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How to Implement a Hybrid Work IT Strategy That Fuels Digital Acceleration

How to Implement a Hybrid Work IT Strategy That Fuels Digital Acceleration

If you are a CIO or otherwise lead IT at an organization today, chances are you are trying to figure out how to support an increasing hybrid workforce while still accelerating the growth of your digital business. 

Hybrid work IT strategy is designed to support such work — were gaining traction prior to the pandemic. However, COVID-19 forced many companies – voluntarily or due to government mandates –  to quickly implement work models in which their employees worked from home, either exclusively or at least some days of the week. During the pandemic many IT leaders scrambled to implement hybrid work IT strategies, deploying collaboration, data security, and other solutions so that their employees had all the tools and resources they needed to work from home. While many of these strategies were not perfect, they usually succeeded in at least temporarily enabling employees to be productive while working outside the office. 

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Though offices are now opening back up, millions of employees around the world has gotten a taste of working from home, and many of them want to continue to do so, at least a few days of the week. IT leaders now face the reality that hybrid work is becoming the norm, and the “just get it done” hybrid work IT strategy they implemented during the pandemic needs to be replaced with a more robust, long-term strategy. 

So how should IT leaders approach this challenge with a Hybrid Work IT strategy?

After all, IT leaders need to address many difficult connectivities, security, and other challenges as they try to implement a hybrid work strategy that optimizes their IT environments for hybrid work. The wrong solutions, deployed in the wrong way, might also make it more difficult for employees to digitally engage with customers, partners, and each other. In addition, if done improperly or haphazardly, IT teams are likely to find themselves bogged down with these projects and unable to focus on other digital acceleration priorities. 

The good news is that IT leaders can overcome these challenges, and implement a hybrid IT strategy that fuels, rather than inhibits, digital acceleration by keeping four key priorities top mind —   user-centricity, security, compliance, and the customer experience. 

User-Centricity Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

An organization’s workers are likely to be at different stages in their lives and careers, and even those at similar stages will have different priorities. This means IT professionals cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to delivering technology to their users. 

For example, young twentysomething workers living in house-shares are likely to have different working patterns than parents of young children, who will have different working patterns than parents with teenagers for example. In addition, different generations often have different tolerances when it comes to technology adoption, and these need to be considered at the outset of any hybrid work-related technology deployments. 

Whether they are deploying a new video conferencing system, document management system or other application used by hybrid workers, IT professionals need to stop and think about all the different types of people using it. This goes beyond typical IT checklists that ensure the application meets its functional requirements while also being scalable and intuitive. It means thinking about how different people with different working habits will approach the application within the context of a hybrid work model – including thinking about whether these applications might overly stress employees, interfere in their personal lives, or trigger negative mental health issues.  

IT professionals can also help employees let them know if these applications are not working well for them, with processes that allow employees to easily flag any potential issues they have with applications. By helping employees flag issues they have with their hybrid work applications, IT professionals can address these issues before they cause significant user frustration or worse. 

A New Way to Work Brings New Security, Compliance and Customer Experience Challenges

While one of the most important factors, user-centricity is not the only consideration IT professionals need to take into account as they seek to optimize their IT environments for hybrid work. 

With the number and sophistication of cyberattacks continues to increase, IT leaders must also ensure their hybrid work IT strategy includes security procedures and technologies that address the fact that workers will be connecting from home, coffee shops, co-working spaces, and other networks that might be insecure. At the same time, IT professionals need to review regulatory compliance processes that were developed with the assumption that the majority – or indeed all – of their employees were working in the office, and update these processes to reflect the fact that now many of their employees are working outside the office.

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In addition to ensuring their IT environment is secure and in compliance with regulations, they can’t forget how a hybrid work IT strategy might impact the customer experience. At the onset of COVID-19, many organizations had to fix ‘digital breakages’ when they did not have the digital infrastructure in place to service customers with employees that were working remotely. Now that organizations are adopting hybrid work on an ongoing basis, IT teams need to ensure that their hybrid work IT strategy does not lead to other digital breakages that prevent customers and partners from easily engaging with the business regarding queries, orders, or concerns. If they don’t, they will potentially see sales drop, customer loyalty erodes, and damage to their brand reputation.

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Review Your Technology – and the People Using It

Enabling a workforce to work from the office, home, or anywhere with an Internet connection comes with complexities. However, as with other digital initiatives, by prioritizing user-centricity, security, compliance, and the customer experience in an approach that embraces continuous change and ongoing iterative improvement IT professionals can implement a hybrid work IT strategy that supports, rather than hinders, their organization’s digital acceleration.

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