Why workplace culture is giving more power to IT

August 25, 20174 Minute Read

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Not that long ago, Brad in accounting knew what everybody needed to get their jobs done. He ordered supplies, said “yes” or “no” to procurement requests, and the buck stopped at his desk. The main focus of IT was fixing the printer. Again.

Today, IT strategy involves much more than paper jams. Technology controls workflow and productivity—and that has incredible power over the profits of a company. The problem? Brad in accounting still thinks he’s top dog, and he’s getting cranky. Enter office politics.

As an IT decision-maker, you need to walk a fine line between grabbing the reins and keeping the peace. It may be tempting to tell Brad he’s so 2000 and late, but that won’t solve anything. Instead, back your decisions and get buy-in from C-suite members by tapping into the changing workplace culture.

Millennials have surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the modern workforce, according to Pew Research Center. And they have great expectations. This group assumes you’ll provide better tech and optimized solutions. If they don’t get what they want, they’ll hit you with shadow IT. Make everyone happy—and keep them safe—by creating a business case for implementing more powerful and more secure technology. Here’s how:

Address how people work

Employees don’t just need the latest seventh gen processor to do their work; they need to be able to work from wherever they are. In other words, mobility is key. A Gallup survey reported in The New York Times found that 43 percent of employees spend at least some time working remotely—and they expect to seamlessly log into the company server.

You’re also dealing with a generation that works around the clock. A recent Harris poll for CareerBuilder found that 63 percent of workers believe the traditional 9-to-5 workday is gone for good. Thirty-eight percent say they complete work outside of office hours, and 50 percent say they check or answer emails after they leave work. The latest technology means fewer midnight calls.

Keep everyone secure

Today’s employees don’t want to carry two phones, and they’re going to use their own smartphones and tablets to access company email and files. As millennials continue to take over the workforce, more will insist on using their own devices, which means implementing a BYOD policy. But with BYOD, you’re less of a gatekeeper and more of a tech consultant, bringing a new set of challenges to your desk. When the threat of a breach is heightened, for example, you need to maximize your mobile security levels to keep up.

“Most IT managers have a pretty good handle on the company laptops, desktops, and mobiles,” security expert Robert Siciliano told Fast Company, “but they are quickly losing control when employees bring their new mobile device and connect it to the corporate network. Now the IT guy has to worry if that last app you downloaded will infect other computers on the network.”

People want apps—and need collab tools

Since employees are used to being on their smartphones, your systems need to be accessible. According to recent CITO Research, custom internal company apps not only address security issues, they improve employee productivity. Thirty percent of respondents said apps improve business processes, and 23 percent said apps increased productivity. Ninety-one percent of corporate employees are using at least one mobile app, and 45 percent of companies employing 10,000 or more people provide apps to at least half of their workforce.

Email continues to be an important communication tool, but for less immediate situations. Instead, today’s workforce is gravitating toward text and instant messaging platforms to work and chat faster, according to Forbes. IT strategy needs to foster teamwork, especially as employees work remotely. The right online collaboration tool builds relationships, facilitates workflow, and makes employees more productive.

“Many of them enable teams to talk about their work within the context of the work itself. In practice, online tools for team communication and collaboration give people a place to express themselves, joke around, and get to know one another on a personal level. It all facilitates team cohesion and leads to greater productivity,” writes Jill Duffy in PC Magazine.

With workplace culture on the side of IT, even Brad from accounting can’t argue your business case. But remember: Companies that invest in technology also invest in employee happiness—and that’s priceless when it comes to competing in today’s talent shortage.

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