Showing posts with label HCM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HCM. Show all posts

Friday, March 11, 2022

It’s Official—Flexible and Remote Work are Here to Stay, Say Empowered Employees

Transcript of a discussion on new research into how innovations such as contingent labor exchanges and intelligent workspaces are changing the future of work forever.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

The world’s office workers now have more clout and influence than ever over where and how they do their jobs. Those who have worked from home and want to continue are spurring on their employers to do more than embrace hybrid work. They’re seeking to reinvent the very nature of employment.

Stay with us now as we explore new research into how innovations such as contingent labor exchanges and intelligent workspaces are changing the future of work forever. To learn more about how flexible work models are the new normal for workers and businesses alike, please join me now in welcoming our guests. We’re here with Andrew Bartolini, Founder and Chief Research Officer at Ardent Partners in Boston. Welcome Andrew. 

Andrew Bartolini: Hey, Dana, I’m glad to be here.

Gardner: Tim Minahan is also here, he’s the Executive Vice President of Business Strategy at Citrix, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hey, Tim.

Tim Minahan: Hey, Dana. Glad to be back.

Gardner: Tim, COVID-19 or not, workers seem to have spoken adamantly when it comes to flexible work. What are they saying and why is flexible work here to stay?

Minahan: If you think about major historical moments throughout the ages that have kind of reset how we live and how we work, certainly the pandemic will go down in history as one of those. While no one would ever wish the pandemic to occur again, if there’s any iota of a silver lining, it’s this rapidly accelerated digital transformation which has caused employees and employers to dramatically rethink the way they work, where they work, how they work, and who does the work.


We’ve been studying this dynamic for several years from an executive and IT perspective and the knowledge-worker perspective. The latest poll of 13,000 knowledge workers around the globe clearly indicated that folks are not going back to the office five days a week. They’ve proven that they can engage and be productive anywhere, and they’re not going back. In fact, nearly 90 percent of those who participated in the poll said they plan to work on flexible models in the year ahead, with the majority of them indicating that they plan to remain fully remote.

Gardner: Is there a back and forth in how companies have been responding to this? And, of course, it’s very hard to predict what’s going to happen in two weeks, never mind two months, but is this creating some confusion, some angst? Is that contributing to what some people are calling the Great Revelation of why workers are seeking something new?

Workers want out of the office

Minahan: Certainly, there’s a near-term part of it where companies haven’t even figured out how to get folks back safely in a condition that’s conducive to working. But more realistically, it’s been a major reset. We’ve talked about the Great Resignation but also, I have heard it defined differently as the Great Revelation.

In fact, a similar study of 1,500 knowledge workers across North America shows that as many as 50 percent of workers in the U.S. have left or plan to leave their jobs. There are several different reasons, but it really boils down to three things: burnout, opt-out, and time out.

Well over a third of knowledge workers surveyed said they left their jobs because they're burned out by the stress of working in this prolonged pandemic environment as well as over the demands in the workplace.

From a burnout perspective, well over a third said they left their jobs because they’re just burned out by the stress of working in this prolonged pandemic environment as well as over the demands in the workplace. From an opt-out part, a lot of folks either took time during the pandemic to retrain themselves, to get new skills, or they just wanted a new challenge. They’ve been working at their employer for a while and they’re looking for a promotion or they literally just want to take on a new challenge.

An interesting part of the study is a number of respondents said they ditched their jobs really to feel like they can get some control over their lives, which had somewhat gotten out of control. The last part of the study is time out, and you think about the dynamics of the workforce. We often forget, but if we can think back, unfortunately 48, 50 months ago we had a global talent shortage. McKinsey was estimating that we had a shortage of 95 million medium- to high-skilled workers, especially those with the most in-demand skills, such as cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and security, skills needed to digitize and modernize your business. And guess what? That hasn’t gone away. So, these are the dynamics that are really causing a complete reset of the workplace.

Gardner: Andrew, it sounds as though workers have learned a few lessons through this whole experiment during the last couple of years. What’s working best for them when it comes to getting things done and how different is that from just two years ago?

Bartolini: Right. I mean this has been a dramatic, radical shift. Necessity is the mother of invention and at the core, people are resilient. They evolved when they had to. When we go back to March of 2020, there was no choice, but people found a way to keep working. Maybe they had a home office but more frequently, people were working from their kitchen tables and from their bedrooms.


How workers and teams were able to maintain productivity was amazing, but it wasn’t necessarily easy. Some part of our research focuses on the contingent workforce but also on the supply chain. I remember speaking to the number-two person for a Fortune 50 pharma company a couple of weeks after the shutdown. She was talking to me about how they were completely retooling several Asian factories to start manufacturing hand sanitizer because they clearly saw a huge demand or future demand coming.

We started to drill into the weeds, and I was talking about the challenges of the global supply chain. She paused and said, “The biggest challenge for us has been in dealing with the team working from home.” This was sort of at the height of uncertainty around the risks of COVID-19 and the impact there. And as someone who’s been generally working virtually for about 20 years now, I almost forgot that. I live in Boston where the rush-hour traffic is terrible because most people work in an office environment. Overnight, that changed.

It sounds odd, but the pandemic, because it helped minimize distractions -- you can’t go to a movie, you can’t go to a mall-- helped people focus on the work at hand. I think that the pandemic unified teams, I mean especially for those with family responsibilities. When you bring the office into your home, you erase the lines between work and home and things blend into each other, particularly for people with young children at home.

And so, I think the reaction to that was that team leaders and leaders of large organizations understood that they needed to instill greater levels of communication and collaboration. Really, as the leaders themselves, many chief procurement officers (CPOs) talked about having much better scheduling and interacting more with the people on their teams as well as their direct reports in a virtual environment than they had in the preceding years. So, I think it’s all part of having to learn on the fly. I think by and large, organizations were sort of able to get through the challenging time and are now settling into this period of greater uncertainty. 

Gardner: Well, it seems as though the workers get it. The workers have found how to be productive and gain balance in their whole lives quickly, but employers seem to be still thinking we’re going back to the nine-to-five and the cubicles thing. Are employers lagging in their perceptions? Why haven’t they learned the same lessons of how this can work so well?

Mind the management-employee gap

Bartolini: Yes, I do think there’s always been a gap between sort of the workers and their views and management if you will. I don’t think that the gap, at least in our research, is necessarily related to the pandemic itself. When we were looking at it sort of pre-pandemic, maybe around 21 percent of the workforce was remote. We’re doing a study right now and the early indications are that post-pandemic, fewer than 10 percent maybe even fewer than 5 percent of all businesses plan to revert to the way things were, doing that nine-to-five thing.

Workers Speak: Remote Work is Here to Stay.

Now You Can Enable it in a Secure, Reliable Way.

So, I think that the gap is a larger, more general one. I mean, Great Resignation, Great Revelation right there. When you look at the shift in power from employer to employee over the past couple of years -- the McKinsey study that Tim just quoted being one great example -- we’re really dealing with the market where there’s this Great Resignation plus a huge demand for talent. There’s extremely low rates of unemployment and we’re really experiencing what we would call a talent revolution. It’s a revolution that’s hitting workers of all types. It’s hitting white collar, blue collar, and the contingents as well. It impacts their voice and what they’re looking for from an employer, whether that’s flexibility or a sort of greater alignment between the companies that you work for and the purpose of those companies. 

There’s strong demand for engagement with corporate culture. This is really across the blended workforce. Look at the blue-collar workers seeking safer and better work conditions. Workers seek the intrinsic rewards, such as better pay, better benefits, but also the extrinsic benefits. There’s been that gap and employers have been slower to respond to that, but by necessity again, they’re going to need to start to craft engagement models and employment models that allow them to attract the best talent.

Gardner: Tim, what do these employees need to do to close this gap functionally even if they get it, even if they want to? What’s missing from a lot of employers in terms of making the accommodations to keep their employees happy, productive, and flexible?

Redefine where, who, and how talent works

Minahan: Now, the savvy employers recognize that this is an opportunity to drive greater innovation to recruit and retain the best skill set. They need to use a lot of the same tactics that they used out of necessity during the pandemic, such as allowing people to work more flexibly and remotely and arming them with more effective productivity and collaboration tools. They need to be able to rethink their workforce strategies. Whereas before they had to compete with folks down the street in major metropolitan areas such as San Francisco and New York, now they can hire the best talent by empowering the work wherever they want.

When they're doing thoughtful research, maybe it's time for them to be remote. When it comes to brainstorming and strategic planning, maybe its better for them to come together.

When you think about what this post-pandemic world of work is going to look like, there’s really three categories. One is what we’ve talked about and that you hear about in the press, which is where work gets done. It’s much more transcendent than just does Sam or Susie come back in the office three days a week, five days a week, or not at all? Really, it is about, “Gee, how do I create and maybe even rethink the role that the office plays? How do we create a work environment and a toolset that allows employees to perform the different types of work they do in the best way possible?” When they’re doing kind of thoughtful, meaningful research and other work, maybe it’s better for them to be remote. When it comes time for brainstorming, planning, strategic planning, that type of thing, maybe it’s better for them to come together.

Then you begin to look at your real-estate footprint. “Do we have a big office in a major metropolitan area, or do we downscale? Do we transform that office from one where everyone goes into the office, punches a virtual clock and closes the door into more of a collaboration space where they come together for very discrete moments and activities, or into a customer-experience space where we can invest more in those high-traffic metropolitan areas and create an engaging experience such as you might experience in an Apple store?” That’s the “where.”

Then, there’s the “who.” Smart companies recognize that they can use what they learn through the pandemic around remote work to go out and recruit new talent. In other areas, they’re not beholden to a commuting distance to one of their office hubs. Also, thinking about rebalancing the workforce where they might not be able to secure that developer or designer when competing with Amazon or Google on a full-time basis, there’s a whole host of very skilled and talented freelance workers and free agents who have that skill that are willing and interested in taking the projects that they want. So, you can get the top talent.

And then the last part is the “how they work.” Over the several past few decades, we’ve been amassed a massive amount of tech debt. We’ve deployed a whole host of individual devices and applications that on their own were designed to solve a particular business process whether that’s automating the procurement process or something else, right, Andrew?

Bartolini: Right.

Minahan: However, when you stack them all on top of each other, there’s a cacophony of technology now that disrupts an employee’s day. So, having a digital workspace allows an employee to have access to all the work resources they need in a very secure way, no matter where work gets done, and layers it with automation and productivity and collaboration tools that allow them to work at their best. It allows for more efficient work execution and collaboration across all of these systems so that they’re not being disrupted throughout the day, but they actually quickly can get work done, quickly find the information they need, and do their best most meaningful work.

Gardner: Andrew, Tim just laid out some interesting things around where and who and how but the “who” kind of jumps out at me. It seems to me that a full-time employee (FTE) isn’t the only option. You don’t always need to know where they are, but maybe you also don’t need an FTE for every type of process or productivity. So, what is the future of work exchange and how should we think about the types of labor categories differently while we’re re-examining everything else at the same time?

Flexible work here, there, and everywhere

Bartolini: Tim is exactly right, and I think your question is absolutely on point. So, the future of work exchange is a web site that our partners launched only last year. We’ve been tracking the growth and expansion of the contingent workforce since the start for the past 13 years. They’ve really focused on what we define as the future of work and we think about that as the strategic optimization of how work gets done through the evolution of talent engagement, the advent of new technology and innovative tools, and the transformation of business standards.

And the reason why we’ve invested greater resources in this area is because the growth and expansion of the contingent workforce, the extended workforce -- it’s called a lot of different things today-- has grown dramatically over the past decade. Our research shows that 47 percent of all workers working for a company today are not FTEs. So almost half of all workers are contingent workers. They’re the independent contractors and consultants.

A decade ago, that number was 25 percent, and we expect that number to climb above 50 percent. We expect there’s probably a natural ceiling that will be hit at some point in a world where talent continues to be a major differentiator. But as organizations start to be more focused on “how” work gets done, rather than “who” does it, there’s been a shift. We’ve erased many of the geographic constraints that companies have traditionally had when trying to staff projects and to find the best talent. That’s been removed by technology and the advent of digital marketplaces where people can find the talent and do matching.

Workers Are on the Move. Here Are Five Things

To Keep Your Business Moving With Them.

There’s been a shift in the way that organizations are thinking about what it is that they need to do to get their projects done, to get their work done, and it’s moved from the old view where the contingent worker was the temporary employee. Somebody’s going on vacation, somebody’s going out on maternity leave, we need to find somebody to fill a tactical position. Now, the expanded view of who we can bring in to do work and what that work is, much more strategic projects. It’s an evolving mindset that has been accelerated by the pandemic. It’s an interesting and exciting time for those working in procurement and HR to get their hands around what does their total workforce look like as they go forward.

Gardner: Tim, Ardent Partners reports that almost half of the workforce is no longer full-time. That means when they start working for a company, they’re not onboarded in the same way. They don’t get, “Here’s your 15 applications. Here’s your laptop. You have now 45 different sign-ons to deal with.” Now, you need to do all that on a more granular basis, maybe focused on a process or a project, not on an employee definition. How can technology support this interesting new mix of types of workers when it comes to getting things done?

Minahan: You’re absolutely right. That is something that companies had to grapple with throughout the pandemic. I’m thinking of some of our financial services customers that saw, as you might expect, a dramatic uptick in their remote financial advisory services.

One was telling me that they hired 3,000 new employees during the pandemic, and they needed to onboard them all remotely. They needed to get them technology very quickly, they needed to get them access to the applications and information they required and that was where they kind of really embraced a secure digital workspace strategy, leveraging in this case our desktop as a service offering to be able to quickly stand up a desktop that had a personalized workspace for that employee.

Thanks to virtual desktop-as-a-service, employees were able to get all the onboarding materials delivered in a reliable and secure manner so they could ensure the corporate information remained private and secure.

In some cases, they would send out a thin client device like a Chromebook to allow that employee to have access to a device. Or, in other cases, at least early on throughout the pandemic, they would allow them to use their home device. Because they had a virtual desktop-as-a-service offering, they were able to ensure that not only did their employee have reliable access to all the onboarding materials, all the applications, all the training, all the information needed, but also that it was delivered in a reliable and very secure way so they could ensure that their corporate information remained secure.

This is offering a whole new flexibility particularly as we look at who does the work. As we’ve transitioned virtual desktop delivery from on-premises to the cloud, it’s opened up and made desktop delivery much more turnkey and much more practical for a broader set of use cases. So, not just FTEs, but contingent workers, seasonal workers, temp labor, these freelancers that we’ve talked about, designers and the like, it’s allowed companies to stand up and empower and onboard these employees very quickly without putting their corporate resources at risk.

One great example of this is a customer and innovation partner of ours, Major League Baseball (MLB), which, throughout the pandemic in the full spotlight, had to grapple with how to put the season on, how to keep the players and employees safe, how to empower them. But at the same time, everyone was seeing rising incidents of cybersecurity threats. They were able to empower not just this employee base but also their supply chain with desktop services.

A lot of their supply chain partners are small partners and they needed to step up their security requirements and they just didn’t have a large IT department. So, MLB basically extended this desktop service to that supply chain so that they could be compliant, continue to deliver the high grade of innovative and quality services that MLB needed while meeting the stepped-up security requirements. And so, I think we’re going to see a massive shift if we believe that flexible work is here to stay. The only consistent place that an employee is going to work is going to be their digital workspace.

Gardner: Andrew, sometimes I think we get complacent about how important a role this technology is playing in allowing this all to happen. One of the ways for me to wrap my head around how essential and innovative and powerful the technology is, is to say, well, what if this pandemic hit 10 or even 15 years ago? If this had happened 10 or 15 years ago and we didn’t have cloud computing, we didn’t have desktop as a service, and virtualization was just starting out, where would we have been? It seems to me that we lucked out, right? We got just over the line on where this technology is capable enough to allow people to work remotely almost anywhere on the planet. This technology is, I think, underappreciated. 

Tech enables transition to digital workspace

Bartolini: Yeah, I would say, no doubt. I mean, there’s been a long steady march towards driving improved communication whether that’s among teams and the capability to chat or among trading partners as well. I mean, that’s another piece. If you think about the growth of the global supply chain, that’s been a technology-enabled phenomenon as much as anything else, when it comes to the workers and to the workforce, right?

If this was 10 or 15 years ago, I’d like to think that we would have seen many of today’s innovations come along much sooner. But from a workforce management standpoint, when you’re dealing with a workforce that is not full-time, that is much more transient in how it engages and how you engage, your approach to that workforce necessarily has to change. From a technology standpoint, if you have your old HR playbook of how you onboard a traditional employee, you need that same playbook now for the freelancers, for the temps, and you need to have those things codified and smooth because there’s a war for talent that’s going on right now.

And so, it’s not just the FTEs that are picking and choosing when and how they engage. It’s the independents as well. It is this extended workforce. And so, you as an organization have to be at the ready. You have to be the employer of choice whether that’s a short-term project or the long-term employer of still 50 percent of the workforce.

So, yes, technology has been absolutely critical, and it is only going to play a greater role. When I speak to procurement leaders, CPOs and directors of sourcing, there’s been a shift that has happened and it’s going to continue to happen. As you see company offices and the investment in corporate real estate shrink, that money is redeployed to productivity tools, to technology that can create the digital workspaces that Tim has just been talking about. So, there is this transition, and the technology has absolutely played a key role.

Gardner: And Tim, we talked a little earlier about employers needing to close the gap between recognizing a flexible workforce future. It seems to me that this has forced them to appreciate how impactful the technology can be, and in many ways, we’re only scratching the surface of what the technology is capable of. So, is the silver lining here that we’ve created a catalyst to technology adoption and therefore also a catalyst to further technology development?

Minahan: Yes, Dana. I think it’s the combination. Certainly, the pandemic has expedited everything as folks are looking at accelerating their digital transformation and the shift to more flexible work models. That is causing companies to think not just about how to deliver all the work resources, all the applications, all the content, all the collaboration tools that employees need to be productive and do it securely so they can work anywhere, but also looking at, “Gee, how do I help them work better?”

At the top of the list for prioritized investments for IT are collaboration tools that foster more efficient work execution across all these distributed work environments.

If you look at any of the analyst studies out there, at the top of the list of prioritized investments for IT this year are collaboration tools. Tools that foster more efficient work execution and collaboration across these distributed work environments. Some of them are actual tools such as whiteboarding tools, project management tools. And some of them are actually, this role in robotic process automation (RPA) or automation providing a way for frontline business analysts and business users to knit together all of the source systems to complete a single business process so that employees can actually not be burdened by technology but can drive differentiated business processes. That’s a key opportunity as companies are looking at, “Gee, a lot of the stuff I invested in out of necessity during the pandemic is now allowing me to drive new business processes and innovation in my business that I couldn’t think through before.”

But all of this needs to be accompanied by changes in policy and ultimately culture. So, if you think about our experience during the pandemic including on this podcast here whether we’re using Zoom or Teams or whatever, it was really the great equalizer. We all have the same size box, we all have the same access to the same tools, the same information but as we rotate back to what a lot of folks are trying to work out as hybrid work, it opens up the opportunity to create a high level of inequity in the workplace where you have these battles between the office-first culture and the remote culture and how you run meetings.

Gardner: We used to call them road warriors, remember?

Equality essential for hybrid workmates

Minahan: Exactly. And it’s a big shift that we need to talk about. How do you create equity in the workplace? You just assume that you’re going to have a planning meeting, a work environment where you’re going to have remote workers and in the office workers and how do you create that equality? So, as we talk about this hybrid work model, companies really have an opportunity now to figure it out.

Here at Citrix, for example, we are retrofitting all of our conference rooms to be hybrid oriented. We’ve got cameras now in the middle of the table. We’re operating on Teams whenever we have a meeting. We’ve got cameras on the whiteboard and we’re trying to develop protocols or policies that include remote people participating in a meeting. For example, they get to respond or ask the first questions. Those types of things which we haven’t really thought through need to be thought through, in addition to the technology infrastructure that enables such work.

What is the Future of Digital Workspaces?

Tune in to The Future of Work Podcast.

Gardner: Andrew, companies right now are sort of dealing with some tough, thorny problems around flexible work models and also the talent shortage. What does your research tell you about what they should do sooner rather than later in terms of how to best adjust to this? What is the research telling you are sort of the fast-track things that people should be doing to be best prepared for our strategic approach to these problems?

Bartolini: The new flexible work model, the extended or contingent workforce and its growth in size and in strategic impact really has changed the way that organizations need to engage talent. So, if you are a hiring manager, if you lead a large organization, hiring is now a 24/7, 365-day activity because workers’ duration and the amount of time that they’re staying with a single employee also has shortened dramatically.

And so, you need to be developing and building a talent pipeline and maintaining that pipeline in an ongoing fashion. You need to be working to become the employer of choice. The research that we’ve seen and the strategies that organizations should be employing, if they haven’t already, include that there needs to be a more empathetic approach to how you manage your people. I think that the workforce today, because of the labor shortage or the low unemployment and the high demand for talent really has allowed employees to spend more time seeking out the jobs with employers that match their own sensibilities.

Is there a purpose that the company can communicate to their candidates and to their current workers? What is the culture of the organization and how is that culture manifested when you’re dealing with people that are in a distributed environment and not meeting face to face? How are you thinking about the benefits and how are you trying to better understand what it is that your workers need from a flexibility standpoint?

I think all of those things sort of go back to how do you engage your talent? And that’s the talent that you’re trying to recruit to bring into your organization and the talent that you have now that you’re trying to retain.

Gardner: Similar question for you, Tim. As companies are grappling with flexible work and talent shortage issues that are critical, what does Citrix’s research and its product development efforts tell you that they should be doing now tactically in order to be set up strategically for this cultural shift as we’ve termed it?

Minahan: The number one thing, if you look at it, is that 90 percent of employees plan to use a flexible work model this year. And 80 percent prefer to continue on in that fashion. Companies really need to think about their workforce strategies in different ways. They need to be open to flexible work arrangements to secure the top talent and the modern skills that they need, but also to retain their existing talent who are increasingly looking for new opportunities in this hot job market.

Secondly, they need to create an environment from a technology standpoint that is conducive to allowing employees to do their best work. Before, if everyone was coming into the office, your technology investment was pretty systematic. Now, you have to look at what it is going to take to empower an employee to work from their own device while protecting corporate resources, while ensuring that they have the collaboration, communication, and productivity tools that they need to foster more efficient work execution and collaboration across this distributed environment.

Those are the types of things folks need to think about. But they need to be coupled with a change in policy and culture. One that is forward thinking about, “Okay, if I have a new workforce strategy that is a balance between FTEs and contractors to make sure we have the right skills on the right project and people who are managing things in much greater pools of talent. What are the policies that we need to put in place to make that most effective?

If I know my employees and assume that we’re always going to be in a work environment where we’ve got to have in-person and distributed folks participating in the same meeting, what am I doing to foster an environment that makes it a meaningful experience for everyone involved, not just those who are sitting in the room? And then finally, what am I doing culturally to ensure that development opportunities and career advancement opportunities are not hindered by the choice of where an employee works?

There’s a major reset that companies need to think through. In order to be competitive, to be able to secure the top talent, tame the top talent, and drive and modernize your business with this talent, you need to adjust on those three vectors.

Gardner: Tim, I really respect the amount of research that you’re doing there at Citrix. You’re being empirical and not just using gut instinct on this and that’s great. And you’re also sharing this research, so where can people go to learn more? Where can I find some of the resources that Citrix is providing?

Minahan: I appreciate the feedback, Dana. You can go to Fieldwork by Citrix where we incorporate and make our research available. We also have our own kind of remote-work podcast there. Go to to check it out.

Gardner: Andrew, where can people learn more about Ardent Partners, their research, and the future of work exchange?

Bartolini: Go to, that’s our site that’s got all of our current research and innovative ideas and tools. Tim even has a few articles up on the site there, too, which we appreciate.

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on ways workers and businesses alike are adopting flexible work models as the new normal.

And we’ve learned how innovations such as contingent labor exchanges and intelligent workspaces are empowering workers to control their destiny and reward their employers with higher productivity.

So, a big thank you to our guests, Andrew Bartolini, Founder and Chief Research Officer at Ardent Partners. Thanks, Andrew.

Bartolini: It’s been great, Dana. Thank you.

Gardner: And with Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategies at Citrix. Thanks so much, Tim.

Minahan: Thank you, Dana. I appreciate the dialogue.

Gardner: And a big thank you to our audiences as well for joining this BriefingsDirect future of work innovation discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout these series of Citrix-sponsored interviews.

Thanks again for listening. Please pass this along to your community and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Transcript of a discussion on new research into how innovations such as contingent labor exchanges and intelligent workspaces are changing the future of work forever. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2022. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

2022: The Year Technology and New Work Models Come Together to Enable Continuous Innovation

Transcript of a discussion on how technology will improve the ways businesses operate and enable employees to remain productive and content in the coming year.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

Predicting the future took on a whole new degree of difficulty the past two years. And while we can’t always know what Mother Nature will throw our way, we can learn from what worked -- and what didn’t work -- in 2021. 

Clearly, adjusting swiftly to persistent change and leveraging digital -- and often virtual -- tools, environments, and processes were major benefits. Now, how will 2022 shape up as we extrapolate on the trends around shifting work models?

How will technology, both tactically and strategically, improve the ways businesses operate and enable employees to remain productive and content, regardless of where they are?

Stay with us now as we explore the ways work continues to be reinvented while -- at the same time -- digital technologies enhance and disrupt the means through which we all collaborate and operate in our jobs.

To learn more about the ways that 2022 will set the stage for the next decade of innovation and work adaptation, please join me now in welcoming Christian Reilly, Vice President and Head of Technology Strategy at Citrix. Welcome, Christian.

Christian Reilly: Thank you for having me.

Gardner: We’re also here with Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategy at Citrix. Welcome back, Tim.

Tim Minahan: Thanks, Dana. It’s great to be here.

Gardner: Tim, do you see the speed in how work models are evolving and maturing slowing at all in 2022? Have we reached some sort of plateau yet?

Minahan: Not at all, Dana. In fact, the old adage that necessity is the mother of innovation is certainly holding true. All of the unplanned investments that organizations have made over the past two years to accommodate secure remote work have torn down barriers. That has led to new ways of operating that are going to continue to fuel unprecedented innovation and growth in the year -- and years -- ahead.


If you think about it, when the pandemic hit, companies had to find new ways to operate. They had to invest in new technologies that took them decades worth of steps forward. They not only innovated on how they work internally, but in how they engage with their customers through new digital channels.

And the technologies they used to digitize their businesses to survive have now provided new business models and a new pace of innovation across every industry -- from a dramatic increase in the role of telemedicine and remote clinics to virtual learning and, as we’re hearing now, to the metaverse -- that will enable them to thrive in the new year ahead and beyond.

Gardner: Tim, what have we learned over the past two years as the reinvention of work solutions accelerated? What worked – and what didn’t?

Reworked post-pandemic possibilities

Minahan: Well, companies have been forced to do two things. Number one, they were forced to accelerate the digitization of their business. In financial services industries, for example, that meant increasing remote and digital financial advisory and trading services. For retail, it meant further accelerating the use of digital channels. And in healthcare, they found new ways to engage with patients and provide patient care.

But the second thing is it also caused both employers and employees to rethink work, to break down the old taboos that work can only happen while in the office. Employers have recognized the benefits that remote work plays -- not only in keeping their existing employees engaged, but in being able to reach new talent pools well beyond commuting distance to their work hubs or offices.

The pandemic caused both employers and employees to rethink work, to break down the old taboos that work can only happen in the office. Employers have recognized the benefits that remote work plays.

And employees have recognized that, “Hey, I can actually do creative and innovative work when not in the office. In fact, I may even be able to be more creative and innovative because I have uninterrupted time to focus on solving business problems and not having to deal with all the other headaches and distractions that come with long commutes and travel. I can now make better use of technology to foster more efficient work execution and collaboration wherever work needs to get done.”

Gardner: Tim, some people seem to think that the best-case scenario is that we get back to the way things were in 2019. Why is that not likely to happen when it comes to how we work?

Minahan: Because of the two dynamics that we just mentioned. One is we’ve broken down the taboos about where work happens, what constitutes work, and who does the work. Many employees have recognized they can be selective about the jobs they take and for which organizations.

Similarly, many companies are beginning to evolve to much more of a blend between full-time employees (FTEs) and contractors, especially for those hard-to-find skill sets that are required to digitize and modernize their businesses.

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Skills such as for artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, cloud, and security are often hard to find on a full-time employee basis. But when the contract between employers and employees shifts, and employees are looking to select those jobs that they want -- looking to hone their skills and be an independent -- that really opens up new opportunities both for employers and employees.

Gardner: Christian, if we’re entering into this bold new era of work and there’s no going back, why is the timing good from a technology standpoint? Why is technology in a better position than ever to support such a work-model-adaptation-shift?

Reilly: There’s just so much more choice. If we look around the technology sphere, there’s also more speed in how technology finds its way into organizations -- and that’s not always by IT, a lot comes in by demand from end users and employees.


Just step back and recall how quickly were we able to apply technology to what I lovingly call the world’s greatest semi-coordinated remote work experiment. I don’t use the word pandemic anymore. If you really think about it, every organization on the planet was challenged from day one of the lockdown to say, “Okay, well, the technology that we had and we then deployed really wasn’t intended to support this kind of remote work.”

That is the very work that Tim was talking about as being forced upon us. It wasn’t really by choice. It was a mandate due to the global lockdown. When you recall how quickly we were able to respond to that with a variety of different technologies, that proved that remote work really does work.

So, I think it’s a great time to be in tech. It’s a great time for organizations to step back and think about what has been achieved. Now, what else can we achieve, knowing that our traditional barriers -- and the Department of No that most IT organizations have been historically -- have been turned on their heads? The ways that these technologies have arrived has given us a huge opportunity to change the way that we think about supply and demand across every industry.

Gardner: if there is no such thing as the new normal, and we can just get rid of “normal,” what’s the new new, Christian?

New now is a great time for IT

Reilly: I call it the new now. If you go back just a few months, the world was slowly coming out of the pandemic and offices and countries were beginning to reopen. If you use the word normal in that context, I don’t think it treats us equally.

The pandemic affected everybody around the world differently. Referring to that as normal doesn’t reflect those differences. It doesn’t do enough to reflect the differences because normal doesn’t reflect what we’ve been through in the last couple of years.

But if we think about it as now, that puts us in a different mindset. Most companies that have been successful through the pandemic have had agility. They were able to shape-shift, to put their resources to work in different ways quickly to address different work challenges. If we suggest that that’s normal, it puts us in a box that might limit our thinking and creativity.

I like to think about things in a fluid way. We haven’t seen a strategy from a single company that’s going to be the blueprint for everybody going forward. So, treating every day as a new now leads us humans in organizations to be open to the things we do really well, which are creativity, innovation, and thinking outside the box.

We haven't seen a strategy from a single company that's going to be the blueprint for everybody going forward. Treating every day as the new now leads us humans in organizations to be open to the things we do really well, which are creativity, innovation, and thinking outside the box.

I prefer to think about it in terms of various phases of evolution post-pandemic, which has accelerated many things -- whether that be technology or business change, which is all very positive. 

I think normal is probably a little bit too harsh a word for what we’ve been through and what we can expect for the next few years.

Gardner: Christian, if technology is foundational to making this new era vibrant and innovative, has there ever been a better time to be in the IT business?

Reilly: From the changes we saw before the pandemic -- with organizations moving to cloud, changing their application portfolios, and in how work gets done -- there’s always been a technology underpinning of that. And if you’re in the technology industry, you have to be pretty happy with the opportunity for more change.

For many years, it was difficult for people in organizations to drive change and to challenge the status quo in organizations large and small. But as technologists, we always like to look out and try to invent the future. It was difficult to do that when the rest of the business was in catch-up mode or didn’t see the value of technology as an investment to drive the business, as opposed to being a necessary evil.

Now we’ve leveled the playing field, both in the choices we have in technology as well as in the time it takes to invent technology and the short time to get a return from that investment.

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It’s great, and we see examples in our customers around the world, of organizations that put technology strategies at the forefront of their business strategy. In my nearly 30 years in this industry, I can’t remember a time when it’s been more exciting to combine the technology with the business opportunity and to drive some really great outcomes going forward.

Gardner: Tim, for the business leaders out there who are also responding to this sea change, what does your research tell you? Are they as optimistic as the technologists are for 2022?

Leaders favor flexible work future

Minahan: Yes, business leaders are viewing this moment, and the investments they’ve made to support advanced digitization and engagement with their customers and in remote or hybrid work models, as a platform for driving new levels of innovation. 

In fact, Citrix recently conducted a research project in partnership with Coleman Parkes Research interviewing some 1,200 business leaders across the US and Europe. And on average, these leaders attribute almost half of their growth over the past year to new innovations, new products, new service lines, and new ways of working fueled by the adoption of new technologies and the work models we’ve been talking about here.

In fact, according to the study, investments in new technology and flexible work models over the past several years have fueled $678 billion in new revenues across these industries. Furthermore, 69 percent of those business leaders around the world say they’re going to increase investment in research and development (R&D) over the next 12 months to sustain this growth.

Because part of that growth had been constrained by our biases in thinking, as Christian just said, those longer journeys to the cloud are no more. Companies are accelerating digitization of their businesses -- including the shift to cloud. They now are taking a three-year cloud transformation project and doing it in three months because they need the agility. They see the benefits that are available to them.

The same thing goes for work models. Business leaders are removing the traditional taboos associated with working remotely and using that to rethink their entire work model. Where work gets done is certainly part of the dialogue we’re having in the market. Should employees go back to the office or work remotely continually?

But it’s more than that, it’s about how work gets done. Are we fostering these workers with a digital workspace environment that allows them to work anywhere and be as productive and as secure -- whether they’re in an office building or on the road?

And then there’s more innovation around who does the work. This is the most exciting part. Businesses are now able to access new talent pools and drive greater equitable and responsible hiring practices because they’re no longer constrained by where their office buildings are.

For example, the healthcare sector has been advancing not just telemedicine but new remote clinics that are closer to the patients. A great example is Mass General Brigham in your hometown there, Dana, in Boston. Just before the COVID crisis, they had transitioned to the cloud, which not only ensured that 70,000 physicians, clinicians, and administrators could work safely and remotely, it allowed them to be much more responsive to the needs that have arisen during the pandemic.

There's now more innovation around who does the work. This is the most exciting part. Businesses are able to access new talent pools and drive greater equitable and responsible hiring practices. They're no longer constrained by where their offices are.

For example, they opened up a remote clinic at the Boston Convention Center, literally in three days, per order of the governor. Because they were using the same technology platform, they were able to do that very, very quickly. It has also allowed them to increase their telemedicine visits by more than 27 times. And they don’t see that going fully back to the way it was before.

And, finally, using such a cloud platform delivers greater access to experts at colleges, for example, in Minnesota. They don’t necessarily need to live in the Boston area to be able to sustain this. That’s just one great example of an industry and a leader in that industry that’s not going back.

They’re using the investments they made in technology. And they’re using the investments they made in work models to fuel new ways of patient care and new innovations for their businesses.

Gardner: Christian, as we move past the previous work shackles using hybrid and remote models, how will recent technology trends – such as 5G connectivity, edge computing, AI, and parallel internets -- further enhance this process of reinventing work in 2022?

Hyperconnectivity everywhere

Reilly: To your point about networking, I think it’s the unsung hero of what we saw during the pandemic. With the number of people being asked to work remotely, locked out of their physical locations, the demands for bandwidth were essentially catered to around the world. That speaks a lot to the underpinning of the infrastructure.

And if you think about this world of hyperconnectivity, of always-on, and advancements in 5G technology, the speed and capacity that comes with that … It’s incredible. I don’t think we would have been able to do what we’ve done in the last two years with the constraints around the networking technologies from a decade ago.

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All sorts of different providers are now building their own undersea capacity across the world, just to carry the growing demand. You can assume in the next couple of years there’ll be no such thing as never connected. Whether you’re in an airplane, on a train, in your own car, or in a coffee shop -- or whatever -- the ubiquitous connectivity is going to power a lot of this next generation of the economy.

We tend to talk about what’s on top of the network, and obviously it is security, which is important. But performance, reliability, and availability will be there for the folks out there who want all the world’s applications and data served to them.

I made a comment a few months ago about the major cloud providers building parallel Internets. The traditional Internet consists of different carriers interconnected at various points around the world in Internet exchanges (IXes). There, the name of the game is exchanging data from a peering perspective, where there’s equity between the transactions.

And if you’re a commercial customer, you can buy bandwidth from there and act like a carrier. But if you really think about what goes on in the IXes, there’s a question about how we can fairly exchange data that means that nobody loses out from a cost perspective.

Now, think about what we’re seeing where the Googles, Microsofts, and the Amazons are all building these giant networks of their own so that they can essentially offer better reliability, performance, and availability -- loads of different points of presence around the world, some carried on subsea, some carried on terrestrial technologies. I think what we’re seeing there is a huge sea change in the way that we think about carriers.

If you want to be able to get your application served by the best network in the world, you may be looking at different providers, i.e., the big hyper-scalar cloud providers, than we saw a decade ago. There’s a significant element to that, which has an upstream effect on where organizations choose to place their cloud services and the data and applications, of course.

From a wireless perspective, we’ve been talking about ubiquitous connectivity for Internet of things (IoT) for many years and we’re seeing the evolution of that now with opportunities in edge computing. Lots of workloads will continue to be delivered by edge because that last mile connectivity that we used to struggle with will disappear with the continued rollout of 5G and the availability of that around the world.

What really excites me is what's happening in the developing nations. Doing net build-outs will give rise to real economic growth in areas of the world that were disadvantaged historically. I'm excited about  a level playing field across networking.

What really excites me is what happens in developing nations. In the Western world, we’ve been very fortunate to be on a journey from different types of networking. In some cases, they had to be built and rebuilt and built on top of existing physical infrastructure, such as cell towers, physical fiber, and so forth. For the opportunities of the developing world, they don’t come with that set of problems. Doing net new build-outs will give rise to real economic growth in areas of the world that were disadvantaged historically.

I’m really excited about a level playing field across networking that drives important economic effects and social interactions for countries that have not been able to participate in the global economy because they’ve been held back by their physical infrastructure. It’s super exciting. If you look five years from now, will we see the gross domestic products (GDPs) of countries differently by virtue of the fact that they’re hyper-connected and have much more opportunity than they’ve had historically. 

Gardner: Tim, the good news is the technology enables things that hadn’t been possible before. And, at the same time, we’ve gained a clean slate to reinvent work, having moved past former taboos.

But the bad news is this is uncharted territory, with a lot of options.

What challenges do businesses need to overcome to make the most of this unique -- unprecedented, you might say -- situation without becoming overwhelmed or paralyzed?

Hybrid hopes and fears

Minahan: It’s a very good point, Dana. There are some choppy waters that people need to navigate because these are uncharted areas, as you mentioned.

The biggest risk companies will grapple with in the coming year is around the concept of hybrid work. Finding the right fit for right role and the opportunity of hybrid work is a tremendous opportunity, as we mentioned. Employees are liberated to work wherever they can to do their best work. Employers can tap into new talent pools well beyond commuting distance to their physical office hubs.

But the challenge is to create an equitable work environment, regardless of where employees are located. Hybrid, by its very definition, means we’re going to have employees that are in the office collaborating and executing work together with employees who are not in the office.

And there’s a risk of creating a tiered level of the employee base, or levels of inequity in the employee base if you default back to an office-first culture. Many of our customers and Citrix itself – look and ask, “Okay, what does the environment need to look like to be conducive to capitalizing on the benefits of hybrid work?”

And, just as was done decades ago, we made big investments in physical office buildings and in creating collaboration spaces. Well, if work is now happening everywhere at the same time, and employees are distributed across physical and remote locations, that means we need to create a digital work environment, a digital workplace, that provides equitable access to the tools that all employees need to be productive: their applications, content, collaboration tools -- regardless of where they are.

To Christian’s point, they also need network reliability so that the applications are not only available but perform the way they should. They need the security capability so that the company has confidence that their information is secure, no matter where an employee is doing work -- whether in an office, on the road, or from home.

But that flexibility needs to be coupled with processes and cultural policy changes that foster an equitable work environment that isn’t office-first or remote-first culturally. It has to be a truly hybrid culture.

Finally, the physical workspaces need to adapt, too. They need to be purpose-built for their new uses. If the physical office becomes a place where we come together to collaborate, we need to retrofit rooms to facilitate inclusion of those working remotely.

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At Citrix, for example, we use the Microsoft Teams environment and are retrofitting our conference rooms with 360-degree cameras, and with cameras on the whiteboard, so that regardless of where an employee is, we are taking the equitable work policies that came with remote work and bringing them into a hybrid-work world.

So, everyone has similar access to information. Everyone has a similar opportunity to voice their opinions and creativity in meetings. These are the types of things that folks are going to need to navigate through in the months ahead if they’re going to capitalize on the benefits of what hybrid work can deliver.

Gardner: If we are to use hybrid work as the starting point, and we don’t know where we’re going to end up, do we have any existing examples to learn from? I’m thinking about the gig economy and gig workers.

Tim, is the gig economy a bellwether for what we should expect of hybrid work models? Or can we learn from that to do even better?

Beyond the office with benefits

Minahan: When the gig economy emerged, we were still in very much of a mindset of a work environment that hadn’t changed much since Henry Ford. It was an extension of the Industrial Revolution, where everyone came together in a manufacturing facility. When we went to knowledge workers, we just adopted that work structure and said, “Well, everyone, of course, should come together in an office environment.”

What the opportunity affords us now -- by removing the taboos, having the technological infrastructure to support equitable work across all environments and domains -- is the opportunity to go to a new class of, if you will, gig with benefits that provides flexibility and autonomy to freelancers.

They gain an economy that the contracting gig workers crave along with the stability that’s become increasingly attractive as the pandemic wears on by being associated with a given employer, with appropriate benefits, and everything that comes with being a full-time employee.

And so, I think we’re seeing literally people redrafting the social contract between employers and employees for the first time in decades.

Gardner: One of the nice things technologically, as we go about this redefinition of work, is we have at our disposal analytics tools at scale and at costs that are very attractive.

How do we use that to understand the best models of the future of work without it just being trial and error? How do we apply the best of what analytics and automation can bring so that we can get to that right definition for the right company at the right time?

What else can technology do for us in the next few years when it comes to helping us through such an experimental process?

Minahan: Yes, over the past several years, we’ve seen the introduction of machine learning (ML) and analytics into the workplace, along with automation. And those have fundamentally changed the way we work. 

Number one, they help clear a lot of the noise from an employee’s day and guide them to the next task, or the next insight, that’s valuable to move them along in the process. But number two, it’s elevated the skill set of the employee and the performance of every employee so that they’re performing at their best.

That’s true whether they’re six months on the job or an employee of the month consistently for the past six years. Technology can guide any employee to deliver the best customer service and to attain the best answer to execute processes even faster.

An example that highlights that necessity is the mother of innovation is City National Bank of Florida. They adopted our digital workspace technologies not only to ensure that they could remotely deliver the applications and tools that employees need in a very secure environment, but also to utilize the ML, automation, and enhanced workflow capabilities to improve the steps needed for their mortgage loan review process.

As a result, they knitted together some of the key tasks and insights across multiple systems – customer relationship management (CRM) systems, mortgage and loan systems, and approval systems. They gained an ability to guide employees to the next step in the process, and by pulling information from other databases. They were able to process six years of loans in six months during the pandemic.

That’s just one example of how bringing together ML with automation is fundamentally creating a new level of skills, particularly at a time when we have a global talent shortage for certain skills. This technology helps fill the skills gap that many companies are suffering right now.

Gardner: Christian, what’s your take? How will ML and the analytics capabilities we have, along with automation, help us attain a new, better place when it comes to work, work processes, and the redefinition of work?

Reilly: The skills gap is kind of a paradox. We talk about the skills gap and how we’re going to address that with technology, whether it’s software, robots, or an automated workforce. And yet, the other side of the coin to be concerned with is how much of this technology comes in and replaces physical workers. 

To go back to Tim’s Henry Ford example of many years ago, there was an argument then about automation in the automotive manufacturing industry replacing the physical work force. And that’s something we’ve discussed and politicized for many years.

Democratized tech increases jobs

The real question to me is, how many more jobs does technology create? That’s the bit that we don’t talk about, and I don’t think we have a good opinion on. From a pure technology perspective, the most fascinating element comes as a category of democratization.

And, if you go back far enough, there are many examples. When Microsoft Office first found its way into organizations it democratized word processing and letter creation to the detriment of the classic typing pool.

If you follow that path of democratization, what we’re seeing now through the evolution is citizen developers using low-code and no-code platforms. It’s the exact thing that Tim was talking about in terms of bringing the technology to augment the workforce. We’re very rapidly seeing that in the worlds of low-code, no-code, of citizen development, and also of ML in general. It’s a democratization trend, of literally being able to take off-the-shelf components, products, and services and apply them in a new business context.

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The key is better enabling the line of business people who deeply understand what the data needs to do for them. They understand the business process inside out, they understand the workflows inside out, and they’re far better placed to deal with that than traditional IT and developers.

So, the speed at which technologies are becoming democratized is essential. For a few cents an hour, you can have ML services running in a public cloud. And then those very same ML services can find their way into client-side applications.

It becomes obvious very quickly what the impact will be. Just as we’ve seen with changing work demographics when we have the younger generation come in as business analysts, but able to write algorithms in Python. We’re going to continue to see that. And we’ll see much smarter applications being put to work for those workers, too.

The challenge is it potentially creates more data silos because we’re writing point solutions, like cloud and applications sprawl. We’re likely to see more of that as organizations empower individuals to be productive by bringing in their own technology to work and using off-the-shelf components to enhance personal applications.

A few years ago, we began talking about bring your own device, and bring your own identity. I don’t think it’ll be very long before we talk about bring your own applications and that will be largely due to the democratization of technologies and the power of these new generations of applications and insights.

Gardner: Christian, is it too soon to be thinking about a third-party reality that can enhance work? We’re hearing about the metaverse, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). Where do you see the opportunity for using these concepts to solve some of the reinventing of work challenges?

From Ford to VR, we still work together

Reilly: I’ll use Tim’s phrase again about necessity being the mother of innovation, and, in some cases, the mother of invention. Over the past few years, we’ve seen steady technological growth in VR, AR, and MR. And, yet we’ve never really seen a killer application.

There are plenty of examples of customers and companies using those technologies to solve certain things. But we’ve never seen mass adoption. As humans, we’re fascinated by futuristic things such as The Jetsons, time travel, and teleportation. We’ve seen it in science fiction movies forever.

But if you start to think about things that are part of the metaverse, whether it’s digital twins or photorealistic immersive worlds, it’s pretty easy to let your imagination go and understand how some of what we’ve found difficult to replace during the pandemic, which is human interaction, can be done.

How do I feel in just two dimensions looking through a laptop screen with a number of other people on a video call? I think there’s a lot more to it than that. If we could figure out how to transcend the physical boundaries using a virtual world -- and I’m not talking Second Life here -- I’m talking about much more.

It’s where the office is not a building per se. It’s much more of a virtual construct that has all the things that I need to get work done, whether that’s signing contracts using distributed ledger or collaborating in more of a physical way with a representation of myself in the metaverse.

We may look at that as science fiction, and yet, if you look in the consumer world to where the younger generation is, there are plenty of examples of children using technologies such as Minecraft and Roblox that are their own virtual worlds where they learn to collaborate, learn to play by the rules of that particular game, and they learn how to immerse themselves in that to collaborate and to do tasks.

I don’t think this is a million miles from the reality of where we may end up in terms of the hybrid work that Tim talked about. We’re trying very hard to replace physical interactions that aren’t always possible on different sides of the world. I think there’s a huge opportunity for us to think about the metaverse as much more of a business-enabler underpinned by lots of different technologies. Maybe we can bring more personal interactions with it as we establish this new now going forward.

Gardner: Tim, how does the current generation of digital workspaces and the progeny of those workspaces start in 2022 to get to the vision of metaverse as business-enabler that Christian just painted?

Minahan: It goes without saying that the only constant we’re going to have in this world of hybrid work is the digital workspace within which we access the work resources, our content, and the insights we need to make decisions. And it’s how we engage and collaborate with our peers, both within our company and outside of it.

We’ve been talking about digital workspaces for quite some time, along with the need to ensure we reliably and securely deliver the work resources that employees need to get their best work done wherever that needs to happen.

The pandemic has rapidly accelerated digital transformation and opened people's eyes to new ways of working. A lot of these new AI and automation agents are being incorporated into the workspaces to ensure that everyone can perform at their best and not be distracted from even greater creativity and innovation.

The pandemic, if there’s one small silver lining to it, has rapidly accelerated digital transformation and opened people’s eyes to new ways of working. As we look at the digital workspace technologies that underpin them, you’re going to see not just ensuring reliable high-performance access and secure access to the work resources you need, but a lot of these new kinds of AI and automation agents are being incorporated within the workspace, which will ensure that everyone can indeed perform at their best and not just be distracted by the technologies but can harness them to drive greater creativity and innovation.

I’ll just close off where we started. The crisis-driven adaptation has not just transformed organizations, but it’s altered the mindset of both the employer and the employee. I’m particularly positive and optimistic about what the future holds over the coming year -- and the next few years ahead.

We’re reaching a new plateau as these items are all converging at once. The technology is there and available, and the taboos that have hindered our ability to adopt that technology have been torn away. There is a new mindset both in the mind of employees and employers that is going to set us on a course to engage through new digital means and to work in new and more hybrid ways.

Gardner: Tim, Citrix has done an awful lot of research and is helping organizations better understand this progression. Where can people go to learn more? How is Citrix making some of that information available?

Minahan: You can always go to We also have a thought leadership platform called Fieldwork in which we not only promote and make available all the research studies and benchmarks that I mentioned, but also use it as an open platform for dialogue among leaders in businesses as well as the IT organizations.

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on how 2022 will shape up as we extrapolate on the trends around shifting work models that are taking us to the new level.

And we’ve learned how speed will only increase in how digital technologies enhance and disrupt the means through which we all collaborate and operate in our jobs and lives.

Please join me in thanking our guests. We’ve been here with Christian Reilly, Vice President and Head of Technology Strategy Organization at Citrix. Thank you so much, Christian.

Reilly: Thank you, Dana. It’s been a pleasure.

Gardner: And we’ve also been here with Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix. Thank you, sir.

Minahan: Thanks, Dana. I appreciate the dialogue.

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect Future of Work Innovation discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of Citrix-sponsored interviews.

Thanks again for listening. Please pass this along to your community, and do come back next time. 

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Transcript of a discussion on how technology will improve the ways businesses operate and enable employees to remain productive and content in the coming year. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2021. All rights reserved.

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