Leadership Thoughts With Mike Sharun

Small Business Canada

Mike Sharun is President and General Manager at Dell Technologies Canada, leading the Canadian organization serving customers across the country. In this role, he leads the Dell team delivering innovative and practical technology solutions to customers. He is responsible for strategy, driving growth and market leadership by delivering and supporting products, services and solutions to organizations in established and new markets throughout Canada

Previously, Sharun served as Country Manager, Canada for EMC Corporation, appointed to this role in January 2007 after overseeing Sales for Western Canada.  In this role, he focused on expanding EMC’s presence throughout Canada driving coordination and teamwork among EMC’s business unit sales forces, as well as building and maintaining relationships with EMC’s largest global accounts, global alliance partners, and global channel partners. 

Sharun began his career in 1980 and in addition to Dell Technologies also worked at Oracle and SAP.

1. How can businesses smooth the transition of reopening their business in the coming weeks or months?  

The global pandemic has introduced challenges that many businesses, industries, and people were not prepared for. Having to quickly adapt has triggered an accelerated adoption of new resources, technology, and methods for working remotely. And even though we’re not out of the storm yet, the past 12 weeks of shutdowns have allowed businesses to adapt and now start to rethink what the future of work will look like for all stakeholders, post-pandemic. 

For more than a decade, Dell Technologies has built a culture around the idea that work is outcomes-based, not anchored to a specific place or time. While every industry and business is different, the majority of our team members will continue working from home where possible. Like all businesses, health and safety come first along with meeting the needs of our team members, our customers, and the broader community.

As part of businesses beginning to reopen, this pandemic has proven that remote work can be successful, and this will play a major part of a business’s ability to transition. If an organization is going to allow for workforce flexibility, they need to build a culture that embraces it to ensure their team is able to give their best, both personally and professionally. The key is to start with a strategy rooted in technology.

By leveraging technology, businesses can create stronger customer and team member experiences. This can be done by assessing your current technology footprint to see if it is helping or hindering employee work. Make sure the technology you provide meets the needs of your employees and considers the needs of a modern workplace – where work is not a place, but an activity. Provide the right technology – devices, peripherals, applications, security, connectivity – to enable your workers to collaborate regardless of where they are. And most of all, provide clarity and set the right expectations. 

IT consumption is likely to increase during this transition. Avoid fatigue by prioritizing a work-from-home footprint where there are flexibility and choice for team members. Deliver quicker, more efficient services using automation and self-service to provide a faster way for employees to consume IT. For example, modernize how you deliver hardware to your end-users – maybe through self-service or even factory direct delivery with the apps and settings pre-installed. 

Businesses need to provide the technology that their workers require that enables them to work flexibly. Most knowledge workers have powerful tools, data, and applications, on their personal devices and expect the same kind of experience from their work environment, now more than ever.

2. What are the differences between business operations pre and post-COVID and what is your advice to small businesses adapting to the new normal?

Similar to other surveys, Dell Technologies recently conducted a global study to determine how businesses are adapting in response to COVID-19, revealing that approximately 20 percent of respondents made up of small and medium-sized businesses were operating remotely prior to the pandemic. This compared to the now 40 percent that say they expect their workforce to shift to a more robust work-from-home environment in the future reveals a shift in the business landscape, to which we are considering the new normal.

According to the research, this shift to remote work will vary across industries with the largest surges expected in education (up to 25 percent), banking and finance (up to 40 percent), professional services (up to 60  percent), healthcare (up to 30 percent) and government (up to 30 percent). 

Advice for small businesses navigating this new normal is rooted in these three principles: 

  • Partner across the organization when defining policies. People are the lifeblood of an organization and how you approach workforce flexibility needs to be rooted in the business and operational strategy of your organization. You must ensure the protocols, policies, processes, and infrastructure exist for teams to have the tools they need to get their job done.
  • Prepare leaders and listen to employees. Help your leaders be better equipped with information and coaching to support their teams and help them feel more connected. Listen to your employees – what’s working for them and what needs to be adjusted to enable them to be more productive or supported out of the office.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. This includes guidance on setting up a home office, VPN, connectivity tools, platforms, and equipment. Consider offering courses for organizing your remote workspace, building relationships virtually and communicating remotely. Simple things like virtual coffee chats or open office hours are also good ways to build relationships outside of projects and outside of the traditional office “water cooler.
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