Working from home is no longer reserved for the select few! It’s here to stay across the global enterprise and is the new normal for the entire workforce and customer base. CEO’s and CIO’s are being forced to re-frame and broaden IT service delivery to include remote constituencies now for all functions as an addition to a permanent work environment. As such, fundamental IT strategies and policies need to evolve and expand to predictably deliver this new norm as needed. While IT organizations are suddenly scrambling to provide the basics for core operational services now, the CEO and CIO shouldn’t lose sight of what they’re trying to achieve in the long run.
The foundational building blocks for a repeatable, predictable, and secure remote service delivery requires more discipline in administration. The idea of a Work from Home (WFH) Hierarchy of Needs comes to mind (yes, mirroring Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for successful, thriving human survival). This hierarchical notion lays the foundations for a business to flourish in these challenging times. The WFH Hierarchy is divided into five service categories, the first four of which are reactive in nature. These four reactive services build on each other and require flawless operation of the underlying services. If any of these four service layers are not performing predictably, we set the organization into an internal reactionary state of break/fix. The fifth layer in the WFH Hierarchy allows for proactive, productive, and innovative operations and experiences to occur across all constituencies. These service hierarchies are fundamental and not unique. It might be helpful to think about what the ultimate remote work environment(s) will require to achieve an innovative and productive business culture. The hierarchy looks like this:
Layer 1 – CONNECTION / DEVICES AND SERVICES
The foundation of working from home is network and digital connection to the internal and external enterprise. These devices and services are table stakes. Without them, no productivity or communication can occur. CEO’s and CIO’s now need to think of these as the elements of their KTLO services (bandwidth, devices (laptop, phones, sensors, etc.)) as solutions which extend beyond a company’s physical headquarters, campus and offices. How is bandwidth provisioned to the home? Is access required to on-premise data? If so, perhaps a VPN is necessary. Even if companies have cloud-based solutions there may be a need to supplement bandwidth to the remote site.
Layer 2 – SECURITY
Security practices and awareness are even more critical when working off-premise. Security communications and practices need to stress the criticality of protecting the company’s brand, data, customers and employees. Policies need to encompass remote work behaviors. For example, two factor authentication needs to be a standard process for anyone accessing even a minimal amount of privileged data. Video conferencing and audio-conferencing practices must enforce identification of all parties to prevent unauthorized access and/or data breaches. Is the remote work-space private or shared? If anything is shared, does it make sense for the company to provision dedicated devices/services for the employee?
Layer 3 – SOFTWARE AND TOOLS
Software in all companies depends upon the business functions it supports. For the most part, many companies run their software and tools with cloud providers or on-premise (or a mix of both). But what about legacy solutions? Many of these solutions were designed for use within the confines of a physical site(s), not over the internet. This may be a time to sunset these apps or prioritize them for transformation.
Social media. This topic deserves a book unto itself. As WFH is here to stay, however, so is the use of social media in business functions. Are the organization’s standards and policies refreshed to help the employees use social media effectively without compromising themselves or the company? This is a time when using social media can shine. For example, apps like Twitter can be used to extend your customer and employee outreach. What about TikTok?
Layer 4 – BASIC PRODUCTIVITY / GENERATING BUSINESS
It’s at this level that your operating metrics need to expand to include the enforcement of WFH practices and policies. Your employees and customers approach their work efforts assuming that all supporting layers are scaled appropriately and operating flawlessly and predictably. How do you measure that? How can you give more of these measurements proactively to the employee for them to improve upon?
Layer 5 – EVOLVE / INNOVATE
Yes, even though we’re all working remotely, innovation is likely happening faster than ever before. When all of the reactive services outlined above are present and humming along, a new normal occurs in technology delivery. These are the table stakes in the enterprise environment that the employee and customer base come to expect. It’s at this point, where evolution and innovation can and will occur (podcasts anyone?). The environment is now established such that employees and customers can create, evolve and innovate more freely.
That’s no longer something that IT-only will do. It’s this pro-active state that reassures the customer base and employees that business can now flourish. For CEO’s and CIO’s, this is the prize….
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