4 Post-Pandemic Takeaways for CEOs and Technology Leaders
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
As a global pandemic threatened to engulf the world, business and IT leaders immediately reacted. They moved entire workforces to home offices. They adjusted their business models. They learned to manage new ways of working in a challenging economic environment.
While the crisis is far from over, the initial scramble has passed. Now’s the time for leaders to reflect on what happened and consider how to better prepare for the future. Here are four takeaways:
- Re-consider what really matters: people
The pandemic highlighted the need to focus on the most important business asset: people.
As people continue to manage home and remote working environments, organizations will increasingly make permanent and hybrid remote working part of their corporate policy. Indeed, according to a PwC survey, 83 percent of workers would like to work remotely at least one day a week and 77 percent of business leaders said shifting their workforces to home offices has been a success.
At Logicalis, we are embracing the flexible work model and the advantages that it brings, from fewer geographical restrictions to hiring a more diverse workforce.
At the same time, having employees isolated from their teams and carrying out their daily responsibilities without in-person support has resulted in more stress and burnout. Individual mental health has also suffered during the pandemic.
Recognizing that mental health is just as vital as physical health, we’re adopting a more empathetic, people-first approach and implementing policies that focus on employee well-being.
For example, we’re finding new and engaging ways to communicate with our colleagues, beyond video calls and emails, to ensure our teams feel more connected and supported. We’re also setting clear boundaries for employees to ensure “work time” does not take precedence over “personal time.”
2. Re-inspire employees to create
There’s another valuable gift that executives can give employees during this crisis: inspiration.
Inspiring employees to create, contribute, and cooperate not only positively impacts their well-being, it impacts the company and even society at large.
For example, in May, Logicalis launched its Global Innovation Challenge to encourage our teams to devise innovations that can bring about positive change to the world. Not only has it brought our people together, it’s allowed employees to explore their creativity and make them feel part of something bigger at a time where it’s easy to feel isolated.
3. Rethink business continuity and disaster recovery
Most organizations had business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plans in place. They were well prepared for a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
But a pandemic? Gartner recently found that just 12 percent of organizations were prepared for a global pandemic and its impact on business continuity.
Business continuity inherently implies adaptability. Organizations must agilely adjust and quickly pivot in response to emerging crises and changing business conditions.
BC/DR plans, therefore, must also be adaptable. For example, many plans focused on local site outages and physical data loss due to natural disasters or terrorist attacks. In these scenarios, recovery plans rightly focused on migrating data or failing over to another site following the loss of a primary location.
The presumption, of course, is that there will always be an alternative functional site. But what happens when all sites are inaccessible? The pandemic forced us to consider this possibility.
Businesses need to prepare for “all of the above” scenarios that not only take down the entire company, but potentially vital resources like public transportation or the power grid. That requires new provisions like location-independent data, applications, and personnel.
4. Reinvent the IT status quo
Finally, now is the time to think beyond what was formerly possible to what is now possible. Supporting new business models or new ways of working from home requires a flexible, modern IT environment with robust unified communication capabilities and secure mobile components.
For example, prior to the U.S. declaring a public health emergency (PHE) on January 31, 2020, there were about weekly 14,000 telehealth visits, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That number grew to over 10.1 million—an average of more than 630,000 weekly visits—from mid-March through early-July.
As telehealth evolves, healthcare providers large and small will require technology platforms to be wholly integrated for an uninterrupted flow of patient data, whether it’s an in-person visit, a telehealth consult, or some other type of touchpoint.
In addition, as organizations become more open to permanent or hybrid remote work models, they’ll need their infrastructures to agilely scale or support a remote workforce. To enable the desired business outcomes, their infrastructures must have security and compliance built in, appropriate policies and governance for resilient and reliable performance, high availability to ensure business continuity, and easy management across the environment.
While it’s been challenging, there are some positives I see resulting from this crisis:
- Global workforces have become more intimate with their colleagues, customers, and partners.
- Insights into employees’ homes and family life—like seeing families and pets over video conferencing—has deepened the human connection.
- Organizations are becoming increasingly comfortable with change and adapting to change on the fly.
As Architects of Change™, our ability to use technology to help our customers respond to change and support social advancement has never been more critical than it is today. The past is instructive, yet we look forward to ensuring that our customers don’t repeat the mistakes from the past.
Jon Groves is CEO of Logicalis U.S.