The CIO’s return to the workplace playbook

IT executives will face unique challenges when employees begin returning to the workplace. Here are seven key questions every CIO must answer in devising their optimal plan.

The CIO’s return to the workplace playbook
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Business kept rolling at SUEZ North America despite pandemic stay-at-home orders this spring. Essential employees delivering water and wastewater service still had to operate their systems and monitor water quality, while the IT team ensured that remote working tools were functional for the rest of the company.

“It’s been a pretty wild ride over the last 11 weeks,” says Michael Salas, senior VP and chief information and digital officer, recalling one contingency plan for a possible Level Four emergency that would require live-in teams working in shifts and sleeping in RVs in the parking lot. (The plan was not executed.)  Now, his next challenge begins: how to safely and productively bring 20 to 30 percent of SUEZ North America’s 3,000 office workers back to the workplace in the next few weeks.

“Some 75 percent of organizations are debating right now what is the best way to get their employees back to the workplace,” says Brian Kropp, distinguished VP of research at Gartner.  Returning to the office will required collaboration among all departments — legal, risk management, IT, human resources and facilities — to come up with a cross-functional strategy.

IT executives will face their own new challenges dealing with a hybrid workforce of remote and in-office users. How do you support remote users and manage devices? What should your network look like? Is your private cloud infrastructure robust enough? Adding to the complexity, IT will be involved in gathering employees’ personal health information, office work schedules will fluctuate and executives may consider monitoring remote workers’ productivity.

Here are seven IT questions to answer when re-integrating employees back into the workplace.

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