IT After COVID-19: Managing Changes from the People’s Perspective

May 3, 2021

Mike Lindstrum

Vice President Consulting Services at Mainstay

As the pandemic loosens its hold on our private and professional lives, the question of how we adapt to the blended workplace climate is becoming urgent. One thing is true: we won’t be returning to the same workspace—neither the same technology nor the same people. If we leave behind the task of implementing new technology, it’s clear that we also have to find solutions for the people side too. How will we adjust to our changing roles in the blended workplace?

Which awareness campaigns will encourage people to come back to work?

 If we envision how to operate with a smaller office footprint, what strategies can we find to support our employees as they navigate through a new infrastructure?

All these questions, and particularly the last, will require the input and imagination of our IT teams. IT is one of the most critical functional groups in the office that frequently works hand in hand with employees. Serving as an indispensable support network, IT pros juggle many tasks at once and deploy top communication skills every day in order to keep the company running. As IT experts, we’ll have to reimagine how we can marshal our communication skills for the better in the post-pandemic era.

Communicating Change, Motivating New Behavior

In the device-driven, AI-managed workplaces we’ve come to inhabit, we regularly find solutions for tech before turning to the human faces that make our offices run. There’s a reason why 84% of employees prefer in-person meetings to digital interactions according to a recent survey.

Although many companies would prefer to relaunch after COVID-19 with a 100% in-office employee plan, we have to adapt to a blended model at present. This is where IT teams can help.

Everyone is going to feel the growing pains of returning to work uniquely. Behaviors will be a challenge to change. That’s why using to a people-first perspective is ideal in this moment. By using their communication skills, IT teams can play a central part in refashioning the motivations and behaviors of our employees.

Addressing Challenges As An IT Team

Many employees have struggled and persevered through new socially distanced workplace policies. What systems can IT put in place to make adapting to a new workplace easy, and even fun?

Take, for example, the challenge of providing IT support to everyone in your office. Half of them may be working at home. People, with time, are going to need the same reliable IT support services they expected at the office last year. The question is, how do IT people convincingly help the people-side of work and change behaviors naturally? Communication is key.

Adapting to Fit Your Unique Engagement Model

IT pros will also need to adapt their own behaviors. Think of the challenges inherent in managing internet and cloud-based security networks when your employees are spread out across the nation. Where IT support responsibilities may have been passive before the pandemic, it’s very likely that IT will have to recast its role in the blended office to be more active.

Changes in behavior like the above are typical, but each functional group will change differently. For instance, how will IT alert their worker populations when a video call software or a certain group meeting function is corrupt?

Operating under the hood of tech isn’t the only way IT can help us transition smoothly into a post-pandemic workplace. They need to face the people side of the balance too.

That means answering questions about your workplace’s engagement model. Each company engages with the need for behavioral changes uniquely. But as an IT professional, on the other hand, you know that many of the initiatives (CDC and local) are controllable and the same.

Everyone in your workplace has responded to the pandemic by instituting their own safety protocols. But you’ll likely have conflicts when these policies differ. How can IT communicate these changes and help us deal with them seamlessly? Printing posters and making email lists are just one solution to engaging a large population with a smooth rollout.

If you or your IT teams are interested in more solutions to change and communicate to the people-side of your organization, we can help. At Mainstay, our Prosci-certified change management professionals are uniquely qualified to help address post-pandemic changes in workplaces. We can identify a change management solution to fit your company’s new initiatives and policies—we might even find a solution to an issue you didn’t know you had!

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