Creating a Digital Workplace in a Post-Pandemic World

illustration depicting cloud services
illustration depicting cloud services

One of the impressive and more positive aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the way that technology functions across all types and sizes of organisation have responded to the crisis and rapidly enabled their employees to work remotely.

Embracing the Digital Workplace

We’ve seen and helped with the herculean efforts our customers have made to increase VPN capacity, roll-out new devices, ramp up the use of cloud services such as Microsoft Teams, and help colleagues shift to a new way of working. For some it was achieved by executing well-planned and rehearsed business continuity plans, for others it necessitated a significant pivot away from their previous norm and venturing into uncharted waters of technology and practices unfamiliar to both IT Teams and the wider business.

Working together to achieve success

Collaboration and cooperation has been vital –you just have to look at the achievements of organisations such as the NHS and Microsoft working together to make Microsoft Teams available at breakneck speed to help NHS staff respond to the crisis or major banks enabling 1,000s of call centre staff to work from home in a matter of days, ensuring seamless service to customers and helping them manage their money in a crisis.

The rapid response has been impressive but as we start to settle into our new ways of working and realise that many of these changes could be here to stay, questions inevitably arise around the security and governance of these new working operations. What sacrifices were made to stand up new systems and new processes so quickly? Have organisations had the time to undertake the necessary due diligence to ensure their operations are secure and sustainable for the long term?

For many the answer will be yes but for some there may be doubts and uncertainty and, for those organisations, it is vital that they review and evolve their operations as required.

Assessing your Digital Workplace

The response to the crisis has differed across the spectrum of organisations, with some being more prepared than others. Broadly, they can be split into 3 different groups:

  • Digital Workplace Ready
  • Rapid Adapters
  • Slow or Non-adapters

Whatever camp your business falls into, all have lessons to learn and need to re-define or evolve their digital workplace strategy and governance to ensure they can both manage the ongoing situation and respond better to future crises.

Digital Workplace Ready

Organisations with an already well-developed digital workplace who were well prepared to respond and adjust to the new normal of large-scale home working.

These organisations should now consider what parts of their digital workplace approach worked well and what did not, where there are obvious gaps and room for improvement, and modify their roadmap, governance and business engagement approach to optimise for the future.

Rapid Adapters

Organisations that perhaps had a less well-developed digital workplace but quickly adapted to the new norm, increasing the provision and availability of remote working technologies and collaboration technologies. Plugging gaps informally with consumer-grade messaging & conferencing tools and file sharing, potentially without the usual robust approach to selecting and implementing appropriate enterprise level platforms.

These organisations should quickly review what was done informally and make it enterprise grade, put in place effective governance and security, and define a fit for purpose digital workplace strategy and roadmap to ensure sustainability. They also need to get closer to their business leaders and find out what really worked and where there are opportunities to drive better ways of working.

Slow or Non-Adapters

Organisations unable, for one reason or another, to effectively respond and are just “getting by” until restrictions are lifted and normality returns. Working life as we knew it is likely some way off and so businesses will have to strive for a new normal where an effective remote working capability and better collaboration tools are a necessity not a luxury. In these organisations, existing IT systems may be strained, information and data repositories become fragmented and shadow IT will be prevalent where staff have taken steps the get the job done.

These organisations need to take stock of their situation and recognise that a digital workplace is needed, particularly if the pandemic situation becomes a cyclical one, to ensure that they can continue to function and prosper. They will need to establish a digital workplace strategy, roadmap and delivery model aligned to their business needs and take the practical measures to implement this in a measured way at a pace of change and investment that their organisation can sustain.

A Checklist for Success

Wherever you are in your digital workplace journey, in our experience, there are fundamental aspects to an effective digital workplace strategy that you must get right to ensure success:

  1. Clarity of Vision for the Workplace
  2. Executive Buy-in & Vocal Sponsorship to Ensure Sucess
  3. Select the Right Platforms
  4. Define an effective Implementation Roadmap
  5. Establish your Target Operating Model (TOM)
  6. Have an effective Adoption & Change Management Approach

Whatever your starting point, and especially in the context of COVID-19 and the need to accelerate the use of remote working, all organisations need to plug any gaps in approach and evolve their digital workplace strategy to ensure it is both future and pandemic-proof.

Our experienced team of consultants and practitioners have helped many organisations across a range of sectors including financial services, utilities, commercial, and non-profit organisations to envision, plan and implement effective digital workplace strategies. If you need to accelerate your digital workplace, please get in touch.

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