Digital transformation: 3 ways it improves hybrid work

In today’s hybrid world, digital transformation does much more than boost operational efficiencies. Here are three examples of how it supports disparate teams.
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The business world has undergone a massive change in recent years. CIOs have had to adopt a new mindset while exploring new ways for their companies to approach hybrid work. Successful hybrid work models offer businesses and employees a flexible working arrangement that accommodates both parties. Many companies are now doubling down on this model.

In a 2022 CISCO Global Hybrid Work Study comprising 28,000 full-time employees across 27 markets, most respondents cited improvements in well-being, work-life balance, relationships, and even personal confidence in hybrid settings. The survey included those across different generations, gender, and seniority.

Most (62 percent) attributed the improvement in work-life balance to more flexible work schedules, while 53 percent credited significantly reduced or eliminated commuting time as a major factor.

As businesses continue to adapt to this new way of working, CIOs need to ensure their digital transformation efforts are helping to shape the future of hybrid work. Here are three ways to lead the charge.

1. Explore digital transformation initiatives that enhance collaboration

For IT teams, one of the biggest challenges of remote work is ensuring effective collaboration. Digital transformation enables distributed employees to work together seamlessly, regardless of their location.

Cloud-native solutions, videoconferencing, and collaboration tools enable remote teams to communicate and share files in real time, making it easier to work together on projects. They also help prevent remote workers from feeling isolated, closing the gap between in-person and remote teams.

[ Also read Hybrid work: Culture change required. ]

CIOs have embraced big changes over the years, with the very heart of digital transformation being cloud-based applications. With these tools enabling collaboration, meetings, and file sharing, IT teams can focus on security protocols. They need to develop provisioning and permissions for such tools while regularly monitoring to ensure the right employees have proper access.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) management tools are also finding a place in the market to help IT teams have a better view of this process, especially in larger enterprises that use hundreds or more apps.

2. Leverage data to empower effective decision-making

CIOs know all too well the traditional 9-to-5 workday is no longer the norm as more employees demand flexibility in their work schedules. Digital transformation has enabled employees to work from anywhere at any time, helping to improve their work-life balance. The ability to work remotely has also allowed employees to choose their working environment, whether that’s in a quiet coffee shop, a co-working space, or a home office.

While most employees welcome this flexibility, CIOs are still working to accommodate the way that digital transformation has changed workflows.

Top priorities include ensuring that decision-makers have enough actionable data to act swiftly. In the move from on-prem to the cloud, CIOs are responsible for augmenting their tech stack with tools that keep information flowing, optimize data, and prevent silos. These smaller teams can make faster decisions while ensuring approvals by appropriate stakeholders. To improve flexibility, CIOs must empower their teams to adopt tools that take on these initiatives.

3. Use platforms that automate tasks and provide transparent workflows

Digital transformation significantly improves how work is done, increasing efficiency and productivity. But part of digital transformation also includes operational transformation and improving workflow at a granular level.

The transition to remote and hybrid work requires new processes to be built into existing workflows. Additional approvals and check-ins increase transparency but can sometimes add extra steps to the process.

Enter automation. Automation tools can quickly and accurately handle many manual and repetitive tasks, allowing employees to focus on higher-value activities. However, many organizations still struggle to manually handle internal operations such as requests, approvals, and service tickets, causing delays and inefficiencies. These operations become roadblocks that prevent IT leaders from moving on to larger digital transformation initiatives.

To overcome this, CIOs can encourage their organizations to leverage work management solutions that increase visibility into their workflows, bringing stakeholders, from upper management to entry-level, on the same page. Managers can use these solutions to set clear objectives and delegate responsibilities to hybrid teams. When every team member can see a project’s status in real time, it helps to ensure that progress is being made.

These solutions enable project managers to use tools and dashboards to track performance against monthly or quarterly KPIs. In turn, employees feel empowered to own their action items, which boosts productivity.

By giving everyone in the organization a birds-eye view, digital transformation is helping organizations redefine collaboration, use data to improve workplace flexibility, and discover platforms that automate tasks and enhance visibility. And by facilitating a more efficient and productive workplace, transformation gives employees greater flexibility and control over their work-life balance, reducing burnout and ultimately benefiting both the organization and its workforce.

[ Learn how leaders are embracing enterprise-wide IT automation: Taking the lead on IT automation. ]

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Ritish Reddy is one of three co-founders of Zluri, a provider of an enterprise SaaS Management and Orchestration platform, and leads the organization's marketing and partnerships initiatives.