Lessons from the CIO Watercooler: IT Relations, Wellbeing and Workplace Collaboration

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CIO Watercooler February roundup

February’s Digital Boardroom session covered the changing role of IT relationships, wellbeing and workplace collaboration. As we weave our way out of the pandemic’s global chaos, IT leaders take on a more respected role within the business. With this new-found authority, the IT function can use this new potential to help shape the businesses of the future as we all navigate the new world of the hybrid workplace.

February’s Digital Boardroom saw some important discussions around some of the key topics that will guide us into a new post-pandemic era. We’ve highlighted some of the key industry leaders’ thoughts and insights on this new wave of change for the industry.

Tech resources and business objectives: closing the gap

The global pandemic provided a significant period of opportunity for the IT profession. Now much more appreciated for enabling the global remote working phenomenon and delivering business continuity, the reputation of IT has seen a significant revival. This period of change has brought business and IT leaders much closer, according to leading CIOs, and has set a new growth trend for the year ahead as tech adoption continues to accelerate at scale.

At a time when IT is more visible and accessible than ever, Paul Coby, Group CIO at Johnson Mathey, recommends IT leaders should focus on providing a clear IT strategy with deliverables, operational support and cyber integrity. He refers to the three ‘P’s’ for cultivating the IT function’s relationship with business as a whole:

  1. Prioritisation of business needs via the IT strategy
  2. Pride in the achievements of the past year
  3. Effective partnerships with stakeholders

“The pandemic has opened up the opportunity to have a much more genuine partnership between the business and IT. We can ask ‘what is the IT strategy we need to support business ambitions?’ We want to get beside the business, so we are able to jointly build these roadmaps.”

Paul Coby, Group CIO Johnson Mathey.

Workforce wellness: advice for avoiding demotivation

As the mental wellbeing conversation is at the fore for many team leaders, wellness in the workplace has become paramount. Demotivation can have an adverse impact on productivity, and this can be challenging for managers, particularly during these times of rapid change.

That means it’s more important now than ever to educate team members on the simple ways we can optimise performance and proactively take care of physical and emotional wellbeing in the months ahead.

Managers and business leaders should advocate vitamin D exposure by taking regular breaks outside, take exercise, drinking enough water, eat a high protein diet, and set aside time to gain some headspace, reflect and reset to help reduce stress, fatigue and burnout.

The collaboration conversation

Remote working technology has turned a corner, and Microsoft Teams has quickly become one of the most widely used platforms. IT leaders from Reckitt Benckiser to Stockport Council gathered to talk all things Teams and collaboration tools in general.

As real-time video communication quickly surpassed communication traditional channels such as phone calls and emails, businesses must look to introduce new policies that standardise a remote working model.

It’s important for business leaders to be aware of the challenges posed by a hybrid working environment. With an increasingly hybrid workforce, team leaders must overcome challenges of equality between those that choose a home working environment and those that choose the office, with connectivity also set to become a primary concern for those wanting to work remotely.

Leaders can also anticipate a general shift towards centralised, single-platform, unified solutions, as these help to overcome licensing complexity and reduce fees for unused services. We’ll also see an enduring trend that businesses want to make all communications channels accessible all in one place and often seek to implement the same platform as partners or clients to further improve connectivity.

“As we go into next year we’ll see a lot more hybrid use cases with tablets and mobiles. With the emergence of 5G, we’ve started working with Vodafone to integrate the mobile IMS level into our platform, so your mobile number becomes your single DDI globally, which also integrates into Teams. That’s an evolution of how people will work from anywhere across any network.”

Pascal Coignet, Senior Solutions Engineering Manager, RingCentral.

That wraps up our top takeaways from February’s Digital Boardroom session. Get in touch with CIO Watercooler to catch some of the forthcoming sessions.

Originally published Mar 29, 2021, updated Apr 10, 2023

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