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Three pillars to frame your hybrid workplace modernization

Artículo 28 mar 2023 Tiempo de lectura: min
By Auriol Stevens and Dennis Perpetua

The way people work has fundamentally changed.

Remote mandates born of the pandemic gave rise to hybrid models that have become the preferred style of work for most remote-capable employees.

As expectations and demand for this new way of getting the job done grow, businesses of every size and type face a new reality: adapt or risk being left behind.

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Expertise born from experience

Kyndryl has witnessed both the opportunities and obstacles brought forth by remote and hybrid work.

When we launched as an independent company after our spin-off from IBM in November 2021, our employees already had a rich history of working in and building remote-capable environments. However, we used Kyndryl’s launch as the catalyst for our own workplace modernization.

By the spring of 2022, we began transitioning to newer technology platforms to power our digital-first vision and sustain our hybrid workplace model. This action was central to constructing a nimble organization with values of inclusivity, equitability, and sustainability embedded in every aspect of our business.

If your company is shifting to a hybrid environment, adopting a fully remote model, or redesigning your entire technology estate, consider Kyndryl’s story a case study. We’ve distilled our lessons learned into three pillars to frame your hybrid modernization.

Pillar 1: Dedicated leadership

Depending on the size and scope of the project, enabling your organization for hybrid work will take considerable time and effort and will almost certainly present challenges. Employees will need clear direction, unwavering commitment, and continued reassurance from leadership at every stage of the journey.

Before embarking on a digital evolution to support hybrid or remote work, your company’s leaders should:

Synthesize strategic priorities

Everything cascades from your C-suite, where executives must align hybrid workplace aspirations with broader business objectives. By connecting the “what” to the “why” and driving the “how,” you can provide a cohesive vision and tangible reason for the transformation. This alignment also gives those responsible for executing the strategy a clear understanding of its goals.

Kyndryl’s workplace modernization coincided with our journey to become an independent company.

After synthesizing our digital transformation objectives with our plans for organizational growth, three strategic priorities emerged:

  • Simplify legacy processes and environments
  • Enrich user experiences for employees and customers
  • Reduce security risks and the overall cost of technology operations

Each objective reflects a business imperative; however, they collectively support Kyndryl’s larger mission to be a partner and employer of choice.

Collaborate across departments and locations

Workplace transformation transcends titles, departments, and in many cases, time zones, making it crucial for your leaders to solicit input and help from stakeholders across the organization. This company-wide collaboration increases operational efficiencies and ensures hybrid work initiatives benefit your entire workforce.

When planning Kyndryl’s workplace modernization, our leadership worked with global counterparts in virtually every department to establish policies and procedures that support a remote-first environment. Three teams played pivotal roles in the process:

  • CIO office: Our CIO office began planning Kyndryl’s workplace transformation several months before our official launch as an independent company in November 2021. This foresight allowed us to analyze numerous technology vendors before choosing a partner whose solutions could power our hybrid workplace model. Following several months co-creating with leaders from various practice areas and markets, the CIO team unveiled a three-phase, enterprise-wide change management plan.
  • Human resources: After researching workplace and cultural sensitivities within regional markets, our human resources department drafted the Kyndryl Flexible Workplace Policy, a corporate directive that’s structured enough to deploy globally, yet flexible enough to adjust locally. Country leaders now customize this document to accommodate their unique circumstances while operating within established guidelines.
  • Real estate and facilities: Our Real Estate and Data Center Services team manages Kyndryl’s portfolio of offices and facilities, ensuring all locations are equipped to deliver consistent onsite experiences for employees and customers. As one component of this effort, the group introduced an integrated workplace management system and an accompanying app that employees who need or want to be in the office use to choose their workspace or meeting room for the day or week.

In truth, everyone can and should contribute to your workplace transformation, regardless of their status, location, or business unit. By breaking down internal silos and driving collaboration among individuals, teams, and practice areas, you can inspire action, foster acceptance, and implement change at scale.

Communicate and celebrate

When executing your hybrid strategy, your executives need to champion the cause tirelessly. Sharing progress, celebrating successes, and being transparent builds trust and generates excitement among employees.

Within Kyndryl, our Chairman and CEO, Martin Schroeter, kicked off global communications for our workplace transformation with an open mic livestream. He used the platform to share details about our exclusive technology partner and outline timeframes for our transition to new tools.

Our communications teams and executive office then began disseminating information about the transition with emails, videos, blog and newsletter articles, and weekly intranet posts. Today, employees can use three digital collaboration hubs to find news, FAQs, best practices, and quick links to application-specific insights and training.

By remaining relentlessly devoted to your transformation efforts, providing ongoing updates and guidance, and engaging employees across your organization, your leadership team can co-create a sustainable workplace model that evolves as your company grows.

Advice from one CIO to another...
Don’t underestimate the importance of clear, consistent messaging about why you are changing. The change story begins with the executive team, but it should be understood and echoed by every employee.

Michael Bradshaw

Chief Information Officer, Kyndryl

Pillar 2: Adaptive culture

Even if the term “company culture” seems ambiguous, the collection of values, beliefs, and behaviors that define your organization can be a powerful enabler of workplace transformation. A well-defined, yet adaptive, culture provides a guiding light for all areas of your business, particularly during periods of substantial change.

When establishing a cultural foundation that facilitates remote or hybrid work, you need to:

Define your values

Your company’s mission and core values create an ethos that guides every strategic project you undertake, including hybrid work campaigns.

After Kyndryl began operating as an independent enterprise in 2021, we hosted Culture Exchange, an online brainstorm that invited employees from around the world to share ideas and feedback on the culture they’d like implemented for our new company.

Using this information, we identified six core principles that serve as building blocks for The Kyndryl Way. These cultural tenets underpin everything we do, from the way we engage with and increase value for customers to how we organize ourselves and work.

Promote cultural engagement

Culture thrives when employees connect with your organization’s mission, both literally and figuratively. However, the physical separation inherent to hybrid work can complicate or even prevent the type of engagement that fuels innovation and advances business initiatives.

Kyndryl’s success hinges on our ability to rally our global workforce around The Kyndryl Way. As we consider our daily work, we continually seek avenues to reinforce the symbols, behaviors, and systems that strengthen our culture.

For example, to help bring the values of “Flat” and “Fast” to life, we’re eliminating processes that prioritize approval over accountability. Unless approvals are mandatory, these tools and checks will be permanently removed from our workplace systems, giving decision-making authority to those who work most closely with customers.

Appoint internal advocates

Passionate employees are your best advocates, particularly when establishing your corporate culture. Imagine the power of recruiting internal advocates to help drive your workplace modernization.

To help activate our aspirational culture and bring The Kyndryl Way to life, we established the Culture Ambassador Network. This global team of volunteer advocates, which now stands at more than 700 members, is organized into local groups that include three types of roles:

  • Executive sponsors own The Kyndryl Way action plan, providing leadership and support for local groups
  • Core ambassadors co-create and mobilize the culture change execution plan and link our culture change to customers
  • Influencers support culture execution at the ground level and identify areas for improvement

Culture Ambassadors typically devote between two to four hours each week to help champion The Kyndryl Way and contribute to local initiatives and culture-related action plans. As a coalition, they continue to drive engagement for Kyndryl’s culture activation and transformation moving forward.

There’s no doubt that it takes a substantial investment of time and capital to establish an adaptive company culture. However, when elements of an inclusive workplace are blended into your digital transformation strategy, your employees and customers will reap the benefits.

Passionate employees are your best advocates, particularly when establishing your corporate culture.

Pillar 3: Transformative technology

Although technology may seem like the predominant component of any digital transformation, the Kyndryl philosophy places people at the heart of workplace modernization. To construct a digital-first environment that produces an optimal employee experience, you must:

Create a technical blueprint

When crafting a hybrid workplace strategy, consider how location diversity, user preferences, and corporate capabilities can impact employee experience and, by extension, customer satisfaction and business performance. Pay special attention to how you deliver the technology and support your workforce, regardless of where employees choose to work.

At Kyndryl, we designed a technical blueprint that addresses three elements we’ve deemed essential to creating and sustaining our modern workplace:

  1. Support services. Through a combination of services engineering and automation, we’re streamlining our support systems and programs by providing more self-help capabilities for remote use and “tech bar” services for in-office troubleshooting. These efforts promote proactive issue resolution, reduce call center volume, and enable employees to seek help at their convenience.
  2. Device management. To enhance device management, we’re shifting to an evergreen model—an agile approach to device and operating systems management that emphasizes making small, iterative updates on an ongoing basis. This shift helps to speed issue resolution, minimize machine downtime, and improve network security.
  3. Facility modernization. Though still in the initial stages of design, each of our office buildings will eventually be fitted with hot desks, collaboration spaces, war rooms, and other IT and security amenities to create a consistent, intuitive, and creative environment for employees and customers.
Choose robust applications

The digital tools you provide employees will profoundly affect individual performance, which can have a direct impact on company success. This makes selecting the right technology partner one of the most important business decisions you’ll have to make.

For Kyndryl, we wanted to deliver a robust suite of collaboration tools that would enable our employees to work and serve customers seamlessly, whether they’re in the office, out in the field, or working from any other location. It was essential that the devices and applications we chose for our technology stack would make it easy for every individual to:

  • Contribute to meetings and brainstorming sessions
  • Share ideas and receive feedback with their team and others
  • Interact with colleagues, partners, and customers around the world

Ultimately, we decided the Microsoft 365 platform and its suite of fully integrated applications would best enable our global workforce to collaborate and ideate, whether working together or asynchronously. We migrated to the new platform in 2022 and will continue to update our IT framework and build new digital capabilities on Microsoft Azure as our company grows.  

Secure your enterprise

Traditional cybersecurity programs rely on an array of digital tools to defend against multiple types of cyber intrusions. This piecemeal, reactive approach limits your ability to predict future threats while leaving your company vulnerable to social engineering and related threats from within.

Newer, analyst-based security methodologies incorporate broader risk management approaches to address each cyber adversary rather than responding to a singular cyber event. By analyzing the capabilities, objectives, and limitations of cyber attackers, you can develop threat profiles to guide decision-making and customize prevention strategies for key assets.

At Kyndryl, we’ve embraced this mindset and are moving from a vulnerability-focused defense strategy to an intelligence-driven framework. This move will allow us to:

  • Predict areas of weakness before they can be exploited
  • Leverage data to understand the tactics and techniques of bad actors
  • Prioritize investments to address specific cybersecurity limitations
  • Reduce our attack surface and lower overall risk to the business

Shifting from a conventional cybersecurity posture is essential to Kyndryl’s mission of creating a resilient network and combatting persistent cyber threats. In time, our employees will play a greater role in the process, proactively managing and thwarting attacks while enhancing internal efficiencies.

The right technology, combined with a highly responsive support system and a strong cybersecurity plan, will help your employees work more efficiently and effectively wherever they’re located.

Continuing the journey

Workplace modernization is a journey, not a destination. Whether by choice or necessity, your approach to hybrid work will almost certainly evolve. In fact, it needs to.

At Kyndryl, we’re iterating as our company matures and using lessons learned in the process to help our customers. Plans for our ongoing workplace evolution will serve to:

  • Refine workplace culture. While we’ve established our cultural foundation with The Kyndryl Way, we’ll continue to define and refine when, where, and how we infuse these values into our work environments. Every workplace decision we make or project we launch must align with and contribute to a modern and inclusive employee experience that’s consistent and equitable for all.
  • Support organizational diversity. Since Kyndryl has employees based in more than 60 countries, we’ll continually update our systems, processes, and policies to accommodate varying views and modes of working. Increased diversity, coupled with the collection of skills and perspectives that it affords, will allow us to address additional challenges and opportunities as our global footprint expands.
  • Promote collective accountability. The long-term sustainability of Kyndryl’s workplace transformation will be determined by the degree to which we adhere to the first two imperatives. With the technology we deploy and behavior we model, every employee will have the tools they need to work with purpose and urgency—all while holding themselves accountable to a vision of shared growth. 

In the end, our goal is to ensure the elements of a modern and inclusive workplace become synonymous with the Kyndryl employee experience, a permanent beacon that helps attract and retain employees and better serve our customers.

Even as hybrid and remote work become central to the way an increasing number of organizations do business, this contemporary style of workplace enablement is but one byproduct of a much larger phenomenon reshaping organizations worldwide.

Future-focused companies are recognizing the need for more inclusivity, equitability, and sustainability and are committing the time and capital resources to weave these things into the fabric of everything they do. Digital modernization provides the conduit for this transformation.

Moving forward, employees and employers will continue redefining their roles in this process, ushering in a business and cultural revolution of which the ripple effects will be felt long after the excitement generated by hybrid and remote initiatives fades.

Auriol Stevens is Vice President of Workplace Experience for Kyndryl. Dennis Perpetua is a Distinguished Engineer and CTO of the Digital Workplace Services practice for Kyndryl.