Initial lockdowns this year meant that organizations had no choice but to send staff to work from home. However, how they handle the return to an office – or continue to operate remotely – is less simple.
Among employees working from home for the first time, some will thrive while others can’t wait to return to the office. Organizations’ response to this may mean changing business operations and protecting their reputation by not forcing their staff to make a singular choice.
Meanwhile, the return of lockdowns – local and national – is presenting organizations with challenges. One of these is how to balance employees’ health and safety with their personal well-being and feelings of isolation.
Service management considerations
To enable teams to deliver services to customers, businesses will have to think about tools such as phones, networks and printers and their related commercial arrangements – everything they previously took for granted when office-based.
In turn, business continuity plans will have to evolve to maintain a healthy workforce while meeting customer needs.
And so, the role of best practice comes into focus, starting with the pre-existing cultures within organizations. Following the ITIL® 4 service value system, value chain and guiding principles, leaders need to think: what are the options to facilitate our people’s working practices, wherever they are?
New governance rules might favour working from home, therefore managers need to examine their organization’s service value system and understand how practices will support the workforce and their customers.
Leaders still managing their teams as they did before the pandemic may need to rethink their approach. And, if they are going to keep customers happy, they can’t continue to indefinitely blame the pandemic for sub-optimal service.
The new behaviours and principles for service managers
When operating from a company’s office, the business controls the products and services employees use. However, when working from home, many employees can now exercise the freedom to make their own buying decisions about IT/digital products and services, especially if their employer is slow to respond or offers substandard tools. For example, replacing a headset essential to work or using alternative software that is more user-friendly or familiar. Depending on the associated cost, they can choose either to get the go-ahead to claim on expenses or bear the cost themselves.
The IT equipment companies supplying to employees at home will ultimately need replacing and/or patching. So, the way organizations provide IT services needs to be quicker and more efficient.
This means removing layers of bureaucracy for service requests and procurement, if companies want to retain productivity. Knowledge management will also need to adapt to the changing face of incidents that employees are confronted with when working at home.
Service management leaders need to plan now for the way things are likely to go; this needs discussion and ITIL provides the framework in which to hold these conversations.
In challenging times, ITIL 4’s value-led approach focuses on the outcomes organizations want, which will rely on them getting it right for both remote or hybrid-working employees and their customers.
Companies that start planning now and do it well will be in a better position to avoid getting left behind.