Toward the end of March 2023, I hosted a dozen senior IT leaders an executive lunch in Sydney, Australia. The theme of the discussion was "Productivity from anywhere" and the conversation centred on the challenges and opportunities associated with hybrid work and the changing role of IT in today’s economic environment.
There were many interesting points of view from across financial services, higher education, retail and healthcare. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event.
- Hybrid work is here to stay: The group agreed that hybrid work is here to stay, and building connections and effective communication remain critical for success. Despite the challenges of a hybrid work environment, employees share a common desire for social interaction in the workplace, underscoring the importance of establishing strong workplace connections and creating opportunities for social interaction to increase employee engagement and productivity. Interestingly, GoTo’s Chief Human Resources Officer recently wrote a blog about this that you can read here.
- Simplicity of technology solutions is critical: The group emphasised the need for simple and easy-to-implement solutions to reduce IT burden. When tools are simple and easy to use, there are fewer questions to the service desk. It was noted that enabling self-service for end users, whether working remotely or in the office, is critical.
- The Changing Role of IT and the importance of consolidation of tools: The group discussed the challenges in supporting hybrid working, as well as the importance of consolidation of tools and knowledge sharing between help desk and engineers. Echoing the findings from our recent Frost & Sullivan research, the group agreed that supporting hybrid working has increased IT workload (the report cites 3 in 5 organisations experienced an increase in IT workload in 2022. IT teams - or anyone taking on an IT function - lose time deploying new tools, assigning licenses, onboarding, porting data, and securing their workforce). You can read the key findings of the global report in this blog here.
- Employee engagement and experience are crucial to ongoing business success: The importance of setting employees up for success and creating a positive culture that encourages employees to be productive from anywhere was emphasized. Cross-functional collaboration was also discussed, as well as the importance of social interaction in the workplace. Some common activities included organising weekly team lunches and monthly cross-company gatherings to help combat employee disengagement.
- AI & the workplace: There were some interesting discussions being held during the networking before lunch, one of them was around AI (Chat GPT) and the workplace. It was noted that AI has the potential to enhance productivity and employee engagement, but it needs to be implemented thoughtfully. Here’s a great article written by one of our solutions consultants on “AI in the hybrid workplace” that I thought captured the essence of the conversations.
In conclusion, the executive lunch provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with hybrid work and the changing role of IT. It was a reminder of the importance of simplicity and collaboration in leveraging technology to increase employee - and customer - engagement in the new world of work.