (200), Netherlands (200), Russia (200), Poland (200), Norway (200), Sweden (200), Spain (200), UAE (200) and Saudi Arabia (200). They were from organisations in a range of public and private sectors and their organisation had to have an employee size of 500 employees or more.

**Companies cited as experiencing high growth/hypergrowth YoY on average have 6.3 digital employee experience factors out of ten, compared to 3.7 factors in companies not experiencing growth.

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The PC is back!

… and 2020 will be its big year, writes CHRIS BUCHANAN, client solutions director at Dell Technologies

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Concept Ori

It turns out the PC’s death has been exaggerated. PC sales grew between 1.1% and 1.5% in the last few quarters of the year, according to Gartner. While those don’t sound like massive leaps, they represent a large market that has been declining for several years. Windows 10 is credited for this surge, especially as Windows 7 is leading towards its end of life (EOL).

But I don’t think that is the entire picture. Windows 10 upgrades have been taking place for several years, and the market has also gotten savvier about managing EOL. Other factors are driving the adoption of PCs.

A specific one is how much closer the PC now sits to smartphones. I recently watched some youngsters work with laptops that had touchscreens. They hardly ever touched the keyboard, instead tapping and swiping on the screen. Yet they were still working on a laptop, not a smartphone. Certain things are much easier to do on a PC than a phone, and users are realising this. They aren’t relinquishing the convenience of their smartphones but applications are now available on PC’s and often easier to use.

Convertible or 2-in-1 machines have closed the gap between the two device types. This is in contrast to tablets. If you observe how people sit with tablets, it’s the opposite of smartphones or laptops. With the latter, we sit forward, attentive and focused. But tablets often prompt people to recline. It’s just a casual observation, yet I believe that PCs and smartphones have much more overlap with each other than pure tablet devices. Additionally, the convertible laptop has become the new tablet.

Chris Buchanan

Why does this bode well for PCs in 2020? 2-in-1 machines break down the barriers between the utility of a PC and collaborative culture of a smartphone. You can now flip a laptop into tent mode and use it as an interactive presentation screen on a boardroom table, or cradle it like a clipboard you jot on with a digital pen.

In the next year, we’ll see more of the market responding to this trend. Premium 2-in-1 devices have a stable and growing audience of users who are now going into their second, third and even fourth generations of devices. Mid-range and entry-level laptops are also starting to adopt touchscreens and flip displays.

2-in-1 devices are also pushing innovation, such as the emergence of dual-screen systems. Dell revealed two such concept devices at CES this year: Project Duet, a dual screen laptop, and Project Ori (for origami), a more compact approach to foldable devices. We also unveiled Project UFO, a prototype Alienware device that puts triple-A PC gaming into a handheld device. All of these reflect the desire for touch-enabled devices that are portable without sacrificing performance or excellence. They definitely point us to the future.

Convertible devices are not a new form factor. I can recall the first flip-over touchscreen designs appearing 15 years ago. Back then they were exotic and the standard laptop ruled the roost. But today, the habits and expectations of users are driving a change decisively towards convertible devices.

Desktop PCs are meanwhile becoming more specialised, yet also more widely appreciated for their versatility. Specialist non-Windows PCs, such as those used by designers, are being replaced by Windows PCs, often for lower costs. Integrated discrete graphics chips and other advancements add a lot of value to modern desktops. The smartphone overlap also appears here: many people use services such as Whatsapp Web on their PCs, and Dell customers use the Dell Mobile Connect app to show their smartphone screen on their PC display.

There is a new synergy between the PC and smartphone, created by users who find the two complement each other. Not everyone has realised this yet, but in 2020 that will be the resounding message. The PC is back and 2020 will be its year.

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Jaguar designs ‘seat of the future’

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Jaguar Land Rover is developing the seat of the future – a pioneering shape-shifting system designed to improve customer wellbeing by tackling the health risks of sitting down for too long.

The ‘morphable’ seat, being trialled by Jaguar Land Rover’s Body Interiors Research division, uses a series of actuators in the seat foam to create constant micro-adjustments that make your brain think you’re walking, and could be individually tailored to each driver and passenger.

More than a quarter of people worldwide – 1.4 billion – are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, which can shorten muscles in the legs, hips and gluteals causing back pain. The weakened muscles also mean you are more likely to injure yourself from falls or strains. 

By simulating the rhythm of walking, a movement known as pelvic oscillation, the technology can help mitigate against the health risks of sitting down for too long on extended journeys with some drivers doing hundreds of kilometres per week. 

Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Medical Officer, said: “The wellbeing of our customers and employees is at the heart of all our technological research projects. We are using our engineering expertise to develop the seat of the future using innovative technologies not seen before in the automotive industry to help tackle an issue that affects people across the globe.”

Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles already feature the latest in ergonomic seat design, with multi-directional adjustments, massage functions and climate control fitted across the range. Dr Iley has also issued advice on how to adjust your seat to ensure the perfect driving position, from removing bulky items in your pocket, to shoulder positioning and from ensuring your spine and pelvis are straight to supporting your thighs to reduce pressure points. View the video here.

The research is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to continually improving customer wellbeing through technological innovation. Previous projects have included research to reduce the effects of motion sickness and the implementation of ultraviolet light technology to stop the spread of colds and flu. 

Together, these efforts are driving towards Destination Zero; Jaguar Land Rover’s ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner – a responsible future for our workers, customers and communities around us. Through relentless innovation, Jaguar Land Rover is adapting product and services to meet the rapidly-changing world.

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