5 ways CIOs are redefining teamwork for a hybrid world


CIO Paul Blowers describes the past 16 months at accounting firm Plante Moran as “a grand experiment” in getting work done. Throughout, Blowers has flexed, reconfigured, and stress-tested his mostly remote, 120-person IT team to determine how productivity, creativity, and culture would hold up through the pandemic.

The experiment proved successful, and the company is making hybrid work permanent. Now Blowers has an eye on the long-term effects that permanent hybrid work will have on teamwork.

“Feeding relationships is so important. We anticipate doing idea jams and war rooms and brainstorming meetings in person. I think they’re highly productive when you can whiteboard and read non-verbal cues around the room. But we’re also investing in technology so that virtual participants can be a part of those sessions,” Blowers says. It’s a work in progress, he adds.

Most CIOs face similar grand experiments as hybrid work environments are becoming permanent. They are evaluating which team structures have been successful remotely and are looking to replicate them, while balancing innovation, collaboration, mentorship, and culture transfer, which have traditionally been done in person.

Some 30% of IT leaders surveyed by IDC say they prefer an “online-first” policy for collaboration, and practices that started during the pandemic will likely continue indefinitely. While many workers say they have been more productive working remotely, that doesn’t always equate to better teamwork.

“We’ve squeezed a lot of innovation out of necessity, but some of that serendipitous innovation that occurs through creative collision has been less,” says Aaron De Smet, senior partner at McKinsey and Co., who spoke at the IDG Future of Work Summit in October.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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