The operating climate for businesses is complex and moving more quickly than ever before. Companies are reimagining all aspects of their operations to drive efficiency and revenue while seeking organizational agility. Natural disasters and global crises like COVID-19 increase this challenge exponentially. While every functional leader must think differently in this global crisis, massive changes face the CIO. CIOs are increasingly positioned in a leadership role to help their peers understand how they can effectively use technology to respond, recover, and return to growth.
Why is the CIO so pivotal in a response situation? As the organization's IT leader, the CIO, and their IT teams, are at the center of crisis response in a digitally enabled world—and their most critical priority should be business continuity in the face of unprecedented change.This post is the first in a three-part series exploring business continuity through three different lenses: employees, critical business processes, and data assets. Today we’re focusing on employees.
The top priority for CIOs in a crisis is to address the large and sudden spike in demand for remote working capacity caused by the closure of offices and other facilities, while maintaining worker morale and productivity and managing operating costs. And, adds Workday CIO Sheri Rhodes, “Each employee’s situation working remotely is unique, and while standards are important, it’s also important to meet the workmate where they are. This could be as simple as recommending noise-cancelling headsets so they can work in peace in what might be a noisier environment than they’re used to.”
There are multiple IT processes and technology capabilities critical to flexibly scale and handle unplanned workloads. Below are three best practices for supporting business continuity for employees.
Support the IT Workforce
Ensure that IT workers have the ability to flexibly and effectively work from home, with the tools and support to manage an increase in IT workload from a newly remote workforce and customer base. And, encourage the whole of the workforce to remember this: IT workers are people, with their own families and other responsibilities outside of work.
Implement flexible working hours, and identify capable backups for the continuity of critical roles. Are call center staff supported with capabilities such as digital collaboration systems like Slack to workers at home? Ensure anytime feedback systems are in place to keep morale up among IT employees facing increased call loads and new challenges from remote work.
For IT and other workers, on-demand video learning is a powerful way to guide workers to set up and best use remote worker technology. For newer IT staff supporting remote workers, or to help prepare them for increased workloads, it’s worth investing the time in role-playing activities to ensure they can handle new IT support calls. Testing is also critical to ensure that remote IT and other organizational staff have the proper tools, and that those tools are updated and secure. Also of vital importance is collaboration software to ensure virtual meetings at scale through applications such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
We’re encouraging Workday customers who need to quickly realign their workforce to use our flexible frameworks, such as Workday Org Studio, which can help model different organizational structures that might be needed to support a surge in demand in a part of the business. This is one of many Workday tools that can assist with rapid response, which some of our executives recently discussed in a webinar.
Build for Hyper-elasticity
With the shift to remote working, CIOs need to focus on “right scaling” infrastructure capacity for VPNs and increased network bandwidth. Funding for transformational projects may need to shift, temporarily, to support the scale up of infrastructure for remote work.
Most people reading this blog post have probably already realized that the remote worker scale-up can't happen overnight. Obstacles likely include VPN capacity, VoIP capacity and remote number extension, and implementing stricter security measures such as multi-factor authentication (which we’ve been strongly recommending for a while). And, although many companies have been shifting their businesses to the cloud at an incredible rate, some are learning the hard way that for cloud-based applications, the key is elasticity. Not having the ability to spin up additional capacity in real time to meet unforeseen spikes in demand is a nightmare made real.