If you were asked to sum up everything the workplace has faced over the past few years, what words would come to your mind? Personally, I’d say “recalibration” sums up mass shifting techniques. Companies are being forced into hybrid and remote working — as they expand during the global pandemic and start cutting staffing and operating costs through 2023.
From startups to long-standing industry giants, leaders have been rebooting everything from team structures and day-to-day approaches to overall corporate strategy and go-to-market resourcing. Amid these dramatic changes, leaders around the world are challenged to navigate their teams through uncertain waters to deliver positive business outcomes without a modern compass to guide them.
Of particular concern are legacy organizations pursuing new directions and shifting their resources up and down inspired by the societal impact of the pandemic. One of the earliest technology companies in the United States, Hewlett-Packard Company. (HPQ), which has undergone multiple relaunches and provides a new example of a pioneering organization that is developing a roadmap through hybrid work transformation. There is no shortage of aggressive competitors, such as Apple. (APPL) and Dell Technologies. (DELL), like many others, is aligning its internal processes, its technology portfolio and new ventures with the goal of shaping the reality of the new hybrid world.
Stephanie Dismore, managing director, HP North America, has seen the organization adapt to numerous challenges and opportunities over the past 20 years. However, she recently discussed how the hybrid revolution is opening unprecedented opportunities for her team and others. In her view, HP’s subsequent response has been to double down on its core categories — including hybrid work solutions, gaming, peripherals, services and more — that have grown in popularity and necessity in the 2020s. increase. HP’s continued response offers leaders of companies large and small some insightful ways to navigate the pandemic-induced restart.
Invest in talent to unlock hybrid innovation
With enabling the best hybrid experience quickly becoming a top priority for HP, the company realized it first needed to look inside and set new standards for workplace management to cement itself as an industry leader in this transformation.
Dismore firmly believes people In these unprecedented times of uncertainty, it must be the number one focus. Therefore, HP has always been committed to providing a culture suitable for employees to thrive. “What we’ve learned is that the most important thing our team wants is flexibility and how we can enable it, so we’re a company where people want to work, we make environments that bring out the best work, “she says.
This is a timely area for most organizations to focus on, as Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trends Index reports that the average Teams user has seen a 252% increase in weekly time spent in meetings since 2020. 252% – ugh. To ease the stress, HP has introduced new initiatives, including a mix of work allowances, health perks and “get away from the hustle and bustle” days to ease the frenzy of meetings. “We want to build this idea of trust and accountability for everyone,” Dismore said of the benefits.
Emphasizing that trust is critical, because through her personal journey and experience with her employees in global hybrid work environments, Dismore has discovered that employees not only want, but need the flexibility and autonomy to manage their own schedules in order to Achieve work-life balance with new and expanded editions. Let’s be honest – shouldn’t we call it something more appropriate now? It is one of the most important factors in recruiting, retaining and attracting talent today. According to research by Fortune and Great Places to Work, only half of U.S. workers believe their employer encourages work/life balance — down from 86% of employees on the 2022 100 Best Companies to Work For list. It’s clear that balanced priorities are no longer “nice to have” but necessary to create an optimal work environment.
In parallel with these efforts, HP is also focused on expanding professional development opportunities. “We are focused on training our people and really have a talent school philosophy where we always provide opportunities for growth. Whether it’s training, skill sets, promotions or rotations. If that’s your base layer, then we’re in Innovation,” Dismore told me.
HP isn’t alone in making these investments, at the Kellogg School of Management, where I teach, train and mentor executives, we’re seeing unprecedented demand from Global 1,000 companies for our executive education programs. It’s important to remember that even in an unsettling economic downturn, as organizations cut back on spending and focus on digital transformation, headcount reductions, and cost optimization—they must double down and invest heavily in next-generation talent. Tom O’Toole, associate dean for executive education at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said, “Businesses are investing in their organizational and individual learning programs like never before. The pace of change and new developments facing businesses today, such as artificial intelligence and digital Transformation requires continuous learning in even the most advanced organizations and executives. And, many are doing it for the first time.”
Build, buy and borrow innovations
Investing in innovation is why HP remains a leader after more than 80 years. As Dismore describes it: “We’re very excited about how we can continue to create products and solutions that help people create, help people produce, and help people’s work and personal lives seamlessly integrate with the use of technology.”
After seeing how effectively hybrid and virtual meetings require attendees to be able to hear and be heard, and see and be seen clearly, whether they are in the room or not, the company decided to invest in providing the right peripherals. According to HP proprietary research collected in 2021, 75% of people judge others based on audio quality, and 63% believe that clear audio is more important now than ever. If you’ve ever been disadvantaged in a Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams meeting, you understand.
In this new chapter, the company looks externally to innovate and expand its toolbox and capabilities to meet these new demands.One of my Kellogg executive education courses explored how to scale global growth and innovation through build, buy, or borrow strategies—later through an dance with start-ups. HP has gone to school and really stepped up its game in these growth categories. Their recent acquisition of Poly is a strong indication of the company’s commitment to doubling down on effective hybrid work.
“Poly brings an incredibly strong talent pool, differentiated technology and complementary go-to-market systems that we believe will further strengthen our position in a large and growing market. As we continue to build an even stronger HP, Together we will have a strong opportunity to innovate and grow the business for our customers,” said HP CEO Enrique Lores.
The newly combined organization will pave the way for HP to create the hybrid work experience of the future, while additional acquisitions such as Bromium (2019), HyperX (2021) and Teradici (2021) are expanding HP into new domain to customers and partners. Additionally, HP’s new Workforce Services and Solutions organization will drive more integration across the business services, software and security portfolios. Look for more build/buy/borrow innovations from HP as they enhance their assets and offerings in these and other increasingly competitive commercial and consumer markets such as Zoom Rooms.
CEOs who reboot their organizations now – planning to invest in key growth areas while transforming underlying cost and go-to-market structures – will be best positioned for the 2025-2030 growth cycle. Loures understands this, and his Future-Ready Transformation Program is a smart step in that direction.
Restart Collaborative Innovation
At the same time, countless companies continue to navigate the complexities of how employees interact and engage on a day-to-day basis without the majority of organizations actually returning to the office. What is often missing, beyond the mothership of talent, is the expansion of these collaborative networks to better engage customers, partners, and other core ecosystem players at all levels.
The initial technology investments that workplaces frantically make to kick-start hybrid processes are just the beginning. I believe this restart cycle will last for years, and technology companies need to constantly evaluate how their products, solutions, and new ventures evolve to enhance global collaboration and create value for enterprise customers.
As with most new growth categories, business leaders may want to take inspiration from startups and entrepreneurs who are inventing tools to create, communicate and collaborate.programs like this dance with start-ups is a good place to start. These co-creation partnerships bring together thousands of emerging growth companies with some of the world’s largest companies, such as HP, Whirlpool, Exelon and Logitech, to deliver next-generation products, services and venture capital.
As HP demonstrates, much of the inspiration for technology innovation and business expansion will come from the everyday realities of supporting hybrid workforces and partner networks. It is critical that those of us in corporate governance and leadership positions take heed and continue to adapt accordingly, collaborating beyond usual disbelief, both inside and outside their parent companies, as we build the future together.