In early 2020, who could have predicted the number and scale of changes we would experience about how and where we work? The pandemic and IT decisions that were made in response caused many people to move away from the office and required them to adapt to work processes that included virtual experiences and various devices.
Although initially these circumstances seemed to be major obstacles, they have evolved to be seen as an advantage for many employees who have enjoyed the flexibility that remote work offers. Employers, in turn, discover that this flexibility is becoming a serious expectation for workers. According to a recent Accenture report, on-site working life will need to be reinvented for any organization that wants to succeed.
Gary Radburn, director of virtual and augmented reality solutions at Dell, joined CDW’s Tech Talk online streaming to provide insight into how the work is evolving and how technological innovations will take these changes into account.
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Four stages of evolution after the onset of the pandemic
Radburn said the business and its customers experienced four different phases in responding to the pandemic and how it changed operation as we knew it.
“The first stage was, frankly, with an abject panic, when we started saying,‘ Okay, how can we maintain productivity with our workforce? “It was,‘ What’s not nailed inside the office and what can I put in the trunk of a car? ’Then take that computer home, reconnect it, put it on your network, and then , keep doing the local data that is there, ”Radburn said.
The realities of life that invaded home offices brought a second scenario described by Radburn. “Now all of a sudden, it’s not as small as you remember it being in your open-plan office again. With all of these cables indoors now, you may have your children running, having their drinks hand-picked, tripping over the cables, and having the drink go over your electrical equipment. Try to record a call, but no one can visit you due to social distancing. So this becomes a bit of a nightmare. This brought us to the second stage. The second stage is mobility. “
When workers started working at home with machines, Radburn described that he was “as powerful as the ones you would use under your desk” in the office and began to have access to all the data from his organizations, the security became a major issue. “Now you lose control over your data, and while it was great to get people to work, how can we manage that data effectively to ensure that our IP doesn’t spread? That leads us to the third stage, which that’s when we’re remote now, ”Radburn said.
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Using a home system that connects via a remote control protocol, Bradburn said, allows workers to interact with their workstations as if they were in the office. “You’re using a lower-powered device, maybe your home computer that you use to buy on the Internet, or a gaming computer that you may have. You can have this as a window into your world of work. With the information that’s actually stored. in the office, it never leaves the premises. Everything that appears to you is pixels “.
Once you’ve locked in a security system that can protect your data, Radburn continued: “It really only limits your distance from the office and the latency it really introduces to that endpoint. Then we move on to the fourth stage. The fourth phase is consolidation in the data center. We now have all these workstations in the office and we don’t have people in the seats. Why will we have office and air conditioning units that generate costs in an empty space when we can actually move these workstations or customers to the data center and consolidate them so we can virtualize them? ”.
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How virtual and augmented reality can improve remote work
Radburn said Dell does not plan to return completely to the office and will accept remote work possibilities. He acknowledged the challenges of managing and training employees remotely, but also highlighted the potential of innovative technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality as tools for these tasks.
“Here at Dell, we have democratized systems. Before you had to have a very expensive platform to be able to drive a virtual reality headset. The price has now dropped over the years. They’re much more affordable and accessible now, and we’re seeing this really ignite the company on how you can use it in your business environment, ”Radburn said.
“Learning a VR headset has been shown to be more beneficial than an audiovisual presentation,” he continued. “Within virtual reality, 75 percent of what you see and do really comes in. It’s a great learning medium for transmitting information, and I think that really drives the innovations we’re seeing in the landscape.”
One of the biggest advantages Radburn sees in using virtual reality in the workplace is the sense of presence. “As human beings, we love micro-expressions, we love face-to-face contact. We’re losing a lot of that within conference calls and anything else, and people are starting to have that fatigue that people talk about. If we can really allow people to interact in different ways, then we are also beginning to achieve that commitment. ”
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Radburn mentioned that Dell is partnering with HTC to use the company’s headphones on a platform called HTC SYNC Manager. “We actually use it for conference meetings. In fact, you can set up a 3D conference room. It doesn’t have to be a boring four-walled one; you can do it with a view of the ocean with bridges and anything else, “he said.” And if you also have things like eye tracking, you can actually see where people are looking. You can see that people are committed ”.
AR and VR are scalable for many industry uses
Radburn spoke enthusiastically about the scalability and accessibility of RA and VR. “Everything about virtual reality is that it is really scalable. You can now get a headset for a couple of hundred dollars or there are a five-digit headset, depending on what you want to do. Some headphones incorporate reality and virtual reality.
He explained the difference between the two technologies by saying that RV is everything that is computer generated. RA, on the other hand, enhances existing computer images by superimposing images on top of them.
“When we start to see people using virtual reality, it’s in every industry. I mean it completely: there’s no vertical, whether for media or entertainment, for construction, for health, education, all of these areas use the RV to get involved, ”Radburn said.
Strategic partnerships can help you overcome small budgets and staff
Schools have been one of the jobs most affected by the technological evolution driven by a pandemic and have been forced to fight these changes despite having budgetary and staffing constraints.
Kim Nidy, director of technology at North Canton City Schools in Ohio, joined the webcast to share some of her experiences providing innovative technology in an education system, including the story of how her school system implemented a device program a to.
Nidy and some of her colleagues were successful in pushing the community to pass a permanent improvement rate, which provides annual money to constantly rotate devices for both students and staff. However, the deployment of the program posed many challenges.
“Do you have problems with, okay, how can I implement all this on students? Do I take education time during the day to download and pick them up? How do we track them to find out which student has which device? How do we fix them? we instruct our staff and our students on how to use the devices, because if they don’t know how to use them effectively, you won’t get the value of having this program, ”Nidy explained.
Having small staff and a limited budget were also obstacles for schools. In addition to the help of a handful of key staff members, Nidy was also able to receive help from CDW. “I had partnered with CDW through our sales representative. I would ask, ‘Okay, I want to do this in my class. What do I need to do?’ And it would help me. And in the fall of 2013, our state announced a Straight A grant opportunity “.
Since the school had already implemented its individual program, Nidy found herself deliberating on what to apply for through the grant. “I picked up the phone and called Eric on the CDW and said,‘ Hey, what’s new? What are you listening to? What’s the buzz? He said, “Active learning furniture really is a precedent.” So it helped me. It helped me connect with a company and we went on tours and learned more about furniture. Then I wrote the grant application together with one or two co-workers, and we knew we had won ”.
Nidy said she still has goosebumps thinking about winning the nearly $ 5 million grant that brought 1,000 devices to the district, and that gives credit to her relationship with CDW. “I honestly don’t think it would have happened without this relationship, because I wasn’t aware of it. It has those connections, ”he said.
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