It would be easy to make the mistake of thinking that the relationship between the enterprise network and Chief Human Resources Officer is a new one.
Connecting a remote workforce, delivering digital user experiences, offering a hybrid working environment – surely these were all concerns created by the pandemic?
While it’s true that Covid-19 helped propel connectivity to the front of the mind, the CHRO has needed to work with the network for as long as employees have been using computers. But you can see why the relationship has escalated in recent years.
Technology is no longer just a functional tool for employees. It now shapes every aspect of an employee’s work experience – from how and where they work, to how productive they can be, and how safe they are doing it.
All of this means that the CHRO should already be just as invested in the network as the CIO, especially if they want the ability to weather the ongoing Great Resignation and win the escalating war on talent. I say should, as this isn’t always the case.
As they look to their role in the future, the matter is not how the CHRO can develop a relationship with the network. It is now how they can take control of this relationship and empower themselves, so that they can drive the network instead of simply being reliant on it.
Create systems that facilitate BYOD
Technology has become so integral to both our work and home lives, particularly during the pandemic – which means that, naturally, everyone has an opinion on it.
Imagine being a Gen Z employee who has grown up with Apple devices, only to be handed a Windows laptop and an Android phone on your first day of work. Or a mature employee who has spent 15 years using PCs, and has just been issued a MacBook in their new job?
Increasingly, the choice of devices, tools and systems has a huge impact on an employee’s experience, performance and productivity. And companies will find that it is impossible to attract and retain talent unless they are willing to provide the flexibility for employees to work how they like. But how do you manage this? Because its not a simple question of device range.
Firstly, how do you ensure that all the devices can connect seamlessly, both remotely and in the workplace? Keep in mind that after almost two years of working exclusively in their own environment, where they have full control of the setup, employees now have much higher expectations of and less tolerance for IT issues in the workplace.
Further, how do you secure everything, with new devices being added and removed each day?
The answer is with a network that is built for BYOD and supporting the remote workplace (or microbranch) as well as the office. This means a flexible infrastructure that supports plug-and-play Remote Access Points, and is secured through an automated Zero Trust security model that provides role- and device-based network access control.
Build an infrastructure that’s ready for the workplace of the future
The workplace of the future is more than a space that can facilitate hybrid work. It needs to be set up to deliver what employees value most – both now and in the future.
Hybrid work is a good place to start though. Yes, your network needs to be able to support people working from home and coming into work, and bringing their own devices when they do.
But it also needs to support the new, more collaborative and social ways of using the office – the ‘hotelification’ of the workplace. This means having easily bookable meeting spaces, where employees can work together with both in-person and remote colleagues. And it means automated security solutions to manage the increased number of clients and guests who visit the office, for either meetings or demos.
Providing the workplace of the future also involves crafting an enhanced, differentiated experience that will encourage employees to choose to work from the office – or indeed, to choose your company to begin with. It might simply be doing a flawless job on providing those collaborative meeting spaces. Or it could also be through having a smart, hyper-connected and automated building that creates a perfect working environment that can’t be achieved at home.
Increasingly, today’s more environmentally conscious employees are also demanding that their workplaces are sustainable. With so many employees choosing to work only for companies that align with their values, this is not something that CHROs can ignore.
The network can help here as well, by allowing the business to track and reduce energy utilization, carbon emissions and physical resource usage.
When it comes to achieving this tech-enabled, flexible working environment, it’s clear to see why this needs to be a cross-departmental project, with the CHRO, the CIO and the CREO all working together seamlessly, potentially as part of joint ‘Digital Workplace’ taskforce.
Get creative about how the HR department can leverage digital solutions
Alongside IT, HR is one of the departments that has been thrust into the spotlight over the past couple of years. While once a more back-end function, HR now needs to be more present and visible than ever.
To start, mental health and wellbeing has become a greater priority, for both employees and their companies. Then, while hybrid working clearly has many benefits, it has created a new challenge around inclusivity. Namely, how do we ensure that employees who cannot or will not return to the offices still feel included, supported and integrated into the company culture?
While these are all complex issues, CHROs should feel reassured that there is a whole host of new digital solutions that can help, from communication apps that help boost team bonding to new digital platforms that support wellbeing initiatives – all of which, however, rely on a strong network.
By working closely with the CIO, CHROs can gain a better understanding of what innovative solutions are viable from a network infrastructure, security and data privacy standpoint, and then work to implement them for the benefit of their HR teams and the wider company.
For far too long, CHROs may have felt limited by or at the mercy of their company’s network infrastructure.
But at Aruba, we say that the business drives the network. So therefore, as a key decision maker responsible for the employees that keep a business running, it’s time for the CHRO to take more ownership and see the relationship for what it can be: supportive, fulfilling and truly empowering.
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