Gartner recently conducted a survey of 127 company leaders representing HR, legal, compliance, finance and real estate – the findings showed that 82% of respondents plan to allow employees to continue to work remotely at least some of the time – but what will be needed to manage the more complex, hybrid workforce of the future?
The CTO’s Perspective
Simon Pamplin, technical director at Silver Peak, says businesses will need to update their infrastructure to solve remote user application and network challenges while simultaneously achieving other business objectives. Simon explains:
“Accommodating attitudes in upper management alone will not determine whether a company thrives or struggles in this new normal. Organisations must also look to the infrastructures that support company operations, which will be under pressure to support a distributed workforce.
“When it comes to the network, the primary challenge is in connecting this workforce to business-enabling applications and services residing in the data centre and the cloud. Some users require access to voice of internet protocol (VoIP) systems, virtual desktops and video conferencing that require fast and highly reliable network connections. For example, a company that had 50 branch offices before lockdown, must now grapple with the idea that every user, and their home network, is a new branch they have to support, representing an exponential increase in the number of sites.
“Critical to meeting this challenge will be in employing advanced network solutions that can effectively prioritise application use that is integral to efficient operations. In assessing whether or not their organisations can cope, business leaders should ensure their networks meet an essential set of criteria. Namely:
- can they segment users into categories so that all remote users have reliable access to on-network applications;
- do ‘power’ users have direct and secure access to cloud services and real-time applications that have unique requirements, such as voice and video; and,
- do ‘power’ users have access to high-throughput applications that require additional performance, such as software development, large data applications and medical imaging.
If the current network cannot meet one or all of these advanced criteria, then the organisation will struggle throughout this upcoming period, where much of the workforce may well remain distributed for the foreseeable future.”
It is clear that for hybrid working to succeed long term, getting the right network and software in place will be critical – but is this purely a tech decision?
How should HRDS respond?
Award winning CEO and HR Director Coach, Peter Ryding, believes that senior HR leaders must get actively involved in tech discussions at an early stage, and cannot simply expect the CTO to adopt remote working solutions that employees will find usable. He explains:
“Tech and infrastructure upgrades will be critical to the success of remote working, but for too long, other directors (including the CEO) have typically left tech decisions to the CTO, assuming they must understand every role within the company and what each employee and the business needs.
“In reality, tech leaders have far less contact with other employees, other directors close their ears to tech conversations and the result is frustrated employees, an isolated CTO and an unhappy, much maligned tech support team. With a remote workforce, any discord is concerning, especially when tech talent is hard to find.
“HR leaders don’t need to know the ins and outs of tech, but as the ‘human’ voice in the boardroom they should have an understanding of how tech decisions will impact everyone on the ground and should collaborate with CTOs at an early stage, while also acting as the link between the CTO and the rest of the boardroom.
The CTO always asks for a big tech budget, the HRD should understand where the costs come from rather than view it as a necessary evil that ‘nobody really understands’.
“This will improve harmony in the boardroom and the company and represents an opportunity to further the strategic value of the HR Director role. It also increases the chances of getting tech adopted successfully by their employees.