CIO Connect – Ready to move back to the office?

CIO Connect is an informal national online forum to enable us to have face-to-face conversations in real time and is based on leveraging your trusted network of CIOCAN peers where you can openly and confidently talk about issues that you are facing and also the solutions and innovations that can be shared with all of us. It is different than other sessions as no one is trying to sell you anything and everyone is focused on creating a valuable experience worthy of your time investment.

As these sessions are not webinars, the resulting discussions are informal and unstructured. The topics that are suggested are general guidelines. We seek to have active participation from all attendees. The volunteer Moderators record some high level notes of the themes discussed, but at all times protect the privacy of the members by not attributing actual quotes to any of the participants. In addition, these sessions are not recorded.

The most recent CIO Connect session was held on July 29th. The discussion topic for this session centred on the theme of: What does a “move back to work” mean for your organization? What does the “new normal” look like? What is the impact on the CIO role? What are you doing differently now? What are the learnings that you can share with your peers?

At a high level, the summary discussion from that session is as follows:

1) Some of the challenges being faced with going back to work?

  • Real Estate – managing shared spaces, consolidation of real estate, having enough real estate.
  • Managing the fleet of laptops procured for work from home and making sure they are still available if we need to revert to work from home again.
  • Decisions as to what to do with on premise hardware – is it now time to move to the cloud?

2) Human factors related to going back to work?

  • Some companies are leaving options re continuing to work from home open to employees. It helps if the decision to work from home is supported by the CEO. Employees won’t feel they are looked upon badly if they want to continue to work from home.
  • Some sectors have issued directives to return to work due to the nature of the work (e.g. education).
  • Extroverts and those that need social interaction are looking forward to increased in-person connections.
  • Some anxieties will still remain as long as we are in a pandemic – worry about job loses, cost cutting, outsourcing.

3) Impacts to IT Strategy/Work Plans?

  • Most commented that the IT Strategy has not changes, but priorities have shifted.
  • Budget costs may have been deferred some initiatives, but not outright cancelled them.
  • Security agenda has received much more focus out of necessity due to increased remote work.
  • IT Leadership being invited to the Executive Table more often and value of IT is more appreciated due to increased necessity for technology and digital transformation.

4) Silver Linings?

  • Greater appreciation among the C-suite for digital initiatives and the cultural changes required.
  • Reduced travel and reduced commute times.
  • People feel better connected, especially if geographically dispersed.
  • Able to opportunistically push the technology agenda (e.g. security, remote work/collaboration) due to necessity.
  • May be a softening of very strict governance protocols that became a bit more relaxed during the pandemic (e.g. procurement).

At the conclusion of the July 29thsession a poll was taking regarding the members’ experience with the session. The feedback was once again overwhelmingly positive with 88% of the participants rating the session as “worth my time and would recommend it to my peers” and that they “intend to attend on a regular basis”. The attendees also strongly recommended that we do these sessions on a monthly basis. We encourage all members to participate in these CIO Connect sessions. If you have a specific topic in mind that you would like to be the focus of a future session, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know.


Gary Davenport                                         Kyoko Kobayashi

Host, CIO Connect                                    Moderator, CIO Connect

Past National President                             Board of Director

CIO Association of Canada                       Toronto Chapter