Smart fleet, VDIs for better WFH management by enterprises: Rahul Agarwal, Lenovo

Lenovo is a leader in the Indian IT industry for many years now. The company designs, develops, manufactures, and sells PCs, tablets, smartphones, workstations, servers, electronic storage devices, IT management software, and smart TVs, etc.

Here, Rahul Agarwal, CEO and MD, Lenovo India, talks to us about the future of work. Excerpts from an interview:

LenovoPradeep Chakraborty

DQ: How are you dealing with the Covid-19 situation? What plans have you put in place?

Rahul Agarwal: Our key priority is to ensure health and safety of our employees all over the world, continuity of manufacturing, and assist those working to contain the outbreak in communities around the world.

* We are staying closely connected with our customers to support their needs during these times. We are going out of the way to support critical customer needs in sectors like Software, Healthcare, BFSI, etc. by bringing in PCs on priority through chartered flights
* We have started offerings solutions such as smart fleet and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) for better WFH management by enterprises
* On the consumer side, we are offering Learn from Home bundles with extended finance options
* We have also partnered with e-vidyaloka to create SmarterEd, a free online platform that matches learners with volunteer educators in one-on-one online learning sessions
* We are offering free services to all PCs (even from other OEMs) till 31st May, to ease pressure off the PC consumers amid the extended Covid-19 lockdown.

* Staying closely connected with our teams through daily calls and engagement activities
* We are also supporting employees by offering services such as remote doctor consultations and virtual fitness sessions.

DQ: How are you assessing the learnings from enforced experiments around WFH?

Rahul Agarwal: Work from home was already a well-integrated policy within Lenovo. All our employees use laptops, so the lockdown transition was relatively seamless for us. However, the extended work from home has helped us make a few observations.

Remote working emphasizes the need for better cybersecurity. At Lenovo, we have a heightened responsibility to combat these increased security risks by leveraging new policies and technologies to keep their companies and employees safe.

Also, people on average spend 10 hours per week on the road, close to 20% of the time, which they now are able to save or spend for themselves. They also do not have to deal with the traffic, which is a plus point. The number of meeting hours also have considerably reduced, which gives everyone time to think of long term and strategic plans.

Overall, while there are clear benefits from Work from Home, I think it’s early to make up our mind on this. I believe a balanced approach is the key, as human touch is also important.

DQ: This is a challenging time for managers. What advice would you give them?

Rahul Agarwal: First of all, uncertain times like these could lead to anxiety and increased stress amongst everyone. My advice to all managers is to keep calm and focus on things that are directly under your control.

Secondly, we are not a remote working country culturally, which forces the management to rewire their outlook towards employees working from home. Managers need to realize that good people will work, wherever they are, as long as they have the right tools. So, my advice would be to trust your workforce and focus on output rather than activity. Finally, managers should proactively model different scenarios of the market and create plans for each scenario to be better prepared.

DQ: How does work/life balance work in a crisis like this?

Rahul Agarwal: Our research found 61% of employees feel they are as productive if not more when working from home. However, in a crisis situation like this where employees also manage household chores along with work, it’s not so straightforward to balance work / life.

A few tips to manage work/life better in these situations:
* Start your working hours as per the usual timings and create dedicated workspaces at your home to minimize distractions
* Stay connected with your teams and encourage usage of video conferencing facilities for all internal calls
* Communicate more with your teams and set expectations clearly
* Effectively channelize the time saved from commute on personal development such as picking up a new hobby.

DQ: How are you facilitating digital work? / How do you plan for a future of digiwork?

Rahul Agarwal: Future of digital work entails two parts viz., technology infrastructure and, a digiwork-ready employee base. We are facilitating and leading the shifts in both the areas:

Technology infrastructure: Through our wide-portfolio of cutting-edge PCs, Tablets and accessories, we are already enabling employees to work from anywhere. Our devices are also integrated with ThinkShield of suite of security offerings that make remote working safe. In addition to devices, we are also offering end-to-end services related to device management, thereby enabling hassle-free management for enterprises.

Digiwork-ready employee base: Gen Z and Millennials comprise ~60% of the workforce today and they are mostly comfortable with digital technologies. But as we head towards digital work, the key aspect to manage is employee emotions and one-on-one connect. This episode has given us multiple ideas on how to effectively stay connected during these times. We do daily video calls with our teams and launched multiple engagement activities to keep teams connected.

DQ: What are the solutions you are now offering for the Future of Work / WFH?

Rahul Agarwal: We offer vast portfolio of products and services designed to support our customers and employees working from home including:

* ThinkPad laptops at all performance levels and price ranges.
* Accessories such as a noise-canceling headset w/ microphone are useful for the many conference calls being conducted.
* For those who need increased computing power, like engineers, designers, architects and others, we offer mobile workstations and remote rack workstations that can easily access cloud applications, large datasets and ISV certified software.
* Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Presenter Mouse, a smart choice for such consumers. It can be turned into a virtual gyro presenter with one twist—ready for a quick presentation anytime, anywhere.
* The ThinkPad USB-C Dock Gen2 transfers USB data at lightning-fast 10 Gbps speeds, and has access to a stable, stress-free wired network connection.
* The Lenovo powered USB-C Travel Hub is a travel-ready productivity powerhouse, in short a One-stop travel docking point. Connect and charge your devices wherever you happen to be. It has six connectivity options to a single device.
* Productive pixel-perfect high definition FHD 1080P video conferencing with Lenovo 500 FHD webcam. It’s easy to operate, and the functional mechanical mechanism creates an excellent user experience and provides Full HD user experience.
* Lenovo Professional Ultra-slim Wireless Keyboard Combo is made for maximum comfort yet slim enough to take up minimal space. It features a 2.5-zone ultraslim keyboard at only 12 mm (0.47 in) thick with integrated rechargeable battery lasting for 3 months in 2.5 hours of charging time.
* Additionally, Lenovo offers a complete client virtualization and virtual desktop solution including technical services to help customers get this up and running quickly.

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