This is an edited version of an article originally published on: Forbes:How To Plan Your Organization’s New Flexible Tech Landscape
Al Kingsley is CEO of NetSupport, chair of a multi-academy trust in the UK, tech writer, speaker and author on EdTech.
In a relatively short amount of time, most companies have moved from being fully office-based to fully remote. Now, after listening to employees and learning from the experience of the last year or so, many businesses are preparing for and adapting to a new model of office/remote/hybrid working.
Technology is at the heart of this shift, and it’s going to mean that organizations will once again need to review their current IT portfolios, plans and procedures to ensure they can be adaptable enough to support staff moving between locations — but with the safeguards in place to ensure the company’s data remains secure.
Review Existing Technology
Auditing a company’s technology is a mammoth task, but, done well, it will sweep away lots of redundant legacy tech and associated processes — instead, providing a clean, streamlined base to work from. So, knowing the specifications of IT assets, their location and how often they are used is a great starting point. From here, decide which devices are to be upgraded, updated, repurposed or retired. Work out which solutions, processes and tech-related procedures currently work well — and which ones do not. Where it’s uncertain, ask the question: Would anyone notice if it were gone?
Security will need to be the cornerstone of any new technology setup for hybrid working, rather than added as a bolt-on afterward. Data will need to be fully protected regardless of the work location of any employee, so ensuring that security and encryption measures are considered from the start will reinforce their importance as discussions progress.
However, in the new hybrid working landscape, it’s not just a matter of providing the technology to get the job done. With any restructure or review of technology, a creative and forward-thinking company will debate how new developments can aid them in additional areas, such as ensuring easy connection, looking after employees’ well-being, better visibility and communication (not just across teams but the entire business), saving time, money and more.
On a technical level, IT managers will also think about choosing device-agnostic solutions, making data more accessible by using cloud storage where appropriate and providing flexible tools for employees to use wherever they are.
Get Input from Everyone
For new technology plans to be successful, there needs to be a broad discussion with input from everyone at every level of the business who uses technology in their day-to-day work. That’s right. Staff representatives from every area need to be involved, with barriers of hierarchy removed to give people the agency to contribute their thoughts and experiences.
Don’t Skip the Training
A critical strand of any organization’s technology refresh must be to incorporate time for training. Left to their own devices, virtually no employee will be able to find time to learn how to get the most out of any hardware or software. So training time must be provided by the company to maximize its investment and for staff to achieve familiarity with the technology.
It’s no longer enough to simply know what to click on to make things work; the objective for any organization’s smart use of technology needs to extend to an investment in its staff, to help them realize the full potential of the tech they use — and to apply it creatively. This way, the business can look to achieve a real impact in areas such as production, communication, logistics, administration and so on.
Of course, training costs money. And just as a benchmark to consider, schools I have worked with on digital strategy found that allocating similar budgets to both the purchase of technology and the provision of professional training was the right balance to be effective. This is useful information for businesses. Seeing those costs laid out on paper can be off-putting, but it’s a false economy to skip it. By doing so, you risk reducing both the impact and potential benefits that any new systems can deliver.
By keeping everyone informed, the lines of communication open, reviewing existing technology and making evidence-based decisions on new solutions, business leaders can be confident that they are making the right choices as they form their digital strategies and ensuring that they are investing in scalable tech that will flex, regardless of the twists and turns their new working landscape may take. Because, as we’ve just lea=rned, the future is never set in stone.