CIO’s Plan for Returning to the Office in a COVID-19 World

As the increase in COVID-19 cases tirelessly persists throughout the nation, businesses continue in their search to find new means of getting back to work. Contributing writer to CIO, Stacy Collet addresses the concerns of an uncertain return in her feature, “The CIO’s Return to the Workplace Playbook.” Collet highlights the necessary questions to be considered by CIO position holders, primarily focused on new safety regulations and how their implementation will affect company performance.  

How will CIO’s help generate a safer work environment?  

Following the highest level of CDC health regulations. 

The CDC offers a range of safety implications that can be enforced to enhance the likelihood of a healthier workspace. Social distancing, temperature checks, and hand sanitizing are a few of the suggested measures. These combined with technological enhancements throughout offices are predicted to act as an even greater aid in promoting a safer space for employees.  

“Some 58 percent of organizations plan to invest in smart personal hygiene devices, such as connected hand-sanitizer stations. More than a third (35%) plan to invest in infrared thermometers that can take employees’ temperatures from a distance, and 25 percent plan to invest in thermal cameras that can detect distancing between employees,” says Insight Enterprises.  

CIO’s will have to begin searching for means using technology to promote a more contactless environment. These contactless solutions can be executed through motion sensors technology in areas like bathrooms, conference rooms, and entrances/exits.  

Collecting and managing personal health data. 

Various new monitoring systems are allowing companies to track the health of their employees, giving businesses the means to gauge the evolvement towards a greater potential of return.  

“Companies are going to have to rely on their IT teams to collect, manage and work with all the health information they’re going to be collecting from their employees,” says Kropp.  

Although these will allow businesses to gain insight on progress, it will also be up to the consistency of the employee to maintain truthful recordings of their health status. Therefore, it may be difficult to obtain accurate recordings, especially in cases where employees are not comfortable sharing personal information.   

Monitoring at-home performance. 

In order to monitor the success of a hybrid-workspace, in which only a few employees will return to the office while others continue from home, there must be some sort of system that allows companies the observe any performance shifts among those not returning to the office. IT departments will also have to manage the rising necessity of virtual communication, working to ensure those operating from their home are provided will high-performing resources that continue to promote team collaboration and communication.  

“You might have two people back in the workplace but they’re still going to video call each other even if they’re in the same building,” says Brian Kropp, VP of Research at Gartner.  

Managing potential financial conflicts. 

Obtaining and maintain high-performing technology, although vital, will not be inexpensive to the company. CIO’s must be prepared to face blockages from CFO’s when making the demands they see necessary.  

The return to normalcy is not as near as we initially hoped. The idea of normalcy itself has shifted and companies must prepare themselves for the vast differences in the familiar workspaces they left behind months ago.  

“The decisions you make in the next three months on how you manage this return to the workplace will define your brand as an employer and an organization for the next three years,” says Liz Joyce, Gartner VP and advisory for HR. “How did you treat your employees during this period, what does that mean and how does that define you as an employer.”         

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