Big Picture

Don’t Let a Hybrid Work Setup Derail Your Digital Transformation Efforts

It’s hard to complete a puzzle when some of the pieces are always missing. Hybrid work feels a bit like that: One day, you’ve got half the necessary parts to complete a task and the next day you have the other half, but you never get access to the whole box of pieces. The employee who resides in the corner cubicle represents the corner piece, and now it’s missing in action twice a week.

Today’s coronavirus-inspired hybrid work setups present puzzling conundrums to businesses all over the world. Building a cohesive culture, refining processes, and meeting the ever-evolving needs of customers requires some outside-the-box thinking. To that end, the digital transformations that countless companies are undergoing can be deemed more difficult when a sizable portion of the workforce isn’t in the same physical space.

Everyone may be rowing in the same direction, sure, but the boat becomes more lethargic and cumbersome when it’s not full of rowers. How, then, can entrepreneurs, business leaders and CEOs make the most of this new reality and maximize the team’s productivity when they’ll continue to be spread out for the unforeseeable future?

Making Digital Transformations Work

As most of us have learned, having team members able to perform effectively from home has distinct advantages over the old ways of working. Employers can downsize facilities with this newfound reliance on home-office setups (and significantly lower operating costs in the process), and workers reap financial savings and achieve a better work-life balance by maintaining control over where and when they work best. But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.

There are obvious concerns as well: How does a company culture grow and thrive when up to half its participants are away from each other at any given time? What happens when the always-at-work group begins to split and separate from those who remain at home, whether by necessity or choice? Can maturing companies scale appropriately under these circumstances?

As leaders, we know that challenges are often just opportunities in disguise, and that applies to digital transformations amid hybrid work setups. Here are three actions to prioritize as you maneuver through this dynamic:

  1. Define goals for investing in digital transformation
    Quite simply, you don’t know how to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going. Have you and others in leadership had in-depth conversations about the company’s ultimate goal(s) surrounding digital transformation initiatives? One of the fastest ways for these endeavors to get completely off-track is when robust communication is lacking. After all, research finds that 7 out of 10 digital transformations fall short of their stated goals.

    So, take the time to sit with all concerned parties and hash out a plan, with end goals clearly stated so no one can claim surprise halfway through the mission. In short, you need to create a crystal-clear vision that’s framed by strategic imperatives and desired business outcomes. Ask plenty of “why” questions and seek input from anyone who’s affected by the change, then revise the plan accordingly.

  2. Align front-office and back-office needs
    When building a resilient, successful company that can handle any sort of crisis thrown its way, CEOs must consider both ends of the house (front and back) to ensure total team alignment. When IT needs might not correspond cleanly to what customers expect out of their experience with your brand, disconnects happen and the endeavor suffers.

    “The front-facing component of digital transformation is just as important as the back-office component,” says Harish Dwarkanhalli, president and global head of iDEAS Apps and Data at Wipro Limited, a leading global information technology, consulting, and business process services company. “Companies need their internal processes to run on a seamless foundation of technology, but they also need their products, services, and support network — anything facing the customer — to be tech-optimized as well.”

  3. Evaluate whether digital transformation efforts are working
    Periodically assessing your efforts’ success seems like a logical step, but too many companies don’t pause and take the time to truly evaluate whether digital transformation efforts are going according to plan. You must figure out how to reach desirable outcomes through a series of achievable milestones. If you have veered too far away from those progress markers, reconvene and recalibrate. Don’t let the mission get so far out of hand that it becomes impossible to fix.

    “Organizations need to define their own criteria of what success looks like,” says Yugal Joshi, vice president of digital, cloud, and application services research for Everest Group. “For example, if they were planning to get onto digital channels, which got accentuated due to the pandemic, their metric will differ compared to if they were focusing more on driving internal efficiencies through digital initiatives. Moreover, their existing and new technology landscape will also play a crucial part in defining these metrics. However, they can learn from their peers and the broader market.”

Hybrid workforces might the digital transformation process seem more challenging to manage, but the nature of hybrid work makes updated technology an even more urgent imperative. Prioritize your vision for the transformation, your internal-facing and customer-facing tech experiences, and your team’s desired success metrics as you drive better business outcomes through technology.


Written by Rhett Power.

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Rhett Power
Rhett Power is responsible for helping corporate leadership take the actions needed to drive impact and courage in their teams that will improve organizational performance. He is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful (McGraw-Hill Education) and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning start-up toy company. After a successful exit from the toy company, Rhett was named the best Small Business Coach in the United States. In 2019 he joined the prestigious Marshall Goldsmith's 100 Coaches and was named the #1 Thought Leader on Entrepreneurship by Thinkers360. He is a Fellow at The Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. He travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship and management alongside the likes of former Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and AOL Founder Steve Case. Rhett Power is an acclaimed author, leader, entrepreneur and an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.