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How Leaders at Dell & Microsoft Envision the Future of Work for Developers

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Today, technology is transforming our world of work. From embracing remote work to attracting and engaging top talent, companies have had to learn how to adapt and reach their objectives all from the comforts of home.   

In an effort to understand how big brands are navigating this new remote world, our own APAC Marketing Director, Aadil Bandukwala, spoke with a panel of tech and talent leaders to discuss the future of work for developers. 

Our panel included: 

You can either watch the full interview on Youtube or continue reading for highlights. 

With increasing demands of transparency and calls for increased diversity and inclusion, COVID-19 soon stepped in to accommodate the rapidly changing world of work. What does this mean for our future work lives?

Sheenam Ohrie: 

First of all, the expectancy of our life has actually increased drastically. We are talking about people who have just joined the workforce to be living until the age of about 100 and even 104 in Japan. With that said, the entire structure of retiring at 58 in India and 65 in the US has to change. 

So the question becomes: how do you employ people who still want to work but retired at senior positions and don’t want to perform such high-profile and high-stress jobs?

I read something a while back which stated: By 2030, there will be a lot of people who become their own company—like single people companies. So how do you actually create structures and platforms that can crowdsource talent?

I think it is now left to organizations to figure out how we employ different types of talent. This could include talent that has left the workforce wants to come back, talent that is available anywhere around the world, or talent that doesn’t want to be a part of your company, but is willing to contribute to a particular program or a project, and wants to work at their own will.

Given that there was such a rapid change in work we adopted in such a quick time, what does the future really hold for employees?

Matthew Hardman: 

The transition we made in work-life balance is under threat. Now that everyone is working from home, that very distinct time separation between home and work is gone. I think we need to start owning our own work-life balance. We need to very clearly take action to ensure that we don’t have this world of work, which is conducive to burnout.

Organizations have to take the lead for people. You need to put that structure in place and say, “this day is a no meeting day. This is a day that you need to go ahead and give you some semblance of downtime from a work point of view.” 

From an HR perspective, what is the one cultural shift companies need to make to be successful in this totally remote environment?

Preeti Negi: 

There are many things that companies are trying to do today to ease the remote, always-on lifestyle. For example,  HackerRank established no-meeting Fridays company-wide. I think there are some cultural changes that organizations need to bring in as well.

I think at the core of it, two things will become critical for all organizations to do culturally: and that is establishing trust and empathy. 

We have all spoken about work-life balance up until now, but now is the time for work-life integration. Between homeschooling our children, managing our home, and attending meetings late at night, organizations need to empower employees to manage their own work schedule.

In a way, COVID has acted as an equalizer in the sense that organizations are now willing to hire people remotely. What should developers do to stand out in a pool of talent that reaches across the world? 

Matthew Hardman:  

You have to be prepared to market yourself. We are in an environment where resumes do not cut it anymore. Sometimes even the LinkedIn profile itself does not cut it anymore. I look at probably 30 to 40 LinkedIn profiles every single week and the ones that stand out for me are the people who are putting themselves out there and sharing what they do.

One profile that stood out for me was somebody who had actually invested their time to create a YouTube series on how to use Power BI in a more optimal way. This was someone who said, “I have these skills, I want to share them with other people and actually share what can be done.” That made that person infinitely more attractive in terms of hiring potential because it was not just a skillset. It was the capabilities and enthusiasm that stood out to me. 

When it comes to hiring developers, which is more valued in the coming days? Is it being a full stack developer, or being versatile, multiple programming languages? 

Sheenam Ohrie: 

First of all, anybody can learn a programming language. Learning a programming language is the easiest thing for a developer. I started my career with a line interpreter called business basic. Learning languages, in my opinion, is the simplest thing you can do.

Being a full-stack developer today is extremely important. Ensuring that you have cross-functional development skills is truly critical for any organization. But I would think about this: how do you incorporate a little bit more about becoming a techno-domain person? Because that is where the entire aspect of empathy comes into play.

Technology is only an enabler. Understanding the business, becoming a partner with your business stakeholders, becoming a partner with your customers, and really applying principles of design thinking to how you develop your solutions is, in my opinion, going to lead you to the future. 

Digital solutions today are truly transforming lives. How can societies, cities, nations continue to build strong tech ecosystems as we all walk into this unclear future? 

Sheenam Ohrie:  

I think there’s a balance between investing in the right technology and building it. Most developers think about technology as the mainframe. I believe they need to invest a lot into architecture and seeing how to build platforms and frameworks that can scale and transform themselves very easily. That is something I would encourage developers to start thinking about.

Even if you don’t want to be an architect, how do you take yourself to a full-stack developer, where you are now thinking about building stuff that is future-oriented? Examples include building stuff that can scale, building stuff that will have performance, building stuff that is secure. You start to think about all of those things when you are more technology-oriented.

Data democratization is something that we have invested heavily in at Dell. But with moving into leading Dell.com support for the organization, I have to think about what customers really want 5 years from now. And how do you build from it? 

Once you start thinking about it from that perspective, you start to build things that customers want and convert those wants into business outcomes. It changes the language for the developers. Now the developers are not just developing a requirement, they’re actually delivering a business outcome. You start to think like the persona of your users. And if you have three different personas, then you wear those hats and you build that into your development culture. That is where the cross-functional aspect of development really starts to deliver the benefits. 

Want to learn more about the developer landscape in 2020? Download our Developer Skills Report below. 

2020 Developer Skills Report Download CTA

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