Customer Perspective: Workforce Transformation and Agility in 2020

Ed. Note: This blog was guest authored by Scott Potoczak, Director of IT Customer Support, Baker Botts

No one can predict the future, but as a global law firm, Baker Botts understands the importance of planning for all possibilities. Shortly after the first COVID-19 cases surfaced in the United States, we quickly realized that providing staff with disinfecting wipes wasn’t enough to keep them safe. In-person appointments and conferences rapidly switched to virtual meetings. And within 10 days of our initial office-planning discussions, all our offices had closed.

To ensure that we could support the needs of clients and their schedules, employees immediately had to work from home—and stay productive. Thankfully, we were ready for this scenario. We had just completed a workforce transformation initiative with Dell, so employees were already equipped with the right IT tools and processes. 

Making Strategic Plans to Minimize Disruptions

Four years ago, we had engaged Dell as a strategic IT partner to help adopt a holistic, long-term approach to workforce transformation. As we worked with Dell in choosing new client devices, we decided to issue every employee a Dell Latitude 7390 or 7400 2-in-1 laptop instead of a traditional desktop. Life is full of surprises and we have employees who work in areas impacted by hurricanes, earthquakes, snowstorms and floods. Issuing laptops to every employee enables them to work from any location at any time, especially when that’s needed to protect their health and safety. Another way notebooks cut risk is by reducing the use of personal devices for client meetings and other work, which can introduce security issues.

To further boost productivity, employees use their choice of Dell UltraSharp 24 USB-C Monitor – U2419HC or Dell UltraSharp 34 Curved Ultrawide Monitor – U3415W. Having multiple displays boosts productivity and high resolution monitors decrease eyestrain, especially for lawyers who spend a significant part of their day reading. We deploy Dell Display Manager software on employees’ laptops to simplify the use of multiple monitors. With the software, staff can easily display windows side-by-side, change the size and placement of windows using grids, and snap windows in place on a specific area of a screen. 

Transitioning from Corporate to Home Offices Instantly

When COVID-19 hit and offices closed, staff simply brought their laptops, power adapters, keyboards, mice and phone headsets home. Some also took their Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter, so they could connect their laptops to the monitors and other accessories. Most were able to connect and configure their multiple displays with little to no assistance from our IT desk by using Dell Display Manager software.

Employees who did not have monitors at home but needed them to stay productive could order them through our Dell portal.  We opted for this approach because professional shipments minimize breakage. We also don’t know if people will have to switch between working at home and at offices in the future to stay safe.

Other steps we took during our workforce transformation meant that we avoided the IT infrastructure issues other companies have faced during the pandemic. For example, we had already bolstered our VPNs to support more traffic and simplify access. So even though our entire workforce is now remote, everyone has quick and secure access to their data and applications. We had also replaced our manual server-maintenance processes with an automated model delivered by Dell Managed Services. As a result, we didn’t have to develop and implement new data center processes—and our IT staff didn’t have to travel to data centers during shelter-in-place orders.

Facilitating Consistent Productivity Levels

By creating highly flexible workforce solutions with Dell, we have kept our work productivity at or close to 100 percent in all departments during the pandemic. That’s because our employees already had the IT tools they needed to work from home and follow health and safety guidelines. Regardless of their location, employees can participate in video conferences, compare documents side-by-side—and do both at the same time. We are continuing to partner with Dell to help ensure that we have the agility needed to stay productive regardless of what the future brings.