The CDW Executive SummIT: Managing the Evolving Workforce was held in Seattle Aug. 10-12.

Aug 22 2022

CDW Executive SummIT: Emerging Themes Around Hybrid Work

As the workforce continues to evolve, employers should focus on enhancing collaboration, continuing digital transformation and empowering a diverse workplace.

More than two years after the onset of the pandemic, organizations across industries have settled into hybrid work arrangements, but they continue to explore the IT solutions that can optimize digital work.

Several experts addressed the advantages and challenges of hybrid work in the sessions they presented at the CDW Executive SummIT: Managing the Evolving Workforce in Seattle, Aug. 10-12.

One of those experts was Jennifer Adams, senior director of sales experience and enablement programs at Poly. “Everything that's going on with the Great Resignation, planning, the cloud, all of these different things that are happening right now, I think the biggest opportunity for us and for many of our customers is to really focus on people,” Adams said.

“It's important to understand that we all have different needs and behaviors when it comes to how we like to work,” she continued. “So, your role might influence that. You might prefer to be in the office, you might prefer to be virtual. Sometimes that may change throughout the day. And so, understanding workstyles is an important factor in being able to plan for the future.”

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How Collaboration Platforms Can Help Build Corporate Culture

One of the themes to come out of the event was the need to exploit the advantages of collaboration platforms as a means of building a positive corporate culture. In a session titled “Modern Workplace: Reimagining the Future of Work,” Shubham Choudhary, Microsoft’s partner strategy lead for the modern workplace, proclaimed, “Digital change must be more than investment in tools and IT. It is a way of being.”

Choudhary went on to say that digital transformation is not a tech problem, it's a cultural issue. It begins with empowering employees to accomplish more.​ He also noted that millennials are looking for choice, connectedness and mobility — all of which demand a digital-first approach.​

READ MORE: Find out what IT leaders can do to embrace hybrid work.

Choudhary’s comments were echoed in sessions by Adams and Kim Lear, founder of Inlay Insights. Both speakers noted the varying communication styles preferred by workers from different generations and the need to accommodate such preferences.

 “Thinking as a leader,” Lear said,  “the way that you articulate, the way that you write, and thinking through even the way that you write emails — Is the subject line related to what's in the body of the email so that it's easily findable later? —  your next steps, thinking through your meeting agendas to really determine, how can we make this as effective as possible to still create the culture that we want, and to still bring people together?”

In a separate session, Zafar Chaudry, senior vice president and chief digital and information officer for Seattle Children’s, observed, “Change management is probably the hardest component of healthcare. Physicians and nurses really don't like any form of change. That's been difficult. No matter how sexy the solution is, they don't necessarily want it. And when you're working in capacity, it's hard to learn tricks. You've got to find a balance. So, I think moving forward this balance will be productivity versus keeping your employees engaged and happy.”

Justin Avery
We need to develop our people to fill their next role here. What you have on hand today is your leadership of next year.”

Justin Avery Director of Business Development, Focal Point, a CDW company

Business Continuity Requires a Transfer of Knowledge

Lear presented her research on the differences between generations in the workplace. She emphasized the need for effective mentoring programs, pointing out that members of younger generations are most inspired by “leaders who actually do create a sense of real belonging in the workplace, who have that generosity of heart to try to help them see things in them that they don't see in themselves, to be able to pull out potential.”

In another session, Justin Avery, director of business development at Focal Point, a CDW Company, made a similar observation. “Millennials expect to be developed. I'm Gen X, I turned 50 this year. It blows my mind. I did not expect my company to develop me, I expected to go out and do that myself. That's not the case with the younger generation. They want you to develop them, and if you're not going to do it, somebody else is.”

“The story of aging in America has really fundamentally changed. And in an era of longevity, our society overall hasn't really evolved to accommodate these longer lifespans,” Lear said. “And so, even outside of the workplace, just in our communities, I think we will see over the next 10 years, a real shift in how we allow people to age with more dignity to be more productive for longer.”

RELATED: Discover what your organization should do to optimize employees’ relationship with tech.

The Key to Continued Workplace Evolution Is Flexibility

Speaking alongside Avery, CDW’s Ellen McRaith, vice president of talent acquisition, addressed the evolving expectations of potential employees and the effects those changes are having on recruitment and hiring. “Flexibility is absolutely a must-have,” she said. “And we should think about it in terms of radical flexibility.”

McRaith noted that, prior to the pandemic, most employers were focused on where their employees were working. “But now we're really going to look at three other things: what they work on, who they work with and how much they work. Those are the other things that candidates are really questioning as they go for jobs.”  

Avery noted that not enough skilled professionals are available to meet demand, making the hiring process more difficult. The IT sector currently is only filling 66 percent of open jobs, he said, which means the answer is simple: internal development.

“We need to develop our people to fill their next role here. What you have on hand today is your leadership of next year, is your next lineup in security operation center management, is your next network admin turning into your next network manager. That line of thinking is the only way to really combat this.”

Keep this page bookmarked for articles and videos from the event, follow us on Twitter @BizTechMagazine and participate in the official event conversation on Twitter at #JoinCDW.

Photography by Joe Kuehne

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