The Need for a (Required) digital transformation in the year of Covid-19

Covid-19 has shaken many organizations to its core.  Some have closed their doors to wait out the storm, others have tried to continue their operations as is, and yet others have completely innovated and pivoted their business model to capitalize on the “New Normal.”

The cold reality is that it should have been key stakeholders and executives within an organization driving the implementation and adoption of a digitalized work environment.  What actually occurred was instead that a virus took the mainstage as the catalyst to springboard and accelerate the digital transformation of organizations at a rate never seen before.

I am currently blessed to be working at IronNet Cybersecurity, and as a technical organization we actually had part of our workforce working remotely.  This fact alone ensured that we had some of the technologies in place in order to pivot to a more digitally enabled organization.  What actually happened this last week is that during our all-hands meeting our Executive team announced we were moving towards a fully remote organizational posture.

And while I will miss our office comradery, ping pong tournaments, and expertly stocked snack stash – I applaud this dramatic pivot in business plans.  In the face of a threat that is invisible, that nobody on this planet can predict the end of accurately, they decided to be agile.  Today that is exactly what I am challenging you to do.

Every employee has a voice.  So, whether you are currently furloughed, part-time, temporarily work from home, or are an organization decision-maker – I hope you take something away from this and pass it on to aid your organization in the ongoing effort to transform to a digitally centric enterprise.

What I wanted to do today was to give your organization general business tips that I have witnessed make a huge difference in our organization.

  • Find a way to check in with your employees:

This is another shameless plug for our executive team.  As soon as this crisis hit, they enabled a check-in feature on every device, that allowed us to confidentially report.  A few of the questions were around how we were feeling of course, but the other questions revolved around how many times a week the employee would come into the office if it was open.  The crazy part is that almost the entire organization participated in the check-ins! How many times do you actually fill out surveys!?  Well when it is a well-crafted organization “check-in” turns out people will fill out your survey!

After a few weeks – the results were in, and almost half the staff said they wouldn’t go back to the office if they didn’t have to.  I wonder what the employees at your organization would say!  Only one way to find out…

  • All-Hands/Team Meetings:

I know for a fact it is easy to get into a groove of zoom meetings, not packing a lunch, and fending of kids (for those who have them).  As we get into this groove it’s also easy to feel as if we are missing out on something that may be occurring on a larger scale within our team or organization as a whole.

This is where you come in.  It takes someone to organize these, but it also takes someone to actively commit to participating in these.  Whether it is taking a few minutes to prepare a few statements or what you know is occurring throughout the company or pointed questions to work out some of this information, it is essential to do.  Even if you think everyone is aware – confirm it, and reiterate it, and spend some time with those on your team.

  • Employee and Leader Enablement:

In a remote world, you have to become part of your employee’s world.

I feel like this article is one giant shout out to my organization, but it is important that you realize the impact that you can have on your organization.  Nobody needs more videos to watch.  Trust me, after two months of remote work – I have stopped watching any sort of “training videos” Now let me ask you a question, what would a day of 15 minutes Ted Talks performed by the talent in your very own staff do for your organization?

I can’t answer that question for you, but I can tell you what it did for ours.  It got our staff ENGAGED!  We spent a day, with breaks worked in and all-hands meetings at the beginning and end – jumping into smart talks.  From cyber/IT/work-related topics, whiteboarding presentation creation, social media, how to debrief a debrief, and more – I learned more than I thought I would.  I also believe it brought people together in a way that allowed others to be heard.  Now while you may not have a Tracey Abby or an Irina Nowak to deliver a day like this for your organization.  I recommend you find someone who can set up enablement events such as this.  It is essential as we move towards a more digitalized workplace.

Stay safe, stay engaged, and let’s transform.

By Joel Bork
Threat Hunter at IronNet Cybersecurity
Columbia, MD

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