Challenging times and systems to help

Author:
Derek Renouf
Chief Technology Officer
Holocentric

LinkedIn Profile

There has been a lot of change needed in workplaces over the last 2 years with the global pandemic and it is unlikely that the “old normal” will ever return. From current news, our experience and a recent study1 , we are experiencing a major shift in the way people work and interact with others, and this shift looks like it could be with us permanently. There’s been an increasing need to work full time from home for extended periods and there is a growing consensus that hybrid working arrangements will be the new norm. 

Multi Sector Impact
Technology has become the enabler and facilitator of this change. An example of this is the acceleration of cloud computing to cater for remote working requirements. We have seen an increase in outsourced workers for industry sectors, especially in the field of IT Quality Assurance and Software Development, but now we are seeing many industries have their core personnel working remotely. This change can be observed in fields beyond IT including Legal, Government, Finance, and Healthcare.  

Cloud and Software Support
Desktop PCs were once in abundance tied to corporate LANs, and people turned up to an office each day, yet now there has been a shift towards use of notebooks and mobile devices with VPN access. Collaborative software such as Office 365, Teams, Zoom, Slack and Google-style of services now are tools used each day and organisations have increasingly embraced SaaS offerings over on-premises solutions to reduce costs and provide a modernised experience. 

Security Risks
Cyber Security is increasingly becoming important not only because of the distribution of staff and need to access the cloud with daily activities, but because of the upheaval that is taking place now in the world with increasingly hostile state-sponsored hacking activities. Our Government issued direct warnings2  to businesses about this threat and a string of public hackings is a visible warning of the consequences of an attack. 

Staff Movement
There is talk of a “great resignation”3 , especially in the USA, which increasingly seems like a reshuffle in many workplaces, with the “grass being greener on the other side” accounting for regret in the majority of cases4. Organisations need to accommodate new ways to work so that systems are still effective and secure, and people can not only cope but flourish, giving them new opportunities. Failure to do so appears to have been the cause of dissatisfaction and job mobility. 

We can’t simply expect people to cope with change without the systems and management changing as well. Understanding what’s required to be done and a sense of purpose is important because it helps people deliver not only what’s expected, but to feel that they are contributing to something greater adding meaning to their effort.  

Role Clarity and Responsibilities
At the most basic level people should be aware of what they need to do from day-to-day, their current obligations, including working in a secure way, and how this contributes to the organisational goals. To accomplish this, people need clarity on their position in the organisation and access to relevant information that is kept up to date. If this is not addressed, remote and hybrid working arrangements will only exacerbate a sense of confusion, resulting in ineffective work, a higher level of dissatisfaction, and increased risk of non-compliance. With remote and hybrid work in place there is far less opportunity to “sort it out in the office” and this is where systems are needed to help clarify things along the way. 

Business Management System
Having a system in place to help capture, consume, and maintain operational documentation makes compliance activities much easier to cope with. Think of an analogy of our body: activities that are learned well can become part of our sub-conscious so that continuing to perform them consistently is easier and done with little effort. Similarly, these systems can help us perform compliance obligations as part of the organisational sub-conscious.  

At Holocentric, we have our own Business Management System to clarify our positions with related policies, process, and controls to ensure we have our governance obligations covered. Ideally, this becomes part of the DNA of the organisation, so it’s more ingrained. People have ownership of this material and are accountable for operational activity. However, we constantly need to maintain this, we well as adjust strategy, set goals, establish ongoing roadmaps, and schedule activities. Communication is essential to coordinate work and instil a sense of purpose. 

Driving towards better outcomes
Change is never easy, as it can involve procedural, planning, coordination, and there are even emotional components that should not be overlooked. People can have their own unique needs that an organisation is sensitive to and at the same time must chart a course forward to keep the organisation functioning well. Having systems in place to help people understand where and how they can contribute, in the context of a shift to hybrid working arrangements and increasing cyber security, can help both people and the organisations arrive at better outcomes. 
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