Tapping into human ingenuity: How employees use remote work to do their jobs better

Human beings are incredibly creative and resourceful. During the COVID-19 crisis, we adapted to a situation most of us had never even imagined. Companies adapted, too, shifting to a cloud- and internet-based infrastructure that enabled employees to work remotely. Now, organizations should look at what their talented employees did with that freedom and those tools, identify the successes, and then adopt those use cases throughout their operation.

As Atos worked with our clients over the past year, we saw how employees took advantage of this new flexibility. Here are examples in three markets on which we focus: telecommunications, media and technology.

Field service in telecommunications

Field technicians, by definition, already work remotely. So it would be logical to assume that the switch to remote had little impact on their work. Yet before the crisis these workers were hampered by technology limitations. A field tech used a ruggedized laptop to diagnose and troubleshoot equipment problems on a cell tower, but if he needed to collaborate with engineers back at the central office, he had to use a different device, his corporate laptop. This was because of the limitations of fixed infrastructure, corporate networks and digital configuration policies. Before, IT imaged each device separately. Each brand or type of device required a different configuration and security policy. That meant separate imaging for the ruggedized computer and the corporate laptop. Often it was only the corporate laptop that had the permissions and capabilities to connect to the corporate network. So the technician either had to lug a second machine up the tower, or had to go back down to get the laptop from his truck.

During the pandemic, we helped many companies adopted cloud and unified endpoint management, which enabled us to configure specific policies and access based on the user, not the machine. Now a technician’s rugged machine can include integrated cellular, giving him the ability to connect with engineering. This enables true real-time collaboration, saving time, increasing productivity and avoiding the kind of hair-pulling frustration this type of limitation can prompt. The tech can easily email a diagnostic code or even a photo of a damaged circuit board to engineers. Engineers can share diagrams, documents and data from similar failures.

Content creation in media

The software and tools that creative workers like graphic designers and audio or video producers use require a lot of processing power. Traditionally, that tied them to specialized, souped-up workstations in the office. Although vendors have made more capabilities available in the cloud, not all organizations had reconfigured their infrastructure to take advantage of it remotely. If remote designers could use the tools at all, they had to log in and access the tools via the corporate network. With all of the processing required, this could be very slow, sapping productivity. When COVID-19 sent everybody home, IT departments configured home laptops, smartphones and even high-end workstations with the appropriate permissions and security to access cloud-based tools over the internet.

Now, creators can work on the platforms they choose, and get the processing power required to remotely render graphics, video and audio on virtual workstations, for example. The heavy-duty computing is done in the cloud, rather than on the end device. And, thanks to new always-connected collaboration tools, employees can work together to edit video too. During this time of COVID cloud-based media asset management systems are ensuring that the right content flows to the right people in the right order – from writer to editor to website post!

With the right access to the right capabilities at the right time, employees are more resourceful and creative. That not only means a happy and productive workforce, it makes your entire organization more flexible, agile and creative.

Engineering and product design in technology

Tech companies employ talent from around the world, often using a “follow-the-sun” workflow in which design and development is handed off from one team to another over the course of 24 hours. Engineers no longer have to be in the office or use a VPN to access the corporate network or the right repository to access crucial spec sheets, designs or source code. Through cloud enablement, internet connectivity and secure endpoint management, any authorized engineer can quickly access the information they need. A couple of months ago, I received a call in the evening from an Atos engineer in India, who was dead in the water without information from a particular file. In the span of five minutes, I used my mobile phone to log into our central file-sharing system, enable the appropriate access rights, and email her a link. (As CTO, I have the access privileges and security protections that enable me to do this.) She could immediately get the files she needed and get on with her work. In addition, she could be confident that she could now access the latest, most up-to-date version of the file.

In the “before times,” limited infrastructure and access sapped time and productivity from employees who sometimes struggled to do their jobs in the most efficient way. Now, they’ve been freed to do so. With the right access to the right capabilities at the right time, employees are more resourceful and creative. That not only means a happy and productive workforce, it makes your entire organization more flexible, agile and creative.

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About Mike Harm
Chief Technology Officer – Workplace and member of the Scientific Community
Mike Harm is the Chief Technology Officer for the Workplace domain at Atos and has spent over 20 years providing, designing, implementing and envisioning differentiated workplace services in partnership with clients worldwide. With a background that spans support services, process engineering, IT Service Management, systems engineering and innovation product management, he is passionately connected to the technological, behavioral, and procedural pulse of the user experience from end-to-end. He is a member of the Atos Scientific Community where he explores the impact of digitization on the human experience, the future of work, and new concepts of productivity and employment emerging from digital trends. In his role at Atos, he is responsible for technology partnerships, supplier strategic relationships, overall workplace vision and strategy as well as delivery technology policy in the workplace domain and adherence enforcement to those policies throughout service and product development lifecycle.

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