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Article by Helena Nimmo, Chief Information Officer at Endava

Many organisations were forced to remodel their operations as a result of the pandemic, and CIOs like myself were tasked with leading the shift of employees from on-site to remote work, all within days.

The immediate priority for many businesses was to implement new digital solutions that would allow employees to communicate and complete their work remotely, which prompted many organisations to completely rethink their operations. And now, with uncertainty lingering amid the spread of new variants and changing government guidelines, enabling employees to work from anywhere continues to pose a critical challenge for business leaders.

And as we emerge from our next wave of mandated work-from-home, the hybrid work model will only continue to gain popularity due to the flexibility it offers employees. So how can businesses address these challenges while empowering employees to work successfully from anywhere, regardless of what’s happening in the world? It boils down to three distinct themes: balancing the digital user experience, guaranteeing security, and embracing continuous change.

The user is the key

The importance of user-centricity cannot be overstated. Companies must consider who their staff are when selecting the tech, they’ll be using on a day-to-day basis. This is a hugely underestimated step but think about it: people’s working styles are shaped by their ever-changing personal circumstances. A parent, for example, will have significantly different work schedule than a new graduate living in a flat share. People’s ability to quickly adapt to new technology will also vary depending on their previous experience with the technology in issue, and businesses must take this into account in order to successfully assist the adoption of new technologies.

Ensure a secure environment

Security is top-of-mind for businesses. And because of that, they must alter their compliance operations while staff work from home, co-working spaces, or coffee shops as offices shut due to Plan B.

Most compliance standards assume that most workers will be based in the office full-time, which means that businesses have their work cut out for them in making employees’ home offices compliant with stringent regulatory requirements. These seemingly out-dated procedures will need to be updated, and new rules and technologies will need to be introduced to adapt to the realities of hybrid work as we re-enter and exit WFH mandates.

But employers aren’t alone; employees also have a part to play in this process and need to be educated about cybersecurity dangers like phishing e-mails to keep themselves and their companies safe-at-home.

Embrace change

Ultimately the key to successful digital working, whether from home, hybrid, or in office, is continuous technological development.

While the pandemic pushed many enterprises to update their technology almost immediately in order to adapt to new circumstances, the path forward should be one of continuous innovation. Instead of seeking to achieve a certain – and oftentimes unattainable – end-goal, businesses’ digital journeys should be ongoing and use what I call “digital acceleration” rather than a drastic one-time transformation. Thus, upgrades and enhancements are introduced in much smaller steps, avoiding a complete overhaul and overburdening staff and IT systems. As a result, employees are the focus of the digital strategy, ensuring that new technology is actually beneficial to them, and businesses can examine and upgrade their tech stack according to their needs on a regular basis.

With the spread of Omicron and the newly implemented work from home order in the UK, uncertainty around work will likely continue well into 2022 as regulations remain in flux. Being proactive and implementing hybrid work policies that are adaptable for all employees will simplify the pivot for businesses in case of guideline changes, allowing them to accelerate or decelerate as needed. Enterprises should take inventory to determine where they are on their digital journey, assess what works and what doesn’t, and adjust course accordingly, as changes implemented at the beginning of the pandemic now need further refinement.

Ultimately, business leaders will be able to determine how to best support each employee in a hybrid environment according to their needs. From there, companies can work out how to build a strong infrastructure that suits their business needs and employees.

Helena NimmoAbout the author

Before embarking on her tech journey, Helena studied Business, Economics and Marketing. She got her start in tech when she joined Nokia in the 1990s and has since worked in customer facing and internal technology functions at Cancer Research UK, Fujitsu, and Thomson Reuters. Most recently, she took up the position of CIO at Endava, the global technology company delivering digital evolution, agile transformation, and automation solutions where she holds global responsibility for Internal Tech across the Endava Group and focuses on re-imagining the relationship between technology and people.