‘Jobs In Tech Support Have Been Hindered By Remote Work’

But there are advantages in the new workplace as well that CIOs should grab, says Mark Angle chief cloud officer at OneStream Software.

How can IT leaders overcome some of the shortcomings of remote work, while taking advantage of the inherent opportunities?

Mark Angle, chief cloud operations officer at OneStream Software based in Birmingham, Michigan, gives his take in a conversation with StrategicCIO360 and discusses why CIOs should pay attention to ESG and why it’s important to sunset older hardware.

How has remote work impacted collaboration across IT teams?

Jobs in tech support have been hindered by remote work. Not only does this prevent employees in these positions from learning from more experienced people in the office, but it also throws a wrench in collaboration. The lack of in-person communication prevents “water cooler” conversations that often spark innovative ideas and is a roadblock for employee connections.

Remote work also means that questions that could quickly be addressed in person with a quick chat over a cubicle can turn into a more formal scheduled call. Organizations need to find ways to encourage casual collaboration now that these common touchpoints are scarce.

The remote office also impacts the way IT trains new and current employees. While previously organizations may have approached training with the mindset of “in-person is better,” it’s no longer as necessary as it once was. The industry has adapted to offer great training options for online training programs, and the work from home culture now enables organizations to widen their talent pool across the world to bring in new skills that are valuable to the team.

How can leaders take these impacts into account when training teams?

It’s important that IT leaders help employees foster connections outside of the context of work so that they can collaborate better while working. This can take the form of manufacturing opportunities for employees to connect, or virtual events where employees can chat about non-work-related things. In addition, it may be valuable to organize in-person meetings where employees converge at headquarters or meet up regionally. Just having that in-person touchpoint, while occasional, can help teammates organically share knowledge and insight.

As I mentioned, the work from home culture can be a boon as much as it might be a hurdle. Once organizations detach themselves from the idea that in-person training is always a necessity, this opens the door to a world of virtual resources that otherwise might have been unutilized.

Not only that, but the options for local resources and training are vastly expanded when you have employees across the world. Encourage employees to check out what their local area has in terms of professional organizations and even informal IT-related groups.

Tech leaders are increasingly being called upon to consider how sustainability initiatives and their role merge. What do you see as opportunities for innovation that contribute to increased sustainability?

As cloud usage maintains momentum despite economic hardships, organizations will find that cloud usage lends itself to sustainability initiatives better than anticipated. Public cloud usage means that a resource is being split among many stakeholders, which reduces waste and therefore is more sustainable. Innovation in how cloud is financed also makes this advantageous for organizations, as “pay as you go” models allow companies to control their cloud spend much easier. 

In addition to utilizing scalable public cloud resources, utilizing code and architecture practices which enable dynamic resource utilization will not only reduce energy consumption and emissions, but reduce costs as well. Other, smaller strategies include employing the right sized tool for the job to avoid over-provisioned resources and continuous modernization efforts to always take advantage of the most efficient technologies.

Finally, one of the most important items in a sustainability checklist is to decommission older hardware as soon as possible. Companies should resist the temptation to leave sunset technologies running as an insurance policy.

As more teams plan to invest in ESG initiatives, where does the CIO come in in terms of measurement and planning? 

Generally, responsibility for what’s measured on the environmental side is sponsored by the facilities or IT executives. The societal and governance portions of ESG are often left to the board level and HR departments. While the CIO may have roles in both other areas, the main focus will be on environmental impact and overall data collection.

CIOs, by the nature of the massive energy footprint of information technology computing equipment, have an outsized direct responsibility for a company’s environmental impact numbers. They should be taking an active role in creating metrics and managing goals to limit consumption.

Additionally, while finance offices will be pushing to gather and report on ESG information, IT departments will find themselves working hand in hand to ensure proper data integrity and security as well as facilitating collection. This entails working with third parties and vendors to determine how a company’s tech impacts the numbers and to funnel data into an ESG dashboard tool.

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