How permanent are some of the pandemic-induced changes going to be?

2.7k views2 Upvotes13 Comments

Chairman, Sacramento Angels, Self-employed
It's been a huge “forced march” experiment. It has forced people to embrace some virtual technologies they might not have in the past. If you've worked for a large enterprise tech company and managed teams around the world, you're used to doing virtual teaming. But it was not the mainstay of how people interact. It was more isolated. I think the pandemic has forced everybody to learn how to interact in those environments. I feel I've seen a lot of innovations around keeping people engaged in those environments. How do you stay in touch with people? How do you meet new people that you haven't met before? This has truly forced people out of their comfort zone and it's skills building that is going to be here for a long time. I think it is going to disrupt a lot of the ways people think about how they run their businesses as well. I don't know that it's a disruption, as much as it's an opportunity to really do things differently. It's a strengthening exercise for how people build viable, sustainable business models. It's going to make organizations and businesses stronger over the long haul.
Product Management, Public Trust Services, 10,001+ employees
I think a lot about how the pandemic changes compliance obligations. There are physical in-person audits that take place in data centers to determine whether or not the controls are actually being met. We've had to figure out how to accomplish that when physical presence for audits isn't possible. These audits have traditionally been done in a very interactive, real time, in-person way. You might set up a specific room for the auditors and the people supporting the audit for a couple of weeks where they could plan out insight visits across the globe. In a world where in-person visits aren't possible, it's forced our auditors to rethink the way that they approach their compliance offering. This has allowed them to really open up to the idea of verifying things like the existence of backup power via remote mechanisms (FaceTime, Hangouts, Zoom, etc) rather than in person. It has also forced us to double down on our automation related to compliance, because we can have a more open mind with our auditors in regards to the way in which process should typically work. It’s not a weakening of compliance by any means, but reimagining what a compliance regime looks like in the world of COVID. Changes like that are going to be durable. These processes, as they've evolved, are frankly materially better than what we were doing, both in coverage and in time of investment. It forces an up front investment to retrain people, revise processes, and build tooling.
1 3 Replies
VP of Partnerships and Strategic Advisor in Software, 51 - 200 employees

It's interesting that you brought up the whole inspection process, the whole certification process, the whole auditing process. I think that a lot of people for a long time did these audits in an impromptu cycle, they had a process that was well documented, but they didn't follow that process completely. They'd set up the war room. They'd cover a little bit each day, depending on who was available. I always assumed that the audit was a better audit, because people couldn't just plan their response. They had to do a little bit off the cuff and they had to riff it a little bit. And they didn't know when something was going to be inspected, so there was a little surprise factor. I always felt web trust audits and things like that were done in that way, because it lended some credibility to it. Do you think you've lost some of that credibility by having to be more regimented and more thoroughly planned out as to when something is going to happen?

Product Management, Public Trust Services, 10,001+ employees

I don't think so. There's always a bit of an adversarial relationship between an auditee and an auditor. Which is why I think compliance is not the same thing as security. Your objective is to provide them the necessary information that they'll understand, not so much the larger picture. We're not seeking advice, we're seeking conformance assessment. There was too much faith put into these physical assessments of conformity, in that you based conformance on what you saw was correct at this particular time. Auditors are now being forced to recognize there's more of an adversarial relationship than a collaborative one. You might be taking a more collaborative approach, but their brand is dependent upon them doing competent assessment, and so that their assertions are actually valid. And I think that will manifest into more automation, not just in gathering of evidence, but producing reliable, verifiable evidence. I think that's an interesting trend that maybe isn't directly apparent when looking at the impacts of COVID, but is something that I think we might be on the cusp of.

VP of Partnerships and Strategic Advisor in Software, 51 - 200 employees

The automation, reproducibility, and ongoing, continuous validation that you're thinking compliance is going to have as a future, I think it's happening in other areas as well. In software development, there's sometimes vast differences between spec and implementation. Most of the time, there's a lot of hidden little artifacts, personality artifacts, or maybe relationship artifacts or, some decisions that were made off the cuff and not documented well through that process. The cost of that isn't really recognized until you have to absolutely trust a piece of software or until you have to support that software. I think that that kind of automation has gotten a significant jolt in the last year as things get more and more automated and reproducible.

Product Management, Public Trust Services, 10,001+ employees
I've always been a remote worker, traveling extensively. I think that it's been gratifying to me to see other people learn how to effectively work in an environment like that. People are now more accommodating to the patterns that are necessary for remote work. But I'm not quite convinced that it is going to continue to be the de facto way of working. I know that some of the projects that I've worked on could be very isolating for people who live alone. I've got an army of family outside my home office. I think that healthy teams accommodate that spectrum. And I think that we will see a swing back in regards to work patterns. Not 100% back to the way it was, but I think that that swing back will happen very quickly once it's possible.
VP of Partnerships and Strategic Advisor in Software, 51 - 200 employees
In business school, they say, don't look at your sunk cost as an indication of how committed you are to a strategy. But a lot of these companies are enduring significant costs to remain productive during this phase. I think it makes it more likely that those changes will be enduring. Many changes are going to be around for quite some time, not only due to how long this has gone on, but also because of the significant kinds of process, environmental, tooling and capabilities that have been modified through this. That's both a good thing and a bad thing.
IT Operating Unit Director in Education, 10,001+ employees
More flexible remote work options for staff are here to stay in order to remain competitive as an employer, especially in areas where productivity can be reasonably assumed to be as good if not better than on-premise. 

In the academic sector, the ability to offer virtual and/or hybrid learning is now going to be a viable option instead of being reserved for certain programs or for-profit institutions. 

Technology adoption and perhaps even innovation (particularly in higher-ed) will be viewed as a business-critical process rather than a distraction. Or at the very least, given more consideration and attention than often received pre-pandemic.
CIO in Energy and Utilities, 11 - 50 employees
New normal. There are benefits like eliminating the journey to office and back and having more me-time. Also it's more convenient for companies to shrink on spaces and reduce cost of services.
Senior Information Security Manager in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
I think the two biggest were work from home and the move to cloud computing.

I think both of those are permanent.
ISSO and Director of the IRU in Healthcare and Biotech, 10,001+ employees
I think a lot of it will be permanent. This is a way for us to cut down on costs for office spaces, supplies etc.
Senior Director, Defense Programs in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
There’s still a lot of “when we get back to the office” but I do hope distributed work remains a first class option for many permanently.

I think metropolitan cities come back big. There’s a lot of gravity in location, and businesses went there because to cities because it’s were people were. So “flee the cities” I don’t think will last (but the articles will 🙄).

Remote team building… isn’t going to be permanent. 😅

Virtual conferences… won’t be all virtual permanently, though I do hope in-person ones become more accessible and friendly to families (we’ve all seen your kid run in the room Sue, they’re welcome at events).

MOST IMPORTANT - leaders that have shown compassion and flexibility with each other and themselves - this is the most important permanent pandemic-induced change.
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Pretty permanent for sure

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One thing I do is include them in the meetings about the changes that will take place and get their opinion.  I also lay out the pros and cons of the changes and how it will effect us as a team moving forward.

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