How to Adapt Fast as CEOs Commit to Workplace Flexibility

Mitratech Holdings, Inc
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[author: Henry Umney]

Workplace flexibility is being embraced by corporate CEOs, but it also presents a new range of challenges.

As the mood music of the global economy improves – albeit with some continued challenges – a recent survey of CEOs conducted by KPMG highlighted several priorities presently uppermost in the minds of CEOs and their boards.

A common theme in the survey?  The desire to grow, with continued mergers and acquisitions, as well as partnerships, being the most common vehicles.  Others?  Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives are also popular, with workplace flexibility being another significant theme.

Workplace flexibility has received a significant impetus over the last couple of years and it will not go away, as staff and managers have become accustomed to mixed working environments.

Views on workplace flexibility are evolving

The dynamics of workplace flexibility seem to be changing as its realities become apparent to corporate leaders. In a similar survey 12 months ago, almost 70% of CEOs in the survey expected to reduce their business’ physical footprint. This figure has dropped to 21% in the most recent survey, with only 37% of the CEOs having staff currently working away from the office at least two days per week.

While this might contradict the expectations of many, the survey suggests that another factor in workplace flexibility – the use of shared working spaces – will become increasingly significant. Over half of the CEOs surveyed expected shared working spaces to be available to their staff – a substantial increase from previous survey results. The results also suggest that many CEOs are also looking to make workplace flexibility an attractive option in recruiting talent.

Unsung heroes

These results reflect the conversations we have been having with customers about their plans for workplace flexibility, where a mix of office working, shared space working, and home working will all feature in one way or another.

These changes have and will continue to present challenges to many businesses as they transition to the digital-only working model that workplace flexibility requires.

In our experience, there are two key areas where companies are investing to deliver workplace flexibility: Policy Management and End User Computing Application (EUC) management.

Policy Management has been the unsung hero of the last 18 months, as companies have grappled with home working and now the return to the office. Policy management is the process where managers develop and define how their staff conduct themselves. It relates to a host of activities including IT security, professional conduct, procurement, bribery & corruption, the use of company resources, and much else.

Investing in agile Policy Management

With staff potentially working in multiple locations during the week, with less traditional management supervision, the need for staff to understand and follow company standards is paramount, as companies are liable for the conduct of their employees.

One issue highlighted by flexible working is that the policies can change regularly in light of experience, as well as changing legal or insurance requirements for example. Another is that fragmented policy systems and processes can expose a business to operational, reputational, and legal risks it cannot tolerate.

Companies are investing in enhanced policy management capabilities to help them define, implement, and manage their policies, as well as provide staff training and testing in these policies. Key to many projects is ensuring that policies and procedures are unified and consistent across the business, to avoid issues that can have a material impact on the business.

Turning toward EUC solutions

Another issue that has proved significant in recent months reflects how companies have improvised with email, spreadsheets, and other easy-to-use applications to deliver business services. These replaced the manual and paper-based processes in the office and will likely remain part of the BAU even as workplace flexibility takes hold.

While these informal systems that feature EUCs have been tolerated, the expectations of auditors, customers, and potentially regulators are that these applications will be subject to the same controls as standard IT applications. Spreadsheets have been especially valued in the last 18 months because their power and flexibility lend themselves to many problems, and it is possible to create your own business applications to fix problems quickly.

Companies are investing in EUC spreadsheet management solutions to bring enterprise levels of control to their EUCs, so that managers can proactively monitor the most critical spreadsheets and identify who made changes, with whose approval and when. These management solutions can also highlight errors, missing data, and other issues that can create operational, reputational, and regulatory issues for organizations.

Companies are investing in EUC spreadsheet management solutions to bring enterprise levels of control to their EUCs.

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