Three Things to Steer a Safe Return to Work For All Your Teams
30 July 2020
Posted by: The Cyber Maniacs
Here we sit at the end of July, and in terms of returning to the office things aren’t much clearer than they were in April, May or June. Many of the companies we are working with are still wondering what’s next, spending extraordinary time and effort in understanding the landscape, reworking internal processes, and keeping teams in the loop.
But many are not sure how to ‘do’ what we think we might ‘need to do’ or ‘should do’ when it comes to bringing the workforce back into office safely. Here are two conversations we’ve had recently which show how challenging and complex the decision making around a safe and secure return to work is for many companies.
We spoke with a large startup in New York with over 130 employees, they recently cancelled the lease on a fancy open plan office downtown and have informed all teams to continue remote work through January 2021 when they will re-assess. The biggest gain to pushing back the date of a return to the office wasn’t just the financial savings but giving the executive team time and headspace from the rapid and ongoing COVID based decision making processes.
In working with our client’s HR, Cyber security, and executive management teams in the past month to develop innovative learning content that supports a cybercafe return to work, here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan and prepare for what’s next.
1. Build Small Cyber and Safety Plans
Using an agile approach to navigating the people, process, technology, legal, risk, safety, and facilities challenges is probably the only sane-adjacent method possible in our current scenario. Huge rollouts and change processes have been thrown out the window. For example one of our services is to keep employees aware of new threats with updated digital content- usually on a 3 month content cycle we have switched to two week sprints and LOTS more collaborative overhead to ensure the right messages and tone are set.
The cyber threat landscape at the beginning of the crisis and to date has exploded with new phishing scams, technology and human vulnerabilities galore. Getting information and actionable advice out to different countries, states and cities means our approach to content creation has become even shorter, creating nano and micro content updates on a continual cycle.
From what we’ve seen across most business functions, planning as far as the horizon of predictability had already been shortened in the past 5-10 years through digital transformation, new business models, and the age of data. Planning to bring workers back to the office is a huge task with lots of moving pieces, but aim for the smallest plan you can build, as the risks are still very real in terms of safety, health, cybersecurity, and your employees emotional wellbeing.
2. Be mindful of employee and managerial burnout
We’re past the panic and shock, but many of the HR and Cyber teams we know are maxed out. Our polling on the digital habits of remote workers (both new to WFH and those more prepared) has shown that a majority of respondents are having a harder time than normal shutting off work, creating work life balance, or keeping to those best practices of breaks, walks, and non-digital time. Back to back Zoom meetings is neither healthy
nor sustainable, and sadly is happening all over the place. Burnt out employees are not only less productive; they are less cyber safe. Tired and stressed humans do click on more links and are less able to spot phishy emails, for instance.
Our content for those coming back and those remaining at home focuses on the psychological aspects of keeping themselves and their teams from digital burnout. Make sure your plans also consider how you can help employees with stress, burnout, fear, boredom, and the ongoing agita of the global COVID19 challenges.
3. Adapt to the New Human Safety at Work Landscape
Health and safety in the workplace is taking on new meaning, a silver lining surprisingly enough. Through all ‘being in this together’ we’ve seen corporate teams and territories work holistically across problem sets, looking at culture, security, safety, health, happiness at work, agility and decision-making processes in modern ways. From assessing how teams are working, managers are leading, and the workforce is managing conversations which would have been siloed to HR or perhaps executive leadership are now scrummed out in a multidisciplinary and multi-functional way.
We’re excited to see IT and Cybersecurity at the table to help build capability and digital possibility, but at the same time we also are living through the same remote working and safe working challenges. Cybersecurity teams are leaning into protecting the organisation and it’s people with a new found sense of purpose, and we’re quietly crossing our fingers that this trend of considering security and safety in the same breath as opportunity and productivity continues.
We’ve always seen remote, virtual and “wherever you are” working as part of a modern organisation- it’s how we’ve rolled as a company for years. But COVID19 creates a massive shift to remote working, with many companies starting to jettison the office all together (see Siemens recent announcement), we’re seeing patterns emerge now after the first wave of crisis has subsided that point to much more structural changes to work practices, the security landscape, and organisational culture.
As we continue to plan, change, replan, change again, adapt and hope for the best through the end of the year, remember to keep your team’s safety and happiness in mind from a health, psychological, and digital perspective. How will you support them if we return to work in the Autumn only to head back home in the Winter? What will you say if there is a cyber incident? How do you extend your corporate culture when the office no longer exists?
Embracing these challenges with an agile mindset, that balances security and the safety of all employees and your business needs is no easy feat. But the will is there, and if you can throw the first line, reach out and capitalise on it as a team, as a leader, or as an organisation- you will be better prepared to survive 2020!
Guest blogger bio
Kate is the CEO and Founder of Cybermaniacs, an innovative cyber awareness company. With over 20 years in the IT trenches, and the founder of Kate brings a unique perspective from all sides of the IT/Business/Vendor equation. She has worked as the Director of a successful IT leadership consultancy, run global BRM for a major civil engineering firm, did a stint with Gartner and worked in a variety of trailblazing technology companies in the noughties. She is also a NED and Advisor to startups in the UK and US, acts as the Director of Development for the Ladies of London Hacking Society, and speaks internationally on leadership, cybersecurity, and technology change topics.
Find Kate Brett Goldman on LinkedIn