Virtual - our new reality
Virtual - our new reality

LAST YEAR — bushfires, a health pandemic and the underlying need to support our economy created a perfect storm of circumstances that would forever change where, how and when we work.

Conversations have shifted from ‘how do we keep things going’ to discussions around efficiency, creativity, productivity, wellbeing and maintaining culture and connection. The reality is that we are only at the beginning of this journey.

The workplace in 2019 was a pretty different place. In 2019, a year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australian shores, Deloitte Australia launched a Virtual Office initiative. The purpose was to bring together the best of our people, places and technology to create the Virtual Office ecosystem to enable our people and our clients to make an impact that matters anywhere, in any way, at any time.

55% of Deloitte staff in 2019 indicated they did not have the tools to effectively work remotely

90% of Deloitte staff by mid-2020 felt they were equipped to work succesfully from home

Uncovering the needs of our people

In 2019, we began to think about the Virtual Office ecosystem by putting our people first and ensuring they had the right tools and technology to be effective when working remotely. To understand the pains and gains in this virtual context, we listened to the voice of our people.

Most of our people were not ready to work virtually, with 98% surveyed saying they had not been provided training sessions to work remotely. Additionally, over half of our people surveyed thought they lacked equipment required to be effective when working virtually.

To better support our people, we engaged almost 200 Deloitte employees using a Human-Centred Design framework. We ran surveys, focus groups and interviews to hear people’s needs, wants, desires and feelings toward virtual working.

Through this, we identified six key personas (see above) relating to remote and virtual work. These personas were used to inform key technology decisions, training pathways as well as meaningful content for our Virtual Office Hub that would be accessed by our people.

Preparation pays off in a pandemic

Acting on our research, the Virtual Office team trained almost 5000 employees on virtual ways of working. When the pandemic hit Australian shores in early 2020, Deloitte had already spent the previous year researching virtual office capabilities and testing a virtual technology portfolio. We had a strong foundation to pivot into running virtually.

Embracing virtual collaboration and digital tools, we saw most of our people and clients seamlessly transition between physical and virtual ways of working. By mid-2020, over 90% of Deloitte staff indicated they felt equipped to work remotely.

The question of how this is sustained in the longer term remains a key challenge for us and for our clients

Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson
Lead Partner

The future of hybrid work

With 2021 upon us and the workplace changed forever, we will continue to listen to our people and how they manage virtual working. We will generate meaningful solutions that enable them to deliver their best self and best work in the ‘new normal’ of virtual working.

“It is clear that the future brings more flexibility with regards to where and how to work. However, the question of how this is sustained in the longer term remains a key challenge for us and for our clients. Full-time return to the office, I believe, will be therefore a choice,” says Robbie Robertson, Virtual Office Managing Partner.

The workplace of today, is radically different to the workplace of even last year. And what we must put our trust in, is that we will continue to innovate new ways, collectively, to turn the workplace of today, into the workplace of the future.

Making virtual our new reality
Making virtual our new reality

Deloitte’s Virtual Office persona types

Road Warriors

Travel a lot for work, constantly on the go and need to be connected at all times

Virtual Teamers

May be working from the office or from home but are part of a geographically spread team

Living the Dream

Are employees located far enough from the office that they choose to permanently work from home

Family FLEXers

Can be anyone from expecting families to parents with kids who may choose to work in the evening so they can tend to their kids

Client Champions

Are employees who have been positioned on a long term project with the client requesting they work onsite

Wellbeing Gurus

Include anyone who flexes and makes decisions to improve their wellbeing

Published 01 May 2021

About the authors

Robbie Robertson's profile

Robbie Robertson

Lead Partner, Experience Design

Robbie leads the Apple alliance relationship for Deloitte nationally, and is an Experience Design Partner in the Consulting practice, based in Sydney. He is also Deloitte’s Virtual Office Managing Partner. Robbie has a passion for fusing human-centred design and business to facilitate transformation programs with clients.

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Marta Tomczyk's profile

Marta Tomczyk

Manager, Human Centred Design & innovation Lead

Marta is a curious innovator, thinker, and doer who is passionate about proposition design and new venture building. She works at the intersection of human-centred innovation, proposition design and acts as a catalyst for corporate innovation and entrepreneurship.

Follow Marta Tomczyk on LinkedIn

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