Thanks to the pandemic and its direct implications on the workforce, the CIO role is more difficult than ever. From the first lockdown to today’s slow and strategic reopening, industry conditions have been anything but favorable or predictable. For this reason, leaders should take a targeted approach to managing hybrid work systems.
Let’s explore some ways to take control of the current unpredictable outlook and best position your organization for success.
Managing security risk
The pandemic forced thousands of individuals into the virtual workplace. Managing this change has demanded an increase in critical thinking among CIOs across industries, especially when it comes to security.
Given the complexity of remote work systems, organizations face a unique vulnerability in adopting work-from-home models. It brings a plethora of new security risks, such as less than secure internet connections and expanded attack vulnerabilities with multiple endpoints.
[ Want more real-world advice on managing remote teams? Read Remote and hybrid work: 3 new leadership rules. ]
The challenge lies in providing a distinct and flexible structure while safeguarding company security. Take a targeted and thoughtful approach to revising and implementing policies, needs, and risks as well as contingency and backup planning.
Here are some ways to support this initiative:
- Applying patches and updates on devices regularly
- Using up-to-date security training and awareness for all staff
- Ensuring all staff are comfortable with reporting concerns or mistakes immediately
- Using multi-factor authentication wherever possible
Developing a technology framework
While many of the risks posed by a hybrid work model can be attributed to technology, they can also be mitigated by applying it. For CIOs, this means developing a comprehensive and structured technology framework that’s designed to bolster company security amid the common threats posed by remote work practices. A cyber hygiene assessment tackles this by helping CIOs understand what areas of their business require the most support.
VPNs, encrypted networks, and other technologies are often at the center of these security strategies for remote work systems. When applied correctly, these tools can help create secure boundaries between home and business use of networks and protect against threats and vulnerabilities.
Rethinking employee experience needs
Humans are social creatures who require some contact with others, but determining the right balance between proximity and contact in the virtual workplace is difficult – too much contact can be exhausting, and too little can lead to isolation. Work to find a balance that can help support your staff as they navigate the nuanced world of remote work.
It’s also important to adopt a blended approach to technology and physical space. A combination of co-working spaces and telepresence tools can be just what you need to facilitate contact and collaboration among employees. This allows for an open environment where people can both collaborate and decompress in their own way while also bringing a sense of connection that may be impossible to achieve in a virtual environment.
[ Read also: Hybrid work: 5 tips for prioritizing the employee experience ]
Embracing flexibility and autonomy
It’s not easy to develop policies that address both business and human needs in remote and hybrid work environments, but one thing remains certain: flexibility paired with autonomy is essential for success. CIOs play a critical role in creating an environment of flexibility and autonomy for staff members – one that can help support their professional development while also fostering increased satisfaction and success.
By designing flexible structures such as open offices, flexible part-time options, and telecommuting policies that allow employees freedom in how they do their jobs, you can help bridge the gap between remote work practices and success in the workplace. At its core, flexibility fosters professional growth and personal satisfaction while also enabling a range of working styles and preferences.
With today’s evolving social and professional landscape, there are many factors that may lead to an employee transitioning into a work-from-home position. Recognizing these factors is an important step for CIOs who are building comprehensive hybrid work strategies. Direct and support your employees as they transition to remote work, while also mitigating any associated risk. This will ease the transition from the traditional office model to remote – an important practice to bring greater long-term prosperity to your workforce through flexibility.
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