Making a difference in the new hybrid workplace: A changing role for IT

Not everything went smoothly in the abrupt pivot to digital collaboration, but with time to regroup there are far better options for working remotely. What this comes down to for Jim Love, CIO and Chief Content Officer for ITWC, is a significantly expanded role for IT in the overall approach to work and productivity.

Acting as moderator for a December 2021 briefing titled How IT Can Support Employee Productivity & Retention, Love welcomed guests Holly Zhou, Product Marketing Manager of Video Collaboration for Logitech, and Toby Lewis, Logitech’s Collaboration Strategy Manager. Together, they looked at IT’s changing purview and the importance of technology during a global pandemic.

Watch on demand: “How IT Can Support Employee Productivity & Retention”

Other practical tips in the briefing were:

  • How to achieve a positive work-life balance;
  • How agile techniques impact project management;
  • New ways to manage work done asynchronously;
  • Understanding the new work environment; and
  • Bespoke approaches to meetings
A New Job Description for IT

Both Lewis and Zhou concurred that the scale and complexity of hybrid work has shunted some responsibilities from management to IT, with Zhou stressing the need for a collaborative effort. “In order to be most effective, they need to work hand-in-hand,” she said.

The difficulty in planning for a more cooperative strategy, according to Love, is that nobody is able to predict what the pandemic will bring. Still, he invited his guests to weigh in on what IT can do to enable a work-from-home environment. For Zhou, providing physical equipment, such as a laptop, was the tip of the iceberg; training and education related to devices and software were far more critical.

“Getting the technology in place is nice, but it’s the use cases that are actually more important,” agreed Lewis. “What we’ve been doing with some of our IT leaders is helping them work on user scenarios and use cases so they can train their teams on what works best for different kinds of meetings.”

The Pleasure Principle

Love raised the issue of security – a heightened concern when those working from home are using store-bought PCs and third party apps. Another challenge, he said, is keeping employees happy and engaged, while at the same time ensuring they observe security and compliance protocols.

In a novel take on best practices for security in hybrid work arrangements, Lewis recommended ensuring that the equipment supplied is a pleasure to use. In his experience, this negates many of the impediments to the safe adoption of technology.

Getting the Best of Both Worlds

Segueing to the topic of engaging the workforce, panelists looked at how IT can offer increased support for retaining workers. “How do we get the most out of both the at-home and in-office scenarios?” asked Zhou. “That’s where I think IT can play a major role in finding the right technology and driving the use of that technology.”

For Zhou and Lewis, the key to success is a stellar video conferencing platform and the tools and technology to best support a seamlessly easy user experience. Scribe, Logitech’s AI-powered whiteboard camera came in for some special attention from Zhou. She also shared a list of ‘must-haves’ that included high quality microphones, conference cameras, external webcams, video bars, touch controllers, and noise cancelling headphones.

“We can’t predict much of anything at the moment, but there’s one thing we do know,” said Lewis. “If you are having a meeting that involves six people, at least one of them is not going to be in the office.”

For more practical tips on how IT can promote a resilient, committed workforce and support business continuity, view How IT Can Support Employee Productivity & Retention.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Suzanne Robicheau
Suzanne Robicheau
Suzanne Robicheau is a communications specialist based in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where working remotely continues to fuel her passion for new mobile technologies -- especially on snowy days.

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