Remote or Not Remote? That’s Actually NOT the Question

How CIO decisions are shaping the future of enterprise talent

In the email heard around the enterprise world, Elon Musk declared that ALL employees would return to the office or be fired. Thus, throwing the biggest log yet on a fiery, executive debate that will rage for years.

Has your CEO made the same decree?  Or are you reading this in your pajama bottoms on your couch?

For CIOs and IT teams, the debate opens a more challenging set of questions than wardrobe selection.  Often because the orders from the top are not as black and white.

Are employees heading back to the office?  Yes.

Will employees continue to work remote?  Also, yes.

It’s not as simple as, “Will they or won’t they,” but rather “How many? Where? When?”  And most importantly, “How do I make the employee experience, and the security around it, identical no matter where they work?”

A new dawn is rising

As the dust settles on the pandemic and a new normal seems to be taking shape, CIOs are emerging from their war-time mandates of ‘keep things operating’ to a new set of challenges.  The hasty transformation that was thrust upon them is starting to show its cracks.

  • Is the VPN that is hanging together with duct tape and network engineer sweat really a viable, long-term solution?
  • Am I going to keep dealing with five different carriers so that I can connect that one office that is occupied for a lunch meeting every other Thursday?
  • Will the office in China ever be able to download a 30MB file in less than hour?
  • How do I stop the service tickets for Office 365? (Please, JUST MAKE IT STOP!)

While some of the questions are fun to poke fun at, the ramifications are significant.  Especially in the current economic climate.

Tough Times Ahead

The next year for the economy does not look great.  War, oil prices, inflation, interest rates. The list is daunting and it’s looking more and more like we are headed toward a recession.   As a result, board-level calls for both real transformation and financial belt-tightening are being heard far and wide.

The decisions that CIOs make today will literally determine the fate of some organizations’ financial viability 10 or even 5 years from now.  Not because they save 10% on their annual budget (and they will have to).  But because the impact those decisions make on the work experience, and by extension, the quality of employee they can keep in the organization.

Good people just don’t want to work at places that make it hard to do their jobs.

Reframing the Center of the Universe.

The dilemma requires IT leaders to reframe the view of their enterprise world.  In the old days, network and security planning started with where employees were located.  It then extended to the data center.

Now, employees are everywhere.  The data center is the cloud.  And the model breaks.  Trying to conform today’s enterprise network, security, and application delivery to yesterday’s framework is analogous to arguing how the earth is still at the center of the universe.

Reframing the employee experience requires CIOs to start, ironically, not with employees.  Instead, it begins with the applications and services those employees are accessing to do their jobs.

Focusing on delivering those workloads anywhere, securely, is actually the foundation for employee satisfaction.  It’s not foosball or mental health days, but rather just the ability to connect, communicate, collaborate, and build seamlessly.  Effortlessly.

When the focus is on securely delivering any application to any device, anywhere in the world, and making that experience effortless for the employee, the question of whether employees are heading back to the office or not becomes irrelevant.

About the author

Sean Kaine
Sean researches and writes about networking and cybersecurity services and trends for Aryaka. With more than 15 years’ experience leading product and marketing teams for b2b enterprises, Sean brings a diverse background across networking and security services. Prior to joining Aryaka, Sean led teams at Motorola Solutions, Neustar, Network Solutions, and Verisign. He lives in northern Virginia with his wife, two sons, and overly anxious pug, Gus.