Environmental, Social & Governance3 min read

Seeing 20/20 in 2021: Envisioning the Future of Work

Rich Lang

This past March, the world turned upside down and challenged everyone in ways we could not have anticipated.

In the span of a weekend, our organization of more than 33,000 employees turned their bedrooms, dining rooms and hallways into home offices, outfitted with the latest technology and tools to remain productive and connected with colleagues, customers and partners. The experience was trying and challenging but reinforced our resiliency and empathy as we were introduced to our colleagues’ children, partners, pets and interior decorating preferences.

At VMware, we have listened, learned, adapted and adjusted. In the past nine months, our employees achieved exceptional results, despite difficult circumstances. They maintained continuity for our company and our customers, all while navigating and balancing painful personal, social and community disruption.

Last week, VMware laid out our trust, equity and sustainability commitments for the next 10 years in our 2030 Agenda. Fulfilling the business outcomes we outlined—building and protecting trust, creating a future that is accessible, equitable and inclusive, and decarbonization efforts for our customers and our operations—requires a new definition of work. Today, we are sharing our strategy for our Future of Work initiative, a forward-looking hybrid workforce model that rethinks our traditional office environment and way of working, in addition to driving progress on the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

While planning for the initiative was well underway before the emergence of COVID-19, the pandemic accelerated our efforts. As our employees demonstrated throughout the pandemic, work location does not dictate success. The choice and flexibility that form the cornerstones of this new distributed workforce model mirror the choice and flexibility we provide to our customers. We are empowering our team to choose to work permanently remote, “flexible” or near a VMware office, or from a VMware office full-time. Employees can work from any location that accelerates their productivity and advances their personal and professional goals during and after the pandemic.

In addition to aligning to the bold outcomes in the 2030 Agenda, the Future of Work initiative brings together a set of policies, programs and adaptive culture to provide support for more than 33,000 personal” innovation hubs around the world, highlighting VMware’s vision of the Anywhere Workforce. It extends our EPIC2 values and advances our commitment to building a more diverse workforce, reducing our carbon footprint and putting employee well-being first.

Sprawling office campuses with a range of amenities and perks were once meant to attract top talent, but limited our ability to reach and meet prospective employees located beyond our office locations. COVID brought a fresh perspective around traditional concepts of work and the purpose of the office, while expanding mindsets on employee productivity, which improved in a remote environment. We discovered that a majority of people prefer to do focused work at home or outside of the office, while campus offices are better suited to collaboration and community. With that in mind, VMware’s Future of Work program is grounded in three primary pillars and advances our commitment to the goals in the 2030 Agenda, as well as employees’ career development and the company culture and values. These pillars

1. Workforce: We are focused on building a diverse, innovative and highly engaged distributed team that has access to the resources and support they need to be productive in whichever work environment they choose. This includes expanded benefits and well-being programs and reimbursements for home office equipment.  

2. Workplace: Innovation and collaboration hubs are the office of the future. VMware campuses across the globe are being converted to accommodate the way people work today. Removing the need to commute to an office and reducing carbon emissions in our day-to-day operations has significant impact on our sustainability commitments. This means moving from spaces that prioritize individual work to environments that foster teamwork, innovation and experiences. Already, 25% of our global offices are set up with a collaboration-first approach.

3. Work Practices: Supporting our teams with distributed-first capabilities will increase well-being and productivity without requiring relocation or travel.  We are leveling the playing field and ensuring equity and inclusion of all employees by providing every employee equal access to support systems, regardless of where they may choose to work.

As we look to the future, we’ll continue to experiment, assess and adapt. We believe emerging technologies, like augmented reality and virtual reality, will play a key role in bridging distances and shaping a more dynamic and creative workforce. Our human resources, workplace and IT teams will continue to partner with business groups to refine and iterate our program as we evolve into a distributed-first workforce that sit alongside our global portfolio of office collaboration hubs.

There’s no disguising the fact that this past year presented incredible challenges for employees, leaders, companies and communities alike. But the shift to remote work gave us an opportunity to accelerate our momentum with initiatives like these. The Future of Work is here. And at VMware, we are focused on achieving the trust, equity and sustainability outcomes in the 2030 Agenda by reimagining and extending a culture rooted in innovation, flexibility and choice. Accessibility to a broader talent pool and flexible work will shape a more diverse VMware and help achieve net-zero carbon emissions for operations. Every organization, every institution and each of us as individuals needs to do our part. Each of us needs to ask ourselves: How can we contribute? How can our employers contribute?