Episode Seven Short Features
Culture Will Change Workplace Computing
In a post pandemic enterprise, culture combined with flexible technology will deliver new results.
Beyond 2020 the workplace and enterprise computing will change completely. The Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has radically changed healthcare, the global economy and the course of digital transformation, CEO Graeme Watt and CIO Community Editor Mark Chillingworth believe. For business technology leaders this will result in a new style of leadership.
Working from home remained a minority sport until the spring of 2020 when, having ignored major warning signals from Asia, governments across the world had to close down their nations and insist on a lock down. Overnight bustling markets were dormant, busy office blocks silent and congested carriageways clear. For the world’s office working population their jobs moved from a skyscraper to the kitchen, spare room and more often than not, was shared with the rest of family as they tried to attend school - remotely - or seek a new job. The change to remote working was sudden, but largely worked. “People have been sheep dipped into 100% home working, at no notice and they have been exposed to the technology and its benefits,” says Graeme Watt, CEO of Softcat, a major IT infrastructure provider. “Those organizations that had already adopted a mobile and cloud-first approach to their workplace technologies were much less disrupted than those using on-premise technologies.”
“Innovation, flexibility and agile working are close cousins and those who have adopted these technologies and approaches have survived well and have in place the tools to recover in the economy they now face,” adds Mark Chillingworth, a CIO Editor and commentator. Watt adds that Softcat was not a significantly remote working business, but had the technology in place.
The Workplace Beyond 2020
“Organizations will now need to take a people centric approach to the design of the workspace because the pandemic has created a greater sense of community and we all find ourselves being more empathetic,” Watt says of how business culture will change over the course of this year. Watt believes we have to ask ourselves what the need and value is of the office and as a CEO he will question himself on what he needs to provide his team members with, make sure that the technology is a great experience, but also that the organization still has strong control over the security.
“We will be working out what times our people should be in the office, and what should we do for that? And all of this will give us a better business continuity plan. It will involve more interactive management of the workforce and their wellbeing.”
Whether team members are in the office, travelling to see clients or home working, CIO Community Editor Chillingworth believes that organizational culture will be more important than ever and just as Watt has seen organizations struggle because they didn’t have the technology, Chillingworth believes businesses with poor culture have struggled with the pandemic too. “You have to create a great atmosphere so people want to come into work - the chemical and oil firms had that in the 1960s and today many of the digital companies do,” he says. “Hold your culture dear,” adds Watts. “One of the things that makes Softcat stand out from the crowd is that we put a lot of focus on our people and our culture.
“We have a collective energy and our people learn from one another both formally and informally,” Watt says of the culture he has to retain in a virtual office environment. That means providing the team with the tools to be effective he says and also making sure people have fun; going on to explain the value of office parties and quizzes - digitally.
Chillingworth believes that the cultural change accelerated by the pandemic will also bring about business advantages as it breaks the cord with the office and will enable workers to spend more time with clients and getting a better understanding of their needs in their locations.