CIOs have naturally been on the front lines of their company’s pandemic response, primarily from a technology perspective to enable remote work, but also from a safety standpoint as well as productivity and culture.
Recently, I hosted a group of CIOs for a discussion on the topic. Joining me was my Centric colleague, Deb Peluso, co-lead of our People and Change practice. Deb shared interesting insights on re-shaping organizations in these turbulent times as well as perspectives and anecdotes from clients around the country.
The consensus from the CIOs in the discussion was that they were on the right side of the graphic below — the technology works, digital processes held up, productivity is better than expected, and teams have improved their collaboration.
Attendees expected big projects to be more difficult in an environment like this, notably a large ERP upgrade that one CIO cited. For those large, complex and extended time-frame projects, in-person communication seems to work best. But, he’s also finding that the generation behind his (and ours) is much more adept at social activities fostered by technology.
Here are a few of the items we discussed.
- Centric sees a definite trend among clients broadening their talent pool by looking for out of market or remote workers.
- The CIOs voiced a little concern over protecting their staff from out-of-market companies as that trend grows. There were no concrete actions or planning at this point.
- A few of the companies among these CIOs are dipping their toes into the water of hiring remote workers. Examples include individual contributors and thought leaders.
- We also see downward pressure on salaries due to a relative abundance of talent, and as an expected result of that practice — increased short-term turnover or lily-padding.
- The consensus among this group was to avoid low-balling new hires and continue to pay fairly for experience and capabilities.
- Managing staff expectations is a much bigger challenge than managing the technology. There’s a vast continuum of expectations among staff members.
- A lot of energy goes into return to office planning, and it might not be worth the effort, considering the likelihood of extended remote work. Unfortunately, it’s probably unavoidable.
- Leaders among their staff are emerging during this upheaval by demonstrating adaptability, creativity and effective problem-solving skills in a unique environment.
- One-third of US adults report stress, anxiety, or sadness since the outbreak, and caregivers are feeling it heavily. Forty percent of US households have children under 18, and 60 percent of caregivers are employed.
- Anecdotally, one CIO concurred, noting that the company’s employee assistance program (EAP), call volume has gone through the roof.
- 75 percent of current remote workers expect their employers to continue to offer that flexibility as the pandemic passes.
- Employees find making time for status updates that are personal focused and not business-related is invaluable. More than one CIO has set standing meetings with direct reports to do just that.
- Some companies are planning and hoping to harness the energy and momentum from their successful transition to other innovation opportunities within the company.
- An emerging trend in customer expectations — a more personal experience in the transaction and support. Interpersonal restrictions in everyday life are fueling that trend.
Technology executives can sometimes focus on the process and technology of the classic people-process-technology approach to IT. Successful CIOs and IT leaders ensure they’re putting much more emphasis on people, though, not just as it relates to tech deployment or management but also on their teams as individuals with unique needs in these unique times.
As my colleague, Deb Peluso said, “IT plays a critical role in ensuring their organizations continue not just to survive but thrive during these uncertain times. When IT teams have a clear line of sight to both the top business imperatives as well as the state of employee health, well-being and engagement, they can apply their expertise to drive strategic execution and value delivery where and when the business, and employees, need it most.”