Executive Perspectives Future of Work

Working from Anywhere: The New Normal

Technology leaders are embracing the new normal and need the best tools to support a work-from-anywhere model to attract the best talent and enable them to do their best work.

“You look back on it, and you’re like, wow.”

– Paul Green, Angel MedFlight Chief Development Officer

Simply put for a scenario that was anything but simple.

2020 demonstrated that people can learn and work from home anywhere – and be productive doing so. In many respects, there’s no reason to return to how work was previously conducted. Companies now know what they need to support people regardless of their location.

Businesses should embrace this new normal, in whatever version that best supports their goals as an organization, and CIOs should invest in the tools and develop the processes to support it.

Invest in IT tools for everyone, everywhere

“Digitalization really happened overnight,” Florian Moesch, Senior Executive Program Manager of Deutsche Telekom reflects. The crisis shone a spotlight on all the gaps within companies’ disaster-preparedness plan. Investing in solutions that’ll grow with your business will help you stay up and running when world events interrupt normal operations.

A sound IT infrastructure and an intuitive remote UX allows teams to focus on the work at hand instead of grappling with apps and remote logins. The goal of all remote IT solutions is to reduce friction and focus on a positive employee experience.

A pitfall of remote work is IT departments have less control over the increased number of endpoints. Endpoints are extremely vulnerable to breaches, dramatically increasing the addressable attack surface of any company. The Ponemon Institute discovered that 67% of remote workers use non-work-issued devices for work tasks, and endpoints attacks such as malware, stolen devices, and phishing have skyrocketed since the spring of 2020. Virtual desktops are key to security and to ease of use. Accessing work documents and programs should be as easy at home as it is in the office, and security should be just as robust for a distributed workforce.

Support a healthy work-life balance

According to a Dice report, technologists are overwhelmingly in favor of hybrid work. In Q4 2020, 41% of polled IT workers noted they’d like to work five days per week from home; however, that percentage plummeted in Q2 2021. Now, only 29% cited a preference for completely remote work. Also, only 17% of technologists describe working permanently in office as extremely or very desirable.

This shift in opinion could be onset by fatigue with the blurred line between home and work. Leaders should respect home and life boundaries to create a successful hybrid solution. One way that some companies are addressing this is by defaulting meeting times to 25 or 50 minutes instead of a full half hour or hour. This small buffer time allows employees to stretch and take a brief break from work. Or, consider designating one day a week as conference call-free day and encourage employees to fully sign off from work at the end of the workday to avoid burnout.

“A cultural change that will change our lives from now on”

A common sentiment among the interviewed leaders was how proud they were of their teams. People rose to the challenge of 2020. Most knowledge workers will likely never return to the office full-time. Senior IT Officer of Brisbane Catholic Education Paul Saltmarsh exclaims, “The perception that if you’re not at your desk you’re not working, or if you’re not in the classroom you’re not learning: they’re gone, they’re out the window.”

Trust and technology are at the heart of this new normal: Leaders need to trust employees to be as productive at home as they previously were in the office, and employees must have access to top-notch technology tools that facilitate remote work. Regardless of connectivity and work location, leaders must allow employees to thrive wherever they need to be.

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