Workplaces have changed dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic shifted employees everywhere to virtual spaces. Everyone has had to make adjustments.
“So, it’s critical to have some kind of flexibility in my work,” said Essence Pina, who recently joined the Radar & Sensors Undersea Ship Systems team at Raytheon, a business of Raytheon Technologies. The Air Force veteran started her new job in April 2021.
“I’m a hands-on person and I like interacting with my colleagues. But, even though I was fully virtual at first, I still felt like part of the team because the company’s collaboration and communications tools made it easy for me to connect.”
That’s been a key goal from the start. “We quickly recognized that this shift would turn into the largest pilot program for virtual collaboration across the world,” said Steve Smith. As executive director of operations, globalization and strategy for Raytheon, a Raytheon Technologies business, he leads the Office of the Future team. It’s focused on improving the remote work experience, virtual collaboration and on-site safety.
“We realized that we would never go back to the way it used to be,” Smith said. The company now has various options for its employees—from remote to hybrid to on-site—a model that will prevail moving forward.
Digital technologies drive transformation
With a long-range view, Raytheon has deployed technologies so people can continue to meet the needs and goals of the business wherever they work. To handle the massive surge in need for remote access, the company increased bandwidth and VPN, or Virtual Private Network, connections to ensure data and information security. It has also distributed more than 19,000 pieces of equipment, including laptops, computer peripherals and cellphones across the global workforce.
Digital technology specialists at Raytheon have also standardized and scaled platforms that empower collaboration for remote workers as well as those on site—from Government Zoom for videoconferencing to Microsoft Teams for instant chat and document-sharing for secure virtual communications. Additionally, the company’s digital transformation efforts include model-based engineering as well as cloud and edge computing and data analytics.
Meanwhile, for some employees and roles, on-site is still the place to be. Engineers and others who work on classified projects, for example, go on site to protect information, and manufacturing employees have been coming to work in person throughout the pandemic.
“We need folks to assemble and test hardware in our factories. That won’t change in the near future,” Smith said. But he noted that the company’s digital technologists are closely collaborating with its security teams and customers to expand virtual collaboration among classified spaces.
“That opens the door to broader thinking for the longer term—along the lines of virtual linkages, specialized classified facilities and regional hubs in which we can network and coordinate and collaborate together,” he said. “It’s an evolution in which technology is our accelerant.”
The foreseeable future
“Transforming workplaces is relevant for the entire workforce,” said Justin Hiehle, site services senior manager on the Office of the Future team at Raytheon. Employees who support classified projects on site, for example, can go to a drop-in space to and log onto Zoom.
“When someone’s on site, they have the same experience as when they work from home,” Hiehle said. “Likewise, when folks work remotely, they still feel they’re part of their broader team and can get the sense of social interaction.”
That’s important to Air Force veteran Shane Perez, who joined the company in 2016 and is now on the digital technologies cybersecurity team. The various collaboration and communications tools have made remote work feel “seamless,” he said.
“Some people telecommuted before the pandemic hit. But when so many of us had to shift to fully virtual work, having the bandwidth available to use those tools was critical.” And, looking to what he calls the “foreseeable future” of on-site, remote or hybrid work, Perez said “that flexibility is huge.”
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