Boxing legend Mike Tyson famously said, ‘everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.’ If your organization is like many others, a worldwide pandemic that sent your employees home for several months was not a part of your formal contingency or business continuity plans. This unprecedented situation has caused many organizations to scramble to find ways to stabilize and recover.
At the beginning of COVID-19, many businesses shifted to a remote work environment quickly without any time to prepare. Your plan for returning to work can be more efficient. This planning should be strategically executed, with all aspects of your IT environment considered.
An efficient return to work (RTW) plan takes into consideration all the variables and guidance surrounding the ‘new normal’ to get your organization ‘back in the ring.’ There are many considerations to help shape your preparedness checklist before employees, customers, members, or stakeholders return to the office.
As a preliminary step, check the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make sure your IT structure can support those efforts as the pandemic evolves. Evaluate the health requirements for your employees and address any customer concerns by including current CDC information in your RTW plan.
The following five tips are examples of areas to consider when putting together your plan of attack:
1. Evaluate Facility Readiness:
Not every company has systems or alerts to notify them of the operational status of their office. Your IT staff or provider should be one of the first to return to your facility (while taking appropriate precautions, e.g., PPE, safe distance) to guarantee that all IT resources are functioning.
2. Check IT Support Readiness:
Set the stage for success. Working remote can cause issues that only arise upon return to the office. Create a list of your expected IT roadblocks when returning to the office. For example:
- Passwords may be mis-synced or expired
- Virus definitions may need to be updated
- Scans may need to run on computers
- Phones may need to be un-forwarded
3. Ensure IT Leadership Readiness:
Part of a successful RTW plan is preparing for more than just the operational aspects of returning to the office. Embody leadership by integrating health guidelines into your IT plans. Take time to focus on educating and empowering your employees.
4. Monitor Your Game Plan:
Keep a pulse on the data that is available to you and strive to collect data that you think could bring you valuable insights. Modify your plan to meet the evolving needs of your organization and be responsive to the CDC and local guidance when it changes.
5. Evaluate and Make Necessary Adjustments:
Analyze the data available to you and determine what it indicates about how your RTW plan is going. Consider these three data points:
- Technology’s Impact on Organizational Response: Grade your pandemic response at a high-level by reviewing your business’s reaction and how IT impacted (and was impacted by) this response.
- Opportunities for Fully Leveraging Technology: A considerable number of organizations have experienced revenue loss due to the pandemic. It is easy to fall into the trap of viewing technology as a “cost center” rather than an asset in need of effective leveraging. The job of a responsible IT leader is to identify new opportunities for technology to help your organization adapt in the long-term and leverage the new normal.
- Flexibility in IT Spending Considering Other Savings: Some lucky organizations saw unexpected cost-savings as a small silver lining to the pandemic response. Rather than view IT spending as increasing and other costs as shrinking, organizations have the option of being more flexible in their approach.
Once the smoke clears and your organization has completed its RTW activities, you are ready to look seriously at the post-fight highlight reels and convert lessons learned into action plans to use in the future. Your lessons learned should reflect insights into how IT has aligned with the business considering the pandemic and how it should reflect in your organization’s budget.
I want to point out that as an IT Department, your function is to not only support the organization but to help lead. Your organization’s competition has pivoted and re-innovated the way they do business. This shift is going to help their plans for disruptions in your respected space. Your organization will either lead that change and force a culture of openness to new ways of doing things, follow their lead, or get out of the way.
I hope your return to work is a smooth one, and your plan for moving your organization forward is a fruitful one.
Reach out to our Strategic Consulting team for more IT guidance from our experts.
Download the full white paper produced by my team: Return to Work: IT Edition