Indefinite remote work practices call for definitive action

Summary from Dropbox Digital Boardroom – Thursday 17th September 2020

After such a hectic few months throwing so many plans out the window, is there the possibility of a 2021 roadmap with so many issues still occurring and potentially more unknown issues to come? Digital Transformation projects are understandably being accelerated across the globe and with remote working here to stay in some form, what does that mean for IT teams in future?

And while businesses still need to operate at high levels, the big questions remain: what strategy should be adapted for a flexible hybrid model? Which tools will overcome the difficulties we face and help staff be productive? And why should CIOs matter in the future?

What was the first challenge you faced as a result of the outbreak? What quick fixes did you implement to address them?

While the process of allowing staff to work remotely gave little problems, the main concerns felt by organisations included:

  • Connectivity- depending on location, speed and other home factors such as family life
  • Security- being outside the main office security systems and educating employees on the possible dangers while working remotely
  • Digital readiness- depending on the industry and the progress of their Digital Transformation journey
  • Equipment- for employees working on desktops rather than handheld devices, or those whose manual work has been moved to devices, the necessary equipment may not have been readily available
  • Culture- for close knit businesses or organisations that operate in a certain way, being separated and working in new ways can lead to changes in culture
  • Employee wellbeing- ensuring that your staff are happy within their surroundings and that communication channels are always open
  • Productivity- while productivity appeared high in the initial stages, keeping that workrate up and introducing employee tracking without being too controlling and losing flexibility is very important. Making sure they are trained properly and putting trust in employees will ensure the office remains on course

How important is it to have a long term digital workplace strategy?

It is now anticipated that this remote or hybrid form of working will be here for a while, therefore it is important that a flexible, scalable, cost effective plan is developed with seamless connectivity that will support staff and clients alike to keep an organisation in control of the current situation and prepared for any other situations that may arise in the future, helping the business as a whole and giving the CIO and IT teams control over what needs to be done to survive.

The role of the CIO has changed in the last six months. How have you seen your role evolve during the crisis?

While the technology is and has been in place for some time, the CIO’s goal now is to focus more on the people and the business, remaining aligned with business objectives while being taking more of an advisory role as CEOs develop more of an interest in how things work to steer your organisation in the right direction. It has become clear that long term strategy is pointless now as no one can predict the future, but CIOs can prepare themselves for any kind of future with different approaches and plans for any scenario with continuity planning effectively replacing long term plans.

What tech should be focused on long term?

In an effort to save time and money and improve efficiency, now is the time to reevaluate all processes to ensure they are fit for purpose and not a drain on finance or resources. Investment is likely to be hard to come by for some time and so departments will have to prove our worth by being aligned with business objectives and focusing on optimising and cost cutting, showing what can be done with less, then laying out what can be done with the same amount of funding and time.

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