Michael Dell: Work From Home Will Be 'Permanent Feature'

‘I think if you were skeptical about work from home, you probably aren’t now. And I think we’ve all learned a lot in the last few months here,’ Michael Dell told Presidio Chairman and CEO Bob Cagnazzi.


Michael Dell said customers have shifted from rapidly implementing work-at-home setups to ensuring they’re sufficiently hardened and secure for long-term use.

“If it’s going to be a more permanent feature of the workplace, and I’m starting to come to the view that it is, then I might need something different,” said Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies. “If I’m going to work from home for an extended period of time, or it’s going to be a more permanent part of how we work, then we’ll need to do something different.”

Dell began permitting remote work a decade ago, and roughly 25 percent of the company’s employees were working from home prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Dell told Presidio Chairman and CEO Bob Cagnazzi during a webinar hosted by Presidio Tuesday. Dell “guaranteed” Cagnazzi that a larger chunk of the company’s employee base will continue to work from home after the COVID-19 outbreak subsides.

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Cagnazzi said the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the New York-based company, No. 23 on the 2019 CRN Solution Provider 500, to evaluate its real estate strategy given the “tremendous success” the company has enjoyed with employees working from home. Specifically, Cagnazzi said Presidio is evaluating what functions are critical to have in an office and what tasks can be done remotely.

Dell said a spillover benefit in the rapid shift to working from home has been a pretty significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since most of those emissions come from cars. Dell considers that to be “a big silver lining.”

“I think if you were skeptical about work from home, you probably aren’t now,” Dell said. “And I think we’ve all learned a lot in the last few months here. I think that will flow through and create opportunities.”

Organizations should carefully examine which positions were more productive and which positions were less productive when everyone was working from home, Dell said. He acknowledged there might be some “noise in the data” since the closing of recreational activities like restaurants, movie theaters and golf courses could have resulted in employees working more.

In the initial push to work from home, Dell said there was an intense need to act quickly. But now, Dell said businesses have become more focused on doing things the right way and ensuring that their employees’ work from home offices are set up properly.

Cagnazzi said he saw a nearly identical arc of client requirements at Presidio, with an initial rush to enable employees to quickly work from home following by a hardening of those environments to ensure that they can persist as a regular part of the business.

The education, health and retail verticals have all been significantly impacted by the push to work from home, Dell said, while the commercial real estate sector is suffering from a lack of demand. Many companies had outright bans on working from home as recently as a few years ago or were reluctant to embrace remote work, Dell said, but are now starting to come around.

“Technology is more important now than it’s ever been,” Dell said. “It’s kind of amazing how quickly the world is adapting.”