How do we move to a remote workforce? How do we ensure security? Is there a glimpse into the future? What is the new normal, and when will it be here? Many questions still remain after COVID-19 forced businesses across the nation to rapidly shift to a work-from-home environment. Companies scrambled to implement virtual workforces, a "new normal" emerged with virtually no notice. Today, as businesses slowly begin to reopen after a three-month on-premise hiatus, working remotely seems to be less of a short-term answer and more of a long-term solution.
On Tuesday, June 2, Involta's own, Michelle Moran, Vice President of Involta's Eastern Region, had the opportunity to moderate a breakout session for the Virtual Cleveland CIO Forum and explore the most pressing questions businesses are faced with today. During the event, IT industry experts, visionaries and thought leaders spoke candidly about the transition to a virtual workforce, the challenges companies faced and how to move forward in the coming months.
The stimulating agenda included multiple sessions and a prestigious panel of speakers including John Sprecher, Head of Cloud at Goggle, Anthony Joy, CIO of Cleveland Metroparks, Phyllis Teater, CIO of Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, Sue Workman, SVP and CIO of Case Western Reserve University, Simon Lin, CRIO of Nationwide Children's Hospital, and Harry Moseley, Global CIO of Zoom Video Communications. The sessions covered a multitude of topics from Digital Engagement in the time of Quarantine to Humanizing Your Company Through Empathy, Resiliency, and Optimism.
Let’s examine the top takeaways from this premier event.
#1 How Businesses Shifted
While the last-minute shift to a virtual workforce was not ideal, it was the only option. Businesses had to adopt unique ways to keep their companies moving forward. Many said they were surprised by how much was accomplished in a short period of time, not to mention how willing employees were to implement a remote solution.
While working from home required additional training, troubleshooting and support, many companies discovered that their employee productivity increased in a virtual environment. As an added bonus, co-workers got to know more about one another based on their bookshelves’ virtual surroundings, knick-knacks, children and pets!
#2 Challenges Faced
For more conservative companies and CEOs, adapting to a virtual landscape has been a difficult transition. Finding the right balance between what work-life was and what it has evolved to is a continual work in progress. Many miss the in-person collaboration sessions and the daily face-to-face interaction. The early-on video conferencing security issues and web-based privacy concerns heightened tensions out of the gate, making it difficult for some organizations to transition smoothly.
One of the top challenges for businesses opening their doors back up will be to remain vigilant to official health guidelines and recommendations. Additional measurements such as additional sanitization, temperature checks and social distancing parameters will require companies to absorb additional costs to enforce these procedures. Nonetheless, it is the only way to safeguard employees, customers, the public and their business.
#3 The Future Office
Communication is the key to moving forward. This includes bridging the communication gap between generations in the workplace, maintaining a connection with those who are laid off or furloughed, over-communicating and keeping an open dialogue between staff and leadership teams. Leaders should also be empathetic and receptive to employees in need of extra assistance and support.
While traveling is limited, employees should be encouraged to take mental health days and vacations as part of their PTO. The pandemic has impacted everyone in their own unique and personal way, so time off to step away from work, even when it’s virtual, is key to maintaining good mental fitness.
Preparing for what lies ahead also includes a reevaluation of company IT preparedness and the technological adjustments required to maintain a virtual and office environment simultaneously. As we enter the “new normal” event experts project the new work environment to land between an even percentage of employees working in the office and working from home. This new hybrid work model will require patience, understanding, and respect for businesses in order to recover and thrive successfully.
Involta would like to thank Premier Connects for hosting the Virtual Cleveland CIO Forum and for inviting Michelle Moran, Vice President of Involta's Eastern Region, to moderate this thought-provoking event.
Whether your business is preparing to reopen, decided to remain virtual, or a combination of both, Involta is here to help you get there.