Digital Transformation

Lessons from the pandemic: 6 tips for success in the era of hybrid work

Published on August 24, 2022

To put it mildly, there’s been a paradigm shift in the IT operations landscape over the last few years. Due to the pandemic, remote work became the norm almost overnight, which caused IT personnel to scramble to keep businesses up and running.

The pandemic and subsequent migration to remote work revealed many important IT service management issues. Although one could argue that the following six tips are evergreen in nature, they do seem particularly important in the current hybrid work era.

1. Ensure there are formal bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in place
According to The State of ITSM: Two Years into the Pandemic, a global ITSM survey conducted in late 2021, nearly 40% of organizations do not have a BYOD policy in place. This percentage is down from 2020 (the beginning of the pandemic), when over 50% of organizations were without a BYOD policy. Despite this modest improvement, it’s still a bit unnerving to think that 2 out of every 5 organizations are currently operating without such a policy in place.

With BYOD rules on the books, departments cannot “do their own thing” and procure their own business-critical applications and services. All applications and services must be approved by IT personnel. Also, when such rules are firmly in place, individual employees are far less likely to use personal devices, apps, and cloud services to do their work. Having BYOD polices in place is the first step in cracking down on shadow IT.

2. Take advantage of mobile device management tools
By using mobile device management (MDM) software, IT personnel can effectively track both enterprise-owned and private devices. Such tools allow IT teams to ensure that all devices are compliant with corporate policies.

Additionally, with MDM tools, IT teams can troubleshoot devices in real time; they can discover jailbroken and rooted devices on the network, and in the event of a theft, it’s easy to geographically locate and wipe data from devices.

These tools can separate corporate applications from personal ones, which helps to maintain data integrity on devices. Also, through the use of containerization—the storing of enterprise data in encrypted containers—IT personnel can rest assured that the corporate data is safe on employees’ devices.

3. Consider purchasing, or at least financially contributing to, employee devices
If you decide to utilize MDM tools, it makes sense to provide—or at least pay for a portion of—the mobile phones, tablets, and other devices that your employees use for work. Providing phones and tablets not only improves the overall employee experience (EX), but it can also be rather beneficial from a security perspective, making it easy for IT personnel to streamline their work, monitor devices for compliance, and ensure that all employees are on the same page.

4. Make sure you have business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans
What the pandemic made abundantly clear is that it’s vital to have a business continuity plan (BCP) and a disaster recovery plan (DRP) in place. The pandemic truly tested organizations’ business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities; it revealed not only companies’ real-world ability to implement these plans promptly, but it also gauged these plans’ effectiveness.

According to the aforementioned ITSM survey, 11% of organizations had no business continuity plan (BCP) and disaster recovery plan (DRP) in place at the start of the pandemic. Of those companies that did have BCP and DRP plans in place, roughly 50% said their plans were effective, and another 32% found their plans to be helpful in some capacity.

From a business continuity perspective, the pandemic was an eye-opener; after all, many organizations didn’t foresee that they would need to resume operations entirely outside of the traditional security perimeter.

5. Data privacy needs to be a cultural priority
Another thing that became evident in the aftermath of the pandemic was the need to have every member of an organization well versed in basic privacy principles. Phishing, ransomware, and social engineering attacks all surged during the pandemic, making a culture of privacy-focused employees vital.

Every employee in a given organization, including (and perhaps, especially) privileged users, should be familiar with data privacy principles, such as data minimization and privacy-by-design. Moreover, zero trust should be top of mind; all employees should assume that every single access request has been compromised—at least until proven otherwise.

6. Encourage all employees to recognize the merits of the IT department
In the wake of the pandemic, fewer teams faced more challenges than IT departments. In the ITSM survey, IT professionals were asked if they believe IT personnel are currently taken more seriously in terms of budgets, salaries, and overall recognition of effort; 52% of respondents said that their IT personnel were, in fact, now viewed more highly as a result of the pandemic.

As a caveat, it’s worth noting that 14% of respondents asserted that IT teams have always been viewed highly. Nevertheless, the senior leadership at all organizations should go out of their way to ensure that every employee understands the importance of their IT teams’ work.

That said, if a company has a firm BYOD policy in place; makes data privacy a priority; provides employees with devices; has an effective disaster recovery plan, and uses adequate MDM solutions, it’s quite likely that this company’s employees already appreciate the unparalleled value that IT teams bring to the table.

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