The Post-Covid Reality: IT’s Role in driving distributed working
The global workforce analytics market is set to grow by up to 16% in 2020 (Businesswire)
As we get to grips with where businesses go now, how can IT maximise its role in architecting viable post-pandemic business models? This article series explores the trends, challenges and opportunities emerging from Covid, with strategic expertise to support IT leadership and the executive during the next steps of the journey.
As far back as 2015, Stanford Economist, Nicholas Bloom, demonstrated that working from home does in fact, increase productivity and reduces quit rates. The experiment caught the attention of business leaders everywhere. But it has taken a global pandemic to really cement the proposition. Companies are experiencing first-hand the benefits of a remote workforce. Outcomes including real estate savings and diversification opportunities offer scope for new efficiencies – and these cannot be ignored as businesses seek to recover.
More recently, Bloom acknowledged that the reality of enforced homeworking during Covid is different. It can fall foul of productivity pitfalls, such as childcare, space, privacy and choice. Nonetheless, many companies are making the bold decision to fully embed the remote working model. Managing productivity and efficiency – and aligning end user services to achieve this – will be a key focus for IT. It’s not surprising, then, that the global workforce analytics market is set to grow by up to 16% in 2020 (Businesswire). Ensuring that end users are properly deployed, resourced, and supported in a post-Covid reality will depend, at least in part, on accurate data and analysis. This intelligence will equip IT to optimise the portfolio, offering employees much needed support in the most effective way.
Plus, there’s the human angle to consider. If home or distributed working models are to prove effective, end users need to feel connected with the company and with each other. Attention must turn to enabling flexible working, always on capacity, barrier free access and effective virtual collaboration. These can bring end users together, promoting the creativity and agility needed to respond to changing demand. They will also open the door to a more flexible business approach, where end users can be quickly redeployed into optimum roles, in response to fast market changes.
For IT, there is huge scope here. Executives are reading the room and seeking to engage meaningfully with IT leaders to find new, future-proofed technology strategies. Still, it’s not going to be an easy ride. Our post-Covid reality series walks you through the considerations, pitfalls, and opportunities, from equipping end users with the right device strategy, through technology, connectivity, security, service management and governance. To get you started, here are three key considerations to bear in mind as you navigate the transition from pandemic to post-pandemic working.
1: The End User is IT’s consumer – it’s time to rebrand…
IT is the one area of the business that every end user interacts with. Traditionally, though, it has been broadly regarded as a clunky, policy led function. That’s increasingly the case as off the shelf technology changes user expectations. In our personal worlds, we can buy a brand-new device and be up and running within minutes. So, when the workplace demands complex onboarding processes, protocols and authentications, users become frustrated and IT becomes the villain. The pandemic has prompted the move to a lighter, more fluid approach. IT has the skills to deliver a seamless user experience, while aligning with business leadership to structure and safeguard the technology portfolio. It’s time to maximise that and reposition IT as the responsive, imaginative facilitator it has the capacity to be.
2: IT will underpin the future of work
Ultimately, staff are employed to perform specific functions. IT’s role is to architect the tools and systems that will facilitate those functions with efficient, productive, value-adding working. An educated approach is needed – one rooted in a sophisticated understanding of user roles, profiles, demographics, locations, functions, and capabilities. These insights can inform forward-thinking strategies, enhancing not only the end user’s ability to deliver, but also the business’s resilience and performance across the supply chain.
3: IT is on the strategic radar
Let’s turn to the board table. Historically, IT has had to work hard to get its voice heard. During annual operational, strategic and portfolio planning, multiple departments clamour to present their innovative new strategies. IT’s message can be lost. Yet, it is IT that powers all those strategies. And, given that none of us can predict where Coronavirus will take us next, innovation will be needed to respond to fast changing factors. The pandemic response has pushed operational IT to centre stage, eloquently demonstrating the value of technology to the board. Now, IT leadership should take its rightful seat. IT leaders must integrate their expertise with the C-Suite as they recognise the potential to not just support, but architect the digital enterprise for a new world of post pandemic working.
Read our article series, starting with how to optimise the end user device portfolio.
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Author: Jagjeet Pandha