Where is my workplace? – For the Admin/IT/Security Manager

Captain Ritu Mehla
Manager – Administration
T-Systems India

What’s on our mind?

“First and foremost priority is the health and safety of employees and customers. Enhanced contact-less and interface-less experience at physical premises coupled with employee wellbeing and maintaining connect are at the forefront of the way ahead for the new way of working “New Normal”. Also, there is a pertinent need more than ever on Preparedness for cybersecurity risks with enhanced technology transformation and cross-collaboration with continuous monitoring as the frontrunner with the evolution and pace of change associated with the onset of digital transformation.”

How can they maximize their value addition during this crucial time?

“Key enablers for Digital transformation by effective communication, detailed guidelines for the workforce to align in the unravelling of the “new normal” post-COVID-19 with re-imagination and reform as physical by-products along with effective stakeholder management. The development of resilient ecosystems to navigate and respond effectively by feedback from employees, stakeholders, engage and evolve, bringing in change agents and clear communication with trust and faith in the purpose-driven for business, at the core employee wellbeing as focus.”

What’s on our mind?

  1. Our vendor network is spread across multiple functions, in which we have invested time, money and energy. Some of these vendor organizations are in deep crisis owing to the pandemic. Others are managing their survival but are unable to guarantee flexibility going forward.

Should we be simply discarding any vendor organization which is unable to guarantee this flexibility, regardless of their value addition to our organization in the past? Is it not counterproductive to let them go despite the synergistic professional relationship and comfort we have built over years? Is there a way we can meet them midway? What if a vendor is unable to move with our changing workplace needs? How should we leverage their subject matter expertise during this time? Should we be inviting our current vendors in our ideation and strategy discussions so that they may keep up with these changing needs? How far should we go to support them in terms of finances or expertise, etc during this tough time? How do we go about building a vendor ecosystem which is sustainable & yet agile?

  1. It’s getting harder to keep up with ever-changing global and local regulations. Physical safety and health of our workforce is our foremost priority. And that is a tough responsibility to shoulder.

Our organization is dependent on us to understand global and local security protocols, guidelines, and regulations. Each of these regulations further requires multiple initiatives to be introduced to achieve immediate compliance. We need to therefore ensure that we are not only adept with the latest guidelines but also on top of executing the initiatives necessary to comply with these protocols. The health and safety of our workforce depend on our ability to keep up. We are bound to falter here and there but are worried that it may be at the cost of this crucial health and safety. It is therefore imperative that we continue to join hands & ideate with workplace enablers and experts across the globe so that we can make informed decisions and take the best steps forward.

  1. The post-COVID workplace is a confusing black box at the moment. The picture is getting clearer but there is still much fog surrounding what employees want in this new normal. How do we ensure that we are simultaneously implementing initiatives while capturing how our users/employees are responding to each initiative?

In the past, collecting feedback and understanding user experience have always followed implementation. That’s not true in a post-COVID world where there is no data to back up what this new normal demands. Employees or end users are still figuring out what they want and many of them have only begun this journey of discovery. How do we simultaneously implement new initiatives while simultaneously, collecting & analyzing real-time user experience data? How should we go about building a collection engine which can capture how our users are interacting with newly introduced safety protocols, guidelines, technologies, etc.? How do we ensure that we are agile enough to tweak initiatives based on this real-time feedback? How should we measure the success of each initiative over the short term? How should we define short-term – 1 week, 1 month, 1 quarter? How much weightage should we give to this feedback? How do we ensure that we are the interpreters between decision-makers and end-users towards a win-win outcome?

How can I maximize my value addition during this crucial time?

  1. Safety guardians & visibility harbingers

The most important role of internal enablers for now and the foreseeable future is workforce safety. They must ensure that employees are safe when they decide to come back to work. They must create a workplace that can offer 3 key essentials to the returning workforce – assurance, safety & community. Assurance that the organization values their safety and is doing everything to ensure that. The assurance that the organization will ensure that other employees do their part to follow health and safety guidelines and the organization can handle an emergency if it arises. Safety, with regards to global and local protocols like thermal screening, mask detection, occupancy control, social distancing and contact tracing, touchless sanitization, etc. They must also ensure that the workplace offers a sense of community and engagement despite the socially distanced desks and the employee roster. This sense of belongingness can be induced in innovative ways such as socially distanced team-building activities, recurring social events, etc. It is also crucial for internal enablers to be the monitors of visibility. They should set up processes in a way that they can simultaneously implement new technology and other initiatives while collecting real-time data on how employees are interacting & experiencing this new workplace

  1. There & then, but also here & now

Resolving current issues & challenges in the present is highly crucial, but so is foreseeing the near future. It is critical for internal workplace enablers to deep-dive and closely track how the workplace puzzle will transform and take shape over the next 5 years. This could take the form of being an active participant in workplace focus groups, taking advice from workplace technology and facility management experts. Mapping and tracking what the most influential organizations and authorities are thinking. Internal enablers should sharpen their skill of strategy and thought leadership when it comes to the future of the workplace. Both the CXO’s & employees are looking to them for this clarity. They can work in tandem and synergy with external enablers to ride this wave of insight

  1. Test. Measure. Pivot or preserve.

Internal workplace enablers are operating amidst extreme uncertainty, hit having any predictive or historic data to base their decisions on. They have regulations to comply with and protocols to follow but zero data on the most relevant data point – user experience. It is therefore important for internal workplace enablers to constantly and consistently test new initiatives. Technologies and programs which enable return-readiness for their workplace and their workforce. Be it implementing new sensor-based technologies for social distancing and occupant control or trying out a new hot desk booking system for employees to reserved desks in advance. It is crucial for admin, IT & security managers to create a list of top priorities, then ideate to find the right initiatives to test, measure their impact in real-time, and then decide whether this initiative should be continued or discarded.

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