This content is sponsored by Dell Technologies

Sponsored by Dell Technologies

This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's Studio/B in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.

The key to building a resilient business? A strong remote team

With its Connected Workplace program, Dell Technologies invested in its virtual workforce. 10 years later, they’re leading the way in remote work.

Back in March, many found themselves transforming their kitchen tables into desks and taking meetings from the couch. The sudden shift, caused by COVID-19 safety precautions, upended the way many people were used to thinking about work. But for Dell Technologies employee Melanie Derome, home had been her office since day one. 

“Our Connected Workplace program means that I can plan my workday around my life,” Derome says. The initiative, which was established in 2009, gives Dell Technologies employees the flexibility to choose both where and when they work. While many take advantage of Connected Workplace by operating outside the office on certain days of the week, Melanie has been a virtual team member for the entire time she’s been at Dell Technologies—over 11 years. Today, she’s a Global Social Impact Public Relations Lead and is based in the UK. 

With Connected Workplace, employees can find a balance between work and family commitments.

While Derome felt the pandemic’s effects on work and family life, she found the flexibility at work made a tough situation easier to navigate. “With two children at home and my partner also working remotely, we had to figure out a new schedule,” she says. “Being able to work flexibly meant that we could split the days.” Her partner now starts work early and “comes home” at lunch so she can start the workday and work into the evening.

But long before the pandemic, Connected Workplace had completely changed how Derome felt about work. “Dell’s philosophy is that work is an activity, not a location,” she says. “There is something so rewarding about working for a company that trusts you to get your work done in the way that works best for your lifestyle.” 


Flexible work ahead of the curve

The case for starting Connected Workplace back in 2009 was a simple one—how could the company optimize its global real estate footprint and continue to attract top talent? “It wasn’t necessarily something that a lot of companies looked at,” says Mohammed Chahdi, head of Americas HR operations at Dell Technologies. 

a man on the couch working from a laptop with a dog sitting beside himFlexible hours make it easy to fit in hobbies—or find time for a walk during the day.

“We realized that as you’re embracing more and more flexible work culture, there is a much broader impact to your company,” says Chahdi. As Connected Workplace took off, with nearly 65% of Dell Technologies employees working flexibly before 2020, the company quickly found there were benefits beyond financial gains, too. They broadened their talent pool, opening up opportunities for more diverse staff. With fewer people commuting to the office, U.S. team members saved an estimated 136 million miles of travel per year, dramatically decreasing the company’s carbon footprint. Plus, employees who took advantage of Connected Workplace reported better job satisfaction and felt more appreciated overall.

“There are so many benefits to working remotely,” says Derome. “It can increase your physical and mental well-being. I regularly go for a run on my lunch break, or just take a walk to do a call rather than sit at my desk.” Having time in the day to dedicate to family or spend with other passions—Derome has a coworker who uses their flexible schedule to practice rugby—gives employees space to determine how they’ll be most productive. By leaving the 9–5 behind, Connected Workplace has helped Dell Technologies employees embrace their own ideal workplaces. 

a woman wearing glasses sitting at a wood table working on a laptopDell Technologies employees can choose to work from anywhere, whether a home office, local coffee shop, or other locations.

“We are reimagining work not just as a time or a place, but as an outcome,” says Chahdi. “Our job as a company is to provide the right tools and policies, etcetera, to create a culture where people feel enabled and empowered to their best job, regardless of where they do it from.” That’s important, according to Laurel Farrer, a remote work expert and the CEO of Distribute Consulting. As a virtual operations strategist, she advises businesses against the thinking that going remote is as simple as swapping in-person meetings for video conferencing and suits for sweats. “For [companies] to make the change sustainably, we have to expand the conversation from just a workplace change to adopting virtual organizational development and behavior,” she says. Problems remote employees face, like feelings of isolation or burnout, are often caused by unclear expectations and lack of support, or by the thinking that what worked in the office should translate to remote situations, too. 


Leading the way into the future of work

Now, Dell Technologies is using its learnings from over 10 years of flexible work to support its own clients, some of whom are scaling up remote operations in a big way during the pandemic. “Many of the challenges we have overcome over the years, our customers may be experiencing for the first time,” says Pat Quigley, vice president of IT team member experience, whose team transitioned 90% of workers to remote over a single weekend when the pandemic hit. He views the solutions, and Dell Technologies’ success, in three parts. 

a woman on a video conference looking at a large computer screenVirtual collaboration helps remote teams stay connected and get creative.

First, culture matters. “It’s important to enable an environment where people can connect and find spaces for the hallway-type conversations where the magic happens,” he says. Second, processes—from onboarding to performance management—have to be adapted to offsite workers’ needs. Lastly, companies need technology that supports collaboration and allows employees to be productive. That includes everything from security upgrades to network enhancements and collaboration software, which Dell Technologies provides to customers as well as their own remote workforce of more than 150,000 people worldwide. 

Now that so many are testing out remote work, what will the future look like? “You’re just going to have a much more unleashed workforce that can do the job regardless of where and when,” says Chahdi. “As far as I’m concerned, sky’s the limit.” 

As for Derome, she hopes other companies come to understand the power of a remote team. “Talent is everywhere,” she says. “You don’t need to be based in the same location to get innovative ideas, be part of a project, contribute.” With that, she wants flexibility to become the norm for more employers and for the 9–5 to become a thing of the past.  

“I don’t think I could return to a role where I had to be in the office for set hours every day,” she says. 


This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's Studio/B in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.