CXO

We’re Back in The Office! Now What?

We’re Back in The Office!  Now What?

As the pandemic has slowed down and vaccinations have picked up, employees have returned to the office, at least in part. Yet it is different from how it was before. As IT leaders, what will our focus be as we move through this process?

First, just as IT was critical to moving our organizations to the remote environment, we are critical to moving our organizations back to the in-person or hybrid world. We took a lot of steps to allow remote working, and now we must reverse or adjust those changes as people come back.

For example, some organizations allowed staff to take their desktops home to facilitate working remotely during the pandemic. As those staff return, especially if they continue to work remotely some of the time, we have work to do to ensure that they have the right equipment to get their work done. In universities, we added equipment to our classrooms to facilitate remote and hybrid teaching. While these teaching modes will continue to be a piece of our student experience, many universities are planning to return to substantial in-classroom experiences.

We have work to do to ensure that our classrooms are equipped to provide a great in-room and remote experience for our students and faculty. Finally, we need to readjust how we handle end-user support. During the pandemic, IT organizations shifted to a remote support option which we found to be highly effective and efficient. As staff return to the workplace, we need to plan to leverage these new tools while integrating an appropriate amount of in-person support. As we address these issues, communication with our colleagues across the organization is critical.

Second, we need to worry about employee retention and recruitment. We are constantly hearing that many employees are contemplating changing jobs. Some reports estimate as many as 25% of workers plan to change jobs in the near future (https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/19/1-in-4-workers-is-considering-quitting-their-job-after-the-pandemic.html). The economy is in an upswing. The pandemic and the isolation of the lockdown caused many people to reconsider their career choices, creating a perfect storm that will lead to massive turnover. Furthermore, returning to “normal,” albeit a different “normal” than what we had before, is stressful.

The stress, the hot employment market and the pandemic experience all point toward major changes in our workforce. This is especially true in Information Technology, a field that really didn’t experience any slowdown during the pandemic, and where our skills are in high demand. In previous blog posts, I’ve urged IT leaders to pay attention to the morale of their staff during the pandemic. We need to continue to pay attention to IT staff morale by connecting with our teams and showing appreciation for them and the work they do.

Finally, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are going to be front and center as we move forward. The interest in social justice issues that we saw following the events of Summer 2020 will bring fundamental change to the technology workplace. Diversity, or the lack thereof, has been a topic in the technology field for many years, however, change has been slow and difficult, as outlined here: https://hbr.org/2020/12/to-increase-diversity-u-s-tech-companies-need-to-follow-the-talent. As noted in the article, the shifting workforce offers us some new opportunities to diversify our environments. This will be helpful as the shifting demographics of our workplace and the communities we serve will push us toward meaningful change much more quickly. As IT leaders, it is time for us to embrace this critical activity as one of our core goals as we move forward.

Contributors

Helen Norris

Helen Norris, Chief Information Officer, Chapman University

Helen Norris is the Chief Information Officer at Chapman University. She has almost 30 years’ experience working in IT including several years in the private sector in a variety of industries including advertising and consumer products. M... More   View all posts

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Helen Norris

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