CIOs are tackling more than ever before. According to research from Qualtrics, more than 80% of CIOs reported that their responsibilities have increased over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And for many CIOs, one of the biggest added responsibilities they’re now facing? Navigating the challenges associated with shifting their teams to a hybrid work model.
Moving from a primarily in-office operation to a fully hybrid team presents a unique set of challenges for today’s CIO. But what, exactly, are those challenges? And how are CIOs navigating those challenges to successfully support their teams, whether they’re working remotely or in the office?
One of the biggest tech-related challenges inherent with shifting to a hybrid work model is, without a doubt, security. When work happens within the office, CIOs have a certain level of control over security. They can set specific parameters to keep their networks, data, and sensitive customer and employee information secure. For example, they can restrict access to certain websites or applications, or require two-factor authentication to access certain files or information.
But there’s much less of that control when employees are working remotely. That’s why remote work can pose a much larger security risk than having your team contained to your office. For example, employees generally have less secure Wi-Fi connections when working remotely.
It’s also more difficult to monitor, control, or put safeguards around your employees’ internet usage when they’re working out of the office and/or on their own device—which, depending on their behavior, can add more risk to the company (for example, if they download malicious software or engage in “shadow IT,” using applications that aren’t approved by the IT department).
There’s no denying that security is a risk when shifting to a hybrid work model. But CIOs can counteract those risks with effective employee training. If you’re concerned about cybersecurity for your hybrid team, make sure you’re training employees on how they can keep their devices and networks safe and secure when they’re working remotely. For example, you might create a “best practices” training that goes over the basics of cybersecurity, the do’s and don’ts of how to stay secure when working remotely, and some of the most common security issues employees need to be aware of.
A hybrid work model, by definition, will have a lot of employees working from home. And for many of those employees, their work from home (WFH) setup is a real problem.
For example, according to the Hybrid Working Challenges and Considerations Survey from Atlas Cloud, an IT consultancy based in the UK, less than half of workers have a dedicated workspace at home—and according to a recent survey from Slack, about 1 in 4 workers struggle with internet connectivity issues while working from home.
Employees not being able to work effectively from home can cause issues with productivity and morale. And CIOs are having to figure out how to ensure their teams have what they need to be productive, effective, and engaged with their work—no matter where they may be working.
If you want your team to succeed in a hybrid work environment, you need to invest in your employees working from home and make sure their setup enables them to work just as effectively as they would from the office—whether that’s giving them a monthly stipend for more reliable, high-speed internet or sending them the equipment and furniture they need for a better WFH workspace (for example, an extra monitor, standing desk, or a room divider to create a more concrete barrier between their work life and home life).
Redesigning workstations to support hybrid teams
CIOs are responsible for designing workstations that suit their teams and organizations. And as CIOs shift to a hybrid work model, they’re having to rethink their workstation—and make changes and upgrades that address the needs of a changing workforce. For example, this includes equipping conference rooms with video conferencing technology and collaborative software to allow for more seamless collaboration between remote and in-person employees.
Luckily, organizational leadership understands that both the office and the workstation need to evolve with their changing workforce—and are willing to spend accordingly. According to PwC’s US Remote Work Survey, the vast majority of executives have plans to increase spending to better equip their offices to support hybrid work—including investing in tools for virtual collaboration (72 percent), IT infrastructure to secure virtual connectivity (70 percent), conference rooms with enhanced virtual connectivity (57 percent), and creating more flexible, communal workspaces (also known as “hot desks”) within the office (48 percent).
Shifting to a smart office
As mentioned, when you shift to a hybrid work model you will, by definition, have a number of employees working remotely, and a number of people working in the office. Figuring out how to navigate both can present major challenges for the CIO and the rest of the leadership team.
In the midst of the shift to a hybrid work environment—and in an effort to address the challenges and empower their team’s best work—many CIOs are making another shift.
And that’s a shift to the smart office.
Smart offices offer a variety of technologies that make hybrid work more possible and effective. And if you’re shifting to hybrid work, as CIO, one of the best things you can do is identify which smart office technologies will work best for your team and office. For example, if your organization is allowing team members to choose when they work from home and when they work into the office, an IoT system that tracks who is in the office, where they’re working, and how many workstations are available will help employees decide whether any given day is the best time for them to be in the office—and help them avoid the experience of showing up for work and finding there’s no space to accommodate them.
Or maybe you’re concerned about keeping your in-person team safe in the face of continuing pandemic-related challenges. Smart office technology (like contactless room entry and sensors that monitor occupancy and adjust resources, including airflow and ventilation, accordingly) can help to create a safer office space for your employees.
The point is, smart offices can make the shift to hybrid work easier and more efficient—which is why so many CIOs are leveraging smart office technology as they make the transition to a hybrid work environment.
Overcome these challenges to successfully transition your team to hybrid work
Shifting to a hybrid work model can create a better, more efficient workplace. But there’s no denying that there can be challenges during the transition—many of which fall on the CIO’s shoulders. But now that you know the challenges facing CIOs during the shift to hybrid work—and, more importantly, how to navigate those challenges—you’re armed with the information you need to make the transition to hybrid work as easy and seamless as possible for your team, yourself, and your organization.
Are you looking for new solutions to address the challenges of hybrid work? Read our article “Deloitte: 9 Technology Trends for 2021” to get inspired:
Author: Deanna deBara