Companies planning a shift to a hybrid work setup—where employees can work from their home or the office—can benefit from learning how leading enterprises are switching to more flexible work arrangements. One such leading enterprise is Digital Realty, the world’s largest data center provider.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Digital Realty’s Chief Information Officer, Ed Diver, for a Gartner Digital Workplace session about how his organization’s employees have adapted to working away from the office over the past year—and the company’s journey to a hybrid workplace.
It’s crucial that Digital Realty keeps its services running, especially during a pandemic. Businesses around the world rely on its 275 data centers for their mission-critical operations. So, I imagined it must have been a big mission to send employees home during the pandemic while ensuring its facilities continued to operate nonstop.
Thankfully, Digital Realty had already equipped its workforce to work from anywhere.
“We’re so enabled with cloud applications in our company,” says Ed. “We’ve run almost everything in the cloud and digitally since I’ve been here.”
So, when the pandemic hit, it had little impact on Digital Realty’s employees. They had the tools to seamlessly work from anywhere in the world. But like many of us who have worked from home during the past year, they’ve had to maintain their focus on work while supervising children who were learning remotely, and while sharing their internet connections with everyone at home.
“We really didn’t anticipate what it was going to be like to be cooped up at home for months on end,” Ed says.
Maintaining the Company Culture
The lack of face-to-face interaction for many months has taken a toll on the organization, according to Ed. And it’s particularly hard for new employees to build relationships with colleagues.
But virtual activities have helped. For example, the company has an open mic concept where employees can join a BlueJeans video conference and talk openly about a given topic. It also offers happy hours, costume day, and other fun stuff to keep things light for everyone.
“And we’ve gone out of our way to make sure that when someone new comes in, we take the time to introduce them on a call and share some fun facts about the individual,” says Ed. “We try to make sure we do that in all the meetings that we have, so that people feel like they are part of the culture and fit in.”
Onboarding Customers with Virtual Tours
The same technology that is helping employees has also improved the customer onboarding process. The company rolled out virtual tours of its data centers after COVID-19 struck, enabling customers to see its facilities despite travel restrictions.
“It actually proved to be more valuable for us than when we were doing in-person tours, because a sales engineer on the site can visit any part of the facility,” says Ed. “And from the customer standpoint, it’s better too because they weren’t taking time away from their day to travel, and we were able to reach many more people.
“It’s really interesting that the technologies we’ve implemented—and BlueJeans being one of those—made quite a remarkable difference for us.”
Moving to Hybrid Work
As the company contemplates the future of work after the pandemic, it is looking to take advantage of the hybrid work model.
“I think in the old operating model, we had three or four offices across the world with my name on the door,” says Ed.
“I’m trying to get away from that and move more to a hoteling concept, where you can come in on a given day. Whatever day you’re going to be in and whatever facility it is, you reserve a space and you use that space for the day.”
To support today's hybrid workplace, BlueJeans can make sure your video conferencing capabilities and meeting rooms connect seamlessly to Microsoft Teams or BlueJeans—enabling your employees to collaborate effectively.