It’s now becoming clear just how decisive a role technology will play on organisational outcomes in the new workplace. Technology, as those who deliver and support its role in our organisations well know, can affect employee morale, productivity and culture in the work from anywhere model – as well as the security of our most important organisational assets.
Yet as Forrester has put it, for many organisations COVID-19 has laid bare the extent to which they have underinvested in dependable technology that underpins both employee experience and customer engagement. As well as just how strongly these two areas are connected.
RE:IMAGINE work – the new relevance
After a rapid transition, IT leaders now find themselves having to enable a new workplace model. In many ways, this is simply an acceleration of an existing priority. Our workforces and our societies are changing. Enabling flexibility in how we engage with employees and how they engage with us was already becoming a key component of any competitive organisation’s recruitment and engagement strategy.
Now that’s even more true. The pandemic is clearly not going to be over any time soon, and many more people have discovered that working from home has its advantages.
Despite the uncertainty of the moment, many employees have discovered that the work flexibility that have experienced amid the pandemic works quite well for them. Recent research has found that after lockdown ends, many workers would like to continue working from home. Many enjoy time back in their day and saving money. Two out of five are spending more quality time with their family.
One study of those working from home during the pandemic found that 28 per cent of respondents would want to continue working from home full time, 39 per cent want to work from home a couple of days per week, and 20 per cent would like to work from home three to four days per week.
The opportunity for IT leaders to help their businesses RE:IMAGINE the work environment has never been greater – the risk of failing to act too. After a rush to ensure business continuity, it’s time to redefine success. It’s clear that many may have compromised on security in the early stages of the work-from-home shift and, as Harbour IT’s CEO Luke Clark says, “it won’t be long before ‘good enough’ user experience is simply not good enough.”
Experience and security
The primary obstacles are clear: application performance and security. Research by ADAPT, in Harbour IT’s RE:IMAGINE research report found that employees experienced a certain level of friction while working remotely. While close to 80 per cent of respondents managed to successfully provide access to core applications, communications, and collaboration tools respectively, only 57 per cent were confident that the use of collaboration and communication tools was frictionless.
In the rush to enable remote working at scale, many businesses now realising they now face significant issues with respect to network security and data protection. The speed of the transition raises concerns around secure access, perimeter security for third-party contractors who now work remotely, and overall monitoring and management of various applications.
With cyber risk on the rise in 2020, businesses need to ensure they are effectively taking security into account in how they design and implement their IT solutions. They also need to ensure their set up is compliant with relevant regulations.
Organisations that are able to optimise their environments to adapt and thrive with a flexible and secure work-from-anywhere models that empowers employees will get ahead.
IT leaders need to look to ensure they have secure, reliable infrastructure, as well as remote collaboration tools, to support a dispersed/hybrid workplace model on a permanent basis. This relies on accessible and trusted hybrid cloud SaaS and Cloud-based solutions like Microsoft Teams that enable employees to work from anywhere, and secure data and trusted networks that scale as needed.
Yet many IT leaders and technologists admit they are facing one of the greatest challenges of their careers as they look to address and balance these priorities. Eighty seven per cent see this period of time as an opportunity to show their value to the business.
It’s clear that many realise that, as McKinsey has highlighted, “growth is a speed game: as past recessions show, the winners are those who innovate fast, make bold moves and rapidly reallocate resources.”
Insight, process, partners
The reality is that there is too much for most IT teams to tackle alone – particularly with broader digitisation strategies to drive around efficiency and optimisation, performance and scalability and delivering on the long-running priority of improving digital customer experience.
To step up and guide their organisations through the current crisis and emerge stronger IT leaders should look for:
- Insight: Data-driven insights to make the right decisions for their business
- Process: The right infrastructure and culture to enact change
- Partners: The strategic support to implement transformation
This includes working with managed service providers who have experience delivering work-from-anywhere models fit for purpose for your business goals – both today and in the future – staff requirements and regulatory demands.
As part of our RE:IMAGINE, a content series designed by Harbour IT, part of Canon Business Services and our industry leading partners – including Microsoft, Pure Storage, Palo Alto, Cisco, NetApp and Converga – we’ll provide the data, insights, guidance and partnerships needed to deliver meaningful and efficient digital transformation for your workplace and beyond in coming months and years.
In our RE:IMAGINE Work Customer Immersion session we heard about how Pepper Money shifted to the cloud to enhance employee collaboration and customer experience. We discussed how IT professionals are navigating change to improve collaboration and customer experience in the next phase of recovery. Check out the recording here.WATCH THE RECORDING