How CIOs can help employees with new work practices

Chris Conry is CIO of Fuze. As CIO, Chris Conry heads Fuze's global IT and information security functions, leveraging more than two decades of experience in IT and operational leadership, with a primary focus in growth-oriented high-tech businesses. Chris is a purveyor of cloud-first IT strategy and has a strong track record of delivering agile, business-enabling solutions for private and public enterprises.

In these uncertain times, not a day goes by that we don’t hear about how COVID-19 is changing the way we live, whether it’s ‘visiting’ a doctor, shopping, or, of course, working. Given the announcement made by the World Health Organisation that COVID-19 has reached ‘pandemic’ status, it’s safe to say that many employees will be working from home for the very first time. What does this mean for these employees and how can CIOs help them adjust to their new working environment so that they can maintain the level of productivity and efficiency needed to keep the business on track?

Enabling remote workers

Whether you’re a CIO that is working remotely and leading a remote team, or in the process of transitioning employees to remote work, there are certain processes, procedures, and technologies that you should embrace to make the shift as seamless as possible.

Network connection

Given the surge in network usage, spotty connectivity is and will be an increasing possibility. To minimise work disruption and ensure audio and video quality, remote workers should have a wired connection. When Wi-Fi is their only option, there are ways to boost the signal such as updating the router’s firmware, replacing an older router with one that supports newer standards like 802.11ac, or upgrading to a mesh-based Wi-Fi system for optimal connectivity throughout the home.

To give remote workers secure access to the information and data they need, many employees will be using a virtual private network (VPN) for the first time. Before increasing the demand on your VPN, be sure to take a look at your VPN host configuration, redundancy, and licensing. A recent Pulse Q&A surveyed 100 IT leaders and discovered that only 57% of respondents believed that their technology stacks will allow for a complete work-from-home scenario.

Employees that are working from home may encounter connectivity issues. Let remote workers know that they can and should call IT for any concerns or problems. And by the same token, reinforce to your IT staff the importance of being patient and diligent.

The right technology

What happens if employees left the office believing that they would return the next day and don’t have the peripherals such as a headset, keyboard, or mouse that they need? To determine the right course of action, you should organise a remote meeting with your HR and legal teams. This will help ensure that you’re following the correct safety protocols, while ensuring remote workers have the technology they need.

Transparency and availability

Communication and collaboration with remote teams can’t be stressed enough. Be sure to incorporate tools such as video conferencing that makes it easy for remote workers to participate in meetings. In fact, according to the Pulse Q&A survey that gathered data between 9 March 2020 and 13 March 2020, 77% of respondents are spending more on video conferencing tools.

You may also want to consider apps that provide employee status so that team members and colleagues are aware of when employees are available for a call or meeting. As you build a remote culture, fostering active participation across teams and subgroups will help remote workers communicate better and collaborate across projects.

Cyber threats

As we’ve seen in the past, cybercriminals are quick to take advantage of negative situations, such as COVID-19, for their own gain. This unfortunate circumstance should be a call to provide detailed guidance on what remote workers should be vigilant about.

Be sure to keep the channels of communication open and keep them in the loop on potential scams and cyber threats for both corporate and their personal information. It’s also imperative that remote workers have clear direction on what to do/who they should contact in the event of a real or perceived cyber incident.

As the future of in-office to remote work continues to unfold, being prepared is key to a seamless and effective transition. And despite growing concerns, many CIOs are proactively taking the necessary steps to ensure that remote workers have the right technology so that they can remain active and productive team members.

It is essential to empower remote workers by optimising their remote work environments, keeping the lines of communication open and fostering collaboration for ongoing success during this unprecedented time.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech ExpoBlockchain ExpoAI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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