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Putting the Employee Experience at the Forefront of Remote Work Strategy



In a study performed in September 2020 of 2,234 workers in three countries, Forrester researchers found that 31% reported their mental health had suffered in the pandemic; 37% felt like they were ‘working harder now than I did before the pandemic’, and 58% had a ‘clear sense of what it will take’ to continue working through the pandemic.

A future of inspired, fulfilling remote work that is mutually beneficial to the organization and to the employees requires a sharpened focus on employee experience (EX). The EX spills over into every aspect of the organization’s internal and external image and energy — and customers are also acutely aware of whether or not employees are happy in their roles. 

With knowledge work on the rise and a next normal around the corner, Forrester hosted a webinar with VP and Research Director Matthew Guarini and Principal Analyst David Johnson to discuss elements that tech leaders must consider for executing a successful EX-remote work strategy.

Key Findings

  • Employee experience and remote work is nuanced along the lines of human psychology – and factoring science into strategy – it includes a technology dimension, social dimension, and behavioral dimension.
  • Create a positive and engaging work environment for what employees experience every single day with consideration for how to help people feel motivated and engaged; providing an equal experience for those who are remote.
  • Employees that are satisfied with collaboration technologies and are able to access task-critical information that they need to do their jobs effectively are less likely to experience burnout and are more engaged overall.
  • Be careful of biases and disadvantaged people in remote scenarios. Not feeling recognized for contributions impacts employee morale and retention. To proactively address this potential issue, create a recognition and reward system — bringing people into the circle sooner and providing constructive and supportive feedback.
  • Consider systems of employee support and systems of work (i.e., the things we rely on to get our jobs done each day). Tech investments that lead to engagement payoffs include experimenting with virtual worlds where people can go and collaborate and share ideas or virtual whiteboards. These “increase the richness with which we can communicate visually and otherwise,” says Johnson.
  • Communicate with empathy and care to promote trust and engagement. Employees want to feel remote work is a viable strategy and that there’s buy-in to make it supportive and worthwhile. This will also support hiring/recruitment and retention. 

The overall experience of remote work to-date is a mixed bag with interesting findings around trust and communications. Organizations that consider technology, social, and behavioral dimensions have the greatest chance of benefiting from employee engagement, recruitment, and retention.  Global business futures are deeply intertwined with remote work and the Knowledge Age. Finding ways to integrate creativity, adaptivity, and resilience will build a foundation for rewarding work experiences.

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IT Leadership Blog

Are Your Digital Initiatives Maintaining Their Momentum?



Catalyzed during the pandemic, digital transformation ramped up at wildly unimaginable speeds. Companies raced to respond to internal and external demand, prioritizing IT and coalescing quickly on digital projects. As the pandemic eases and we shift into a post-Covid mentality, the pace of new and existing initiatives will need to be sustained to capture the many gains made in 2020. An executive mindset focused on the value of IT and strategically addressing financial pressures around it, created an ecosystem for long-lasting change to take root.

Expectations around innovation, security, and privacy, and business alignment are top-of-mind challenges that CIOs face today. In a new ebook by Gartner, Kristin Moyer, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner CEO and Digital Business Leader Practice dive into what companies will need to prioritize to sustain digital momentum.

Key take-aways from “Sustain your digital momentum”:

The objective is to discover how to continue accelerating digital transformation in 2021 and beyond. “If the pandemic disruption has taught one lesson, it’s that organizations operating with legacy infrastructure and analog processes will struggle to meet the expectations of customers who’ve been forced to go digital,” writes Moyer.


Organizations sped up initiatives to drive crisis response. “Digital acceleration” is the faster progress using data and technology to optimize and transform an enterprise organization — it is focused on enhancing customer engagement, generating new revenue, and serving customers through the digital channels they choose to use.

Four digital business accelerators:

  1. Win differently by pursuing new customers and sources of demand revealed by the pandemic.
  2. Unleash force multiplier through empowering momentum with business model innovation, workshop, or external (e.g., an acquisition).
  3. Banish drags by removing the negative forces that add friction to the business.
  4. Redirect resources from areas like travel, entertainment, or real estate and redeploy them to digital priorities.

To organize areas to accelerate and where to invest, Moyer recommends prioritizing according to strategic intention in a “portfolio model.” This model includes a “Fast Lane,” “Growth Lane,” “Fix-It Lane,” “Slow Lane,” and “Exit Lane.”

Culture must also be considered. “Culture hacks” must be initiated to be more receptive to the accelerating change because digital is a business and cultural approach. One way to make progress is to “default to positive” like starting every meeting by talking about what’s working. In addition, culture shifts can include creating a new employment deal, championing agile learning, and empowering business technologists. 

Digital acceleration can be maintained by taking these three steps:

  1. Pause, discuss and document the progress made on your digital plans.
  2. Evaluate what adjustments are required to maintain or accelerate digital plans.
  3. Teach the organization what needs to be done differently.

As is the case in all new pursuits, especially those riding the wave of fundamental change, digital acceleration will take some fine-tuning to get just right. CIOs and IT leaders should take proactive steps now to sustain and fuel digital transformation’s next phase in a post-Covid world.

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IT Leadership Blog

Will We Be Better at Wellness After the Pandemic?



‘You’re going to be happy,’ said life, ‘but first I’ll make you strong.’” – Paulo Coehlo

Personal transformation is a big topic for me. I love the idea of change and possibility especially as it pertains to individual pursuits and evolution. At the beginning of 2020, I decided to dedicate more time to seeking adventures, travel, and ideas in the spirit of holistic mind-body-health wellness. 

But 2020, as we all know from personal experience, had its own plans. It put into stark relief both our human fragility and our inherent resilience. Loss of both tangibles and intangibles accompanied each day. Yet, we collectively found new ways to transform and evolve ourselves and our environments to find wellness in unlikely places and unique spaces.

“I have been pondering lately, “Will we be better at wellness after the pandemic?”

Physical Activity Took On New Forms 

My garage has become a fitness sanctuary, which was never my plan for it. I’ve dedicated a 6-foot by 10-foot section of space for a bench, plates, and a hex bar. The commute from Zoom calls to fitness activities is 30 seconds long. It is a plan created out of necessity.

According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, at the beginning of 2020, the U.S. had around 40,000 health clubs that generated upwards of $35 billion in annual revenue. By the end of last year, the industry had lost $20.4 billion and 17% of clubs were closed permanently. 

When gyms closed early last year and even after re-opening (with the fear of breathing in enclosed spaces with others), it became imperative to find new ways to get moving in and around the home. Health companies took notice and found ways to amplify these sessions with interactive products and services (look no further than Peloton and its meteoric 172% sales increase).

Mental Health Services Took On Focus and New Dimensions

Digital health services and telemedicine accelerated as statistics around anxiety and depression concurrently rose. Living through a global pandemic can knock the wind out of one’s sails in a whole bunch of ways. 

The necessity of finding solutions for widespread mental health support changed healthcare options and brought more awareness to how daily activities and practices could compound into long-term self-care and wellness. This can be especially said for meditation and mindfulness.

Meditation and mindfulness practices have the power to support healthcare professionals, patients, carers, and the general public during times of crisis, the National Health Institute reported in the early months of the pandemic. “Underlying each of the different meditation techniques is a simple coming to awareness of the present moment. Being aware of what is happening in the present moment allows the individual to observe what is arising and what is falling away. By doing this and by allowing thoughts to come and go without attachment, without trying to hold on to them, we learn that calm and stillness follows. We come to know our own minds over time and to be aware of patterns of thinking that habitually arise.”

Maybe we’re finally doing it right.

It’s almost time to get back out into the world again but remembering the little things that make a big difference like getting plenty of rest, slowing down, remembering vitamins, prioritizing biofeedback meditative breathing, or carving out time for a living room-cardio or on a new favorite walking trail, will aid in our personal transformation and navigating the next normal.

The exercise regimen can always use some perfecting, but I believe it is one thing we will never take for granted again and we will be loaded with an arsenal of at-home tools and favorite walking paths to get outside and move. In addition, and with more awareness, self-care will be treated with more proactive education and practice. I believe that by building stronger replacements and repairs for these things that make up our sum total, we will be more adaptable, resilient, and yes, better at wellness, after weathering the pandemic.

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IT Leadership Blog

The Roles That Make Up an Unstoppable Digital Acceleration Team



One of my favorite books – Unstoppable Teams, written by three-time Navy Seals platoon commander Alden Mills – is about building organizational success through leadership. I wrote a summary of the book and one of the biggest takeaways is: Success is determined by the ability to build and lead teams of specialized individuals who contribute their unique strengths in service to a shared vision.

“That’s what I mean by an unstoppable team, one that brings diverse gifts to bear on the team’s goals through a shared sense of purpose and a deep commitment to each other. You can assemble as many individual superstars as you’d like but they won’t become unstoppable unless they believe in each other and in their collective mission,” writes Mills.

One of the most impactful visions that organizations are focusing on in 2021 and beyond is digital transformation and acceleration. The partnerships that are formed to facilitate and advance transformation within the organization require both hard and soft skills that can meet the moment and integrate together to contribute to long-term success.

In a recent article published on Harvard Business Review, “Is your C-Suite Equipped to Lead a Digital Transformation?” the authors discuss the attributes of each executive leadership role and how they can best serve an organization’s digital transformation vision and implementation. In addition, the authors found that the search for tech and digital expertise was on the rise before the pandemic (59%) across a variety of roles.

Here is a summary of each role’s key attributes according to the writers:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Digital transformation’s success hinges on the CEO’s ability to articulate the case for change and spearhead a forward-looking strategy. The CEO will need to shoulder a “hefty set of responsibilities within the context of a rapidly changing landscape.”
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO) – Called upon to lead company-wide digital transformations, CTOs must be able to formulate new digital strategies, including identifying where value can be created through new technologies and the business. In addition, they must embrace a central leadership role that motivates and aligns employees to buy into new initiatives and technologies.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO) – The CFO must operate as a hub — evaluating costs and benefits of technology investments and identifying areas for new growth and opportunities.
  • Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) – Recruiting and retaining individuals with essential technological and digital skills is imperative for filling the internal talent pipeline. A CHRO’s ultimate role realization can come through as a partner in change initiatives and organizational culture transformation.
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) – Must shift to forecasting future development and evolve strategies to content with new content- and data-driven marketing (vs. mass marketing). CMOs must be comfortable multitasking communication platforms, online direct distribution channels, and their resulting immediate feedback.
  • Board of Directors – Now the BOD must also include a wide range of goals and targets that involve innovation and investment.

An unstoppable team is necessary for digital acceleration and is founded in a deep commitment to the shared vision and building a cultural transformation around technological and digital skills and championing change and investment in a rapidly changing landscape.

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