How Tech Leaders Can Attain Remote Working Flexibility

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Zentangle

The evolution of the remote working model in four waves: the first wave to address cost pressure; the second wave to attract and retain talent; the third wave for COVID-19 business continuity; the fourth wave to establish remote working as a new normal.

In this article, I will introduce what challenges top management, especially CIOs, should address if they are to fully realize the potential benefits of remote working for their staff, operations, and the growth of their business.

Creating synergies between technology and the employee value proposition

The unique set of challenges presented by a remote workforce requires all senior leaders in an organization—CIOs, CHROs, CISOs, CDOs, CTOs—to work together to resolve them.

Technology leaders have always had to plan for unprecedented events. Since SARS, most business continuity plans recognize regional pandemics as a potential risk and focus on how other regions of the globe can pick up the workplace slack. The global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and has caught many technology leaders unaware.

Within this new fourth wave in the evolution of remote working, where it becomes a new normal rather than a stop-gap, the technology leader needs to look beyond table stakes priorities. He or she needs to clearly demonstrate not just a link, but synergy between the technology agenda and the employee value proposition. Opening up the possibility of remote working to more employees needs to be achieved in weeks rather than months so it can quickly become a part of a new operational plan.

Some old constants remain such as ensuring that technological systems and procedures are aligned with business goals and planning ahead for future needs. But now an additional focus needs to be put on many new considerations including:

  • Is remote-access infrastructure robust enough over the long term to handle the number of employees shifting to remote working?
  • Are core business applications cloud-ready? Or are you relying on bulky solutions that are not user friendly as a workaround?
  • Can your collaboration solutions cope with a massive explosion in traffic volumes as users switch to remote working?
  • Is your dispersed office environment secure?

Once you move the office perimeter to the user device, it’s vital to establish secure trust environments to safeguard customer, financial or personal data. We’ve already seen a massive uptick in cybercrime looking to exploit COVID-19. What’s clear is that technology leaders need to seize the opportunity to plan for the future right now. They need to look at how to put in place a network architecture that will enable them to quickly adapt to the new, flexible remote-working world.

The six-step guide to maximizing remote working effectiveness

When most people talk about remote working today, they are really talking about working from home. However, the model needs to be flexible — the ability to “work from wherever,” rather than just home, is key. The challenge for technology leaders is that most current workplace constructs cannot be fully scaled to support a flexible remote-working model.

We have already mentioned that buy-in from senior leadership is critical to ensuring that an effective remote-working model is created. For the technology leader specifically, six factors are required for an employee to be able to effectively work remotely.

Source: Return to business as unusual: Workplace of the future. P.4; Copyright: Verizon Business, Boston Consulting Group
  1. A scalable network enabled by automation, such as software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualized network services (VNS), that can flex to support new usage patterns with work shifting outside of offices and enable application availability prioritization
  2. Cloud-ready applications for collaboration, core operations and support
  3. Strong and secure mobile connectivity to access those applications, as well as the corporate WAN (for those that are not cloud-enabled)
  4. End-to-end monitoring of network performance to maintain control, usability and security
  5. Zero-trust security implementation that strengthens the protection of sensitive information outside of physical offices
  6. A resilient end-user support model and supply chain that can deal with spikes in teleworker demand, both in terms of calls for help and the need for laptops, tablets or other mobile devices

But remote working is just one part of the workplace of the future, and you cannot look at the six imperatives outlined above in isolation. You need an overall technology transformation road map in place.

Sampath Sowmyanarayan, president for global enterprise at Verizon Business, authored this article. 

More details on these six technological building-blocks can be found in the remote working whitepaper he wrote in conjunction with Boston Consulting Group available here.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends. Photo credit: iStockphoto/Zentangle