Next Phase: Opening the Workplace

Key Questions for the CIO During the Transition

Leaders have spent the last several months stabilizing their organizations as they work through the challenging circumstances brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Now that most senior executives have a better understanding of the environment, they are identifying opportunities to optimize the balancing of bringing employees back into the office in a safe but balanced approach. These executives know there is no “one-size fits all approach. However, there are common questions the overall organization needs to consider: 

The CIO has a unique situation as key member of the C-Suite to execute on the above questions but also ask the individuals specific IT questions for their organization and how to best support the rest of the organization.  The rest of the below information is to formulate some common questions we have discussed with senior IT leadership as the begin opening their offices. 

Leadership and Change Management Focus Areas 

Perhaps the most important step to ensure a successful return to the workplace is ensuring leaders communicate openly, honestly and often with employees. So one of the first considerations should be to build a well-coordinated re-entry plan that is both empathetic to people’s needs while managing risks, yet still ensures that business needs are being addressed.  

Consider what information may be needed to properly monitor and manage, in real time, the progress of the transition including internal employee data, governmental trends in local markets and partner/customer requirements. 

Questions to ask around change management could include:  

  • What is the optimized approach, key considerations and infrastructure requirements for individuals working remotely and on-site? 
  • What training requirements and communication protocols need to be developed to ensure both remote and on-site employeeare clear on the evolving process? 
  • What protocol discussions will be held with top vendors, partners, and customers to ensure everyone is aligned to the requirements supporting a strong, long-term collaboration?  

I Considerations 

Preparing facilities and systems for the “new normal” are likely considerations for which most technology leaders have begun preparations. This ranges from the obvious need for stringent cleaning and disinfecting practices to meeting social distancing requirements in high-touch areas such as shared desktops, servers, network equipment and more. We have found many organizations are adopting a tiered structure, and associated protocols, for employees to be on-site. Split shifts, or alternate on-site work schedules to manage social distance needs, yet ensure appropriate on-site coverage will likely need to be developed.  

Flexibility is the key to success here. Old ways of thinking (pre-COVID) may need to be replaced with creative solutions. For example, are there any IT services that could be altered or even eliminated to ensure proper social distancing?  

And what happens when an employee tests positive for COVID-19? What infrastructure or applications will be required to manage those cases within the company, along with the overall evolution of the issue by office, region and/or company? One case is likely to lead to others, and organizations must be prepared with risk management or operational resilience programs to manage a sudden spike in cases in a particular site or region. Ask: is the infrastructure in place to manage such a situation? And, for multi-location organizations, is there a process and associated infrastructure in place to integrate the knowledge gained with the first re-opening to share with other offices or work sites? 

Other questions to consider include: 

  • Is there an incident response infrastructure and associated policies in place to manage individual FAQs and incidents to report?
  • Is there an appropriate new process and controls in place to manage security and other compliance risks, as well as to ensure they are operating effectively?
  • Are there any productivity issues that need to be managed in the current environment for such reasons as: remote vs. on-site, concerned employees, supporting the business appropriately, etc.?
  • Is there a plan in place to quickly evolve collaboration tools to ensure maximum efficiencies?
  • Does the company need to invest to ensure appropriate virtual collaboration, security, financial discipline and risk management in the “new normal? 

Finding the Right Partner to Navigate Uncertainty 

Protiviti has been working closely with our clients to help navigate the transition from “react and respond” to confidently dealing with the uncertainty that lies ahead.  

How companies have responded to the impact of coronavirus has taught us all many valuable lessons. As we shake off the dust of the last few months and move to reposition organizations to continue to grow and prosper in a new world, we are partnering with our customers to develop a range of innovative solutions, ranging from re-entry technology design and customization to reprioritization of the project portfolio to complete realignment of the organization’s strategic plan. We are impressed by the resilience we see and believe that most organizations will emerge from these current challenges even stronger than ever before.  

To learn more about how Protiviti is supporting CIOs and other leaders in returning to the workplace, visit our website or contact us.  

Aric Quinones

Managing Director
Technology Consulting

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