The principal challenges facing executives during the digital transformation and post pandemic recovery are rooted in the unexpected changes that both have had on organisations.
- A rise in cyber-attacks, leveraging the supply chain and critical infrastructure.
- The unexpected desire for employees to continue working from home post pandemic.
- Unexpected rise in labor costs due to remote resources able to command salaries similar to higher priced geolocations.
- The evolution of attack vectors to include weakness in digital transformation initiatives.
- Workers operating outside of the confines of the office environment.
The realisation that no matter how much you spend or attempt to protect against a breach, it can and probably will still occur. The best recourse for executives is to have a sound plan for breach disclosure and clean-up versus focusing solely on protection.
Considering that there is a labor shortage and employees are choosing to leave their jobs versus returning to the office, executives should adapt to having a hybrid workforce. With this model, there are pros and cons:
- Lower cost due to the decrease in office space square footage costs
- Employee geolocation flexibility and obtaining the best talent possible
- Improved employee satisfaction when balancing work and home requirements
- Decrease in physical interactions which can lead to unexpected employee friction mainly through media like email
- Video conferencing fatigue
- Inability to monitor the security of home networks
There are a few organisations and cultural changes that are likely to succeed while supporting a hybrid workforce:
- Hosting frequent departmental meetings to provide interaction, and provide a feeling of inclusion.
- Providing easy to use resources that are cloud native to support a work from anywhere approach.
- Providing flexible hours and removing the burden of a 9am to 5pm, if the job role allows.
- Becoming task oriented in employee workstyles versus mandating that employees sit behind a desk.
- For some roles, other metrics like the number of support calls per day should be considered.
Going forward, there are a few new skills that top executives need to build in order to manage the business with a hybrid workforce. Look at these as all long-term traits that constantly need to be refined.
With the lack of physical contact, over communication from the executive team to all employees is critical to establish a sense of inclusion and ensure the mission of the business stays on track.
Everyone’s personal life is different and having empathy for their situation is critical. Being mindful and empathetic to these conditions helps build trust and ultimately a better employee.
It is very important to assume that all employees have a positive intent in their communications, work ethics, and responsibilities. It is a cultural change to assume employees are doing their best versus assuming that are abusing the time and work resources.
In my opinion, top executives are experiencing burn out from working from home for the same reasons as employees, too many hours spent on video calls, lack of physical interaction with colleagues, having to balance work and personal personas, plus the additional stress of being responsible for the business.
From a management perspective, however, there are a few lessons that can help mitigate the threat of burnout, both for employees and the executives themselves.
Set clear boundaries
Consider establishing simple rules of engagement for remote employees. This can include: Establishing acceptable hours for videoconference calls. Requesting that all employees’ cameras are enabled for videoconferencing. Requesting emails be sent only during business hours and make after-hour emails for emergencies only.
Providing flexibility for homeschooling or other personal requirements that do not burn into employee vacation.
Give employees technology they need
If your budget allows, you can also accelerate their laptop refreshment cycle to ensure all your employees have the best technology possible when working from home. Employees with good equipment generally are less frustrated and feel more valued when given the best equipment their companies can offer.
Break up the workweek
Breaking up the work-from-home monotony is essential without water cooler chitchat or upcoming travel on the calendar to break up the routine. Determine one day a week for employees to catch up on work. For example, establish No Meeting Thursdays.
Schedule virtual events to replicate normal office celebrations, such as work anniversaries, retirement, birthdays and holiday-themed events, like Halloween costume parties and gift exchanges. Switch to a flexible four-day workweek of 10 hours each day. Odds are, many remote employees are already putting in 10 hours a day at home anyway.
If funds are available, periodically reward employees using home delivery services for food or swag. Employees who would frequently go out to lunch are feeling social distress by not having this activity as a part of their work routine. Do not forget to ask or require employees to take vacation time. It may be a staycation, but everyone needs some downtime from the endless cycle.
Revamp human resources
An effective human resources department is vital to fighting burnout. They can embrace the health care plans for employees and send reminders to make sure everyone is aware and feel comfortable contacting any mental health services you provide. New employees can be especially overwhelmed by the lack of person-to-person contact when onboarding in a remote setting, and self-doubt can set in.
Some successful organisations have established the following additional onboarding operating procedures to ensure the process is productive: Establish a regular cadence of peer communications via email and videoconferencing to establish a comfort level and inclusion with their new team.
Establish a mentorship program for the new hire outside of their hiring manager to provide inclusion within the larger organisation. Ensure HR, IT and key personnel establish regular touchpoints with the new hire to gauge whether there are any issues. Create and maintain an ombudsman deck for new hires to help answer business questions that would normally be handled by in-person office staff.
- The realisation that no matter how much you spend or attempt to protect against a breach, it can and probably will still occur.
- With the lack of physical contact, over communication from the executive team to all employees is critical.
- Top executives are experiencing burn out from working from home for the same reasons as employees.
- Everyone’s personal life is different and having empathy for their situation is critical.
- Being mindful and empathetic to these conditions helps build trust and ultimately a better employee.
There are new skills that top executives need to build in order to manage the business with a hybrid workforce and these traits need to be refined.