Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) are at the forefront of efforts to safely resume normal commercial operations after COVID-19. As a result, they play a large role in deciding how the transition to normal work conditions takes place.
CTOs must consider not only what challenges they must overcome, but also what impact their actions have on employee morale and public image.
We’ve put our heads together to come up with five essential steps CTOs need to take to ace the recovery process. If you aren’t a CTO, do your best to make sure your CTO is aware of these steps and implementing them successfully.
1. Solidify Your Company’s Remote Network
If your employees are not yet fully back at the office, now is the time to consolidate your company’s remote working options and remote log-in security. Of course, you can (and should) do this at any time- but when at least some of the workforce remains at home, you can test and refine the infrastructure you put in place. If employees need to work from home in the future, then, you will know that your network can accommodate them.
How exactly do you strengthen your network? A first step is to put a unified endpoint management solution in place. This will let you secure, update, and repair devices remotely- using a framework that can integrate almost any kind of device from any manufacturer.
In regards to strengthening communication, integrating services like Slack alongside traditional email can be useful. By giving employees the ability to break out into individual groups with Slack, while still being tuned in to company-wide messages, you can lay the groundwork for fruitful collaboration remotely and in-person.
2. Explicitly Allocate Responsibilities and Establish a Chain of Command
Have you ever heard of diffusion of responsibility? If multiple people share some responsibility for the same task, each person will assume that someone else will take responsibility, and no one completes the task. Especially when working remotely, CTOs and other executives must safeguard against this happening, as the consequences of failing to address issues relating to COVID-19 are dire.
CTOs need to establish a clear chain of command, such that each person knows exactly what his or her responsibilities are. For instance, one employee may be responsible for ensuring that every company-owned device has enrolled in your company’s mobile device management solution, while another ensures that each device has the same set of apps installed.
3. Make the Re-Entry Process Collaborative…
Given that at the time of writing many regions loosening lockdown restrictions are still experiencing high rates of COVID-19 infection, this is an enormously stressful time for frontline workers. CTOs need to realize that they can use technology to mitigate some of this stress. In particular, technology can reframe the re-entry process as a team project, rather than a mandate from sheltered executives to at-risk frontline workers.
What exactly does a collaborative process look like in this context? It means making sure that everyone’s concerns are acknowledged before returning to work. For example, this could involve company conference calls between executives and employees, or integrating polling apps into Slack.
This is not to say that every request can be met, of course. But acknowledging that the request was made can go a long way towards engaging those who would otherwise resent returning to work.
4. … But Use Your Authority to Keep People Accountable
As a CTO, your role is to ensure that any signs of illness upon returning to work are immediately recognized- and an honor system isn’t enough. If handled well, this will not alienate employees. After all, a collaborative return to work after sheltering-in-place is a two-way street; CTOs and other executives listen to their employees to implement the precautions they request, and in return, employees strictly comply with the rules those executives put in place.
Some technologies that businesses may use for accountability include temperature-monitoring kiosks, (potentially controversial) contact-tracing apps, and self-report journal apps. Making clear that failure to comply will result in severe consequences is important. The more rigidly you enforce these rules, the more quickly customers will trust your firm and resume normal interactions with frontline workers.
5. Prepare for Another Pandemic
The investments that you make now should not be short-term fixes that buy your company time to resume normal business operations. Given dismaying predictions from a number of experts, employees may need to resume working from home in the near future.
An example of a short-term necessity with long-term utility is containerization on employees’ personal devices. This lets employees work on their devices without the risk of work data leaking; in return, the enterprise cannot access or alter personal information on the devices. Implementing this kind of “bring-your-own-device” (or BYOD) system now will make it easy to return to it in the event working at home becomes necessary
Although industries like retail found ways to survive during the pandemic, now is the time when they prepare to thrive. Companies need to hit the ground running the instant that they reopen, and this requires that employees, workers, and executives all understand and work together to provide the best experience possible for patrons.
42Gears sees CTOs at work and recognizes their current position is a difficult one. 42Gears can provide advice tailored to your firm, in addition to the advice we’ve given here. We are more than happy to talk with you about your unique needs and figure out how to keep your workforce as safe as possible while returning to the workplace.