With Covid continuing to push out return-to-office plans, IT leaders find themselves challenged to plan for what comes next. The good news, says Tony Caesar, head of IT for Ericsson\u2019s Market Area North America, is that all organizations are in the same boat and have the same opportunities to learn from each other.\n\nCIO.com\u2019s Maryfran Johnson sat down with Caesar on a recent episode of CIO Leadership Live to discuss Ericsson\u2019s new way of working and IT modernization efforts underway at the $28 billion global provider of 5G infrastructure products and services, among other topics.\n\nCaesar joined Ericsson in 2018 and is in charge of Ericsson\u2019s Enterprise IT environment across all of the U.S. and Canada, taking care of all the existing infrastructure and rolling out new technologies to more than 10,000 employees. \n\nFollowing are edited excerpts of Caesar\u2019s conversation with Johnson. For more insights, watch the full interview below.\n\nOn a new way of working:\n\nTony Caesar: We have this term \u201cthe way of working,\u201d it talks about how we operate as an organization. Our way of working is we don\u2019t manage people by time anymore. It\u2019s not about, you\u2019re supposed to work 8-5 or 9-5, whatever it is. \n\nIt\u2019s not about clocking hours, it\u2019s about clocking results. So, even as a new hire, you very quickly learn that, \u201cHey, my value is what I deliver.\u201d So, it doesn\u2019t matter that I\u2019m not in the office. I\u2019m being measured on my deliverables, and as long as I continue to deliver, I\u2019m in good standing with everyone. \n\nWe really acknowledge that post the pandemic, we will not go back to work the same way we were pre-pandemic. Pre-pandemic, 80-90 percent of our people were in the office five days a week. We recognize that post-pandemic\u2026 there\u2019s going to be some mix where more people are going to be doing 2-3 days at home. \n\nOn un-flipping the switch:\n\nWe, as IT leaders, have brought so much more digitization and automation to our internal operations in the last year. Not because we wanted to, but because we had to. We were forced to be super agile. \n\nSo, when you look at all that swift change, and you see where people are now comfortable, that\u2019s the key. They\u2019re comfortable working from home and they\u2019re productive. It\u2019s very difficult to think that we\u2019re going to find a way to flip that switch back to pre-pandemic ways of working. I don\u2019t think people are going to allow it. \n\nBut I think we don\u2019t know yet. We don\u2019t know, and we won\u2019t know until the switch is flipped and we all do decide to start going back into the offices. \n\nThe upside is that you\u2019re not alone. Your company is not the only company that\u2019s going to be experiencing this. We\u2019re all going to be in the same boat at the same time. \n\nOn modernizing IT:\n\n[O]ur CIO, Mats Hultin, who is headquartered out of Sweden, has a vision of modernizing our entire IT organization, where we\u2019re looking at all of the traditional IT services and solutions that we offer. \n\nWith our cloud migration modernization program, we\u2019re looking at what you guys would think of as traditional legacy applications that run either in data centers or run in your respective IT shops and moving those things into the cloud and looking at more what we call consumable-based applications, where gone are the days of the big giant ERPs. \n\nWe have a lot of projects around what we call \u201clighthouses\u201d that are focused on enhancing our customers\u2019 experience. As an example, we\u2019re adding a lot more automation and digitization to our supply chain internally. \n\nIn terms of IT services, we\u2019ve put a lot of bots in place of humans, where we\u2019re trying to facilitate getting people answers, but much quicker than having to go through the service desk and waiting and waiting. \n\nA service desk tech, came up with this brilliant idea to create an app that a user can screenshot a problem and submit it through this app and have backend AI and ML figure out how to resolve the problem automatically for the user and send them back an answer.\n\nWe jumped on it, we\u2019re funding it and we\u2019re building it.\n\nOn attracting and retaining IT talent:\n\nThere\u2019s talent, there is lots of it. The question is how do you get that talent to want to work for you versus one of the other big tech companies? Because there\u2019s quite a few of those. So, there\u2019s a lot of competition for the talent, and even keeping the talent that you have. Because, again, that\u2019s the other side of the equation, where you\u2019ve got to make it so competitive and culturally competitive that people want to remain where they are and not just jump ship. \n\nSo, it\u2019s an ongoing thing. And it\u2019s all about people. Our jobs as leaders, it\u2019s about people. And if you forget that, then you\u2019ve lost the battle already.