The role of the CHRO in a post-pandemic era

Steve Wood, Vice President, APJ, Aruba, highlights three ways CHROs can tap into the enterprise network for a stronger HR approach in 2023.
By: | January 25, 2023

It would be easy to make the mistake of thinking that the relationship between the enterprise network and the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) is a new one.

While the CHRO has always had a relationship with the enterprise network technology, the significance of this relationship was never quite realised until remote and hybrid working arrangements came into play.

According to a recent workplace report by Cushman & Wakefield, the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is leading the global demand for office space, accounting for more than 75 percent of the global forecast for office-based jobs between 2020 and 2030. With the varying adoption rates of hybrid working arrangements and evolving cultural expectations across the region, there is a need for organisations to constantly adapt accordingly.

Technology is no longer just a functional tool for employees, as it now shapes every aspect of an employee’s work experience.

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“While the CHRO has always had a relationship with the enterprise network technology, the significance of this relationship was never quite realised until remote and hybrid working arrangements came into play.” – Steve Wood, Vice President, APJ, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company

As organisations continue to adopt remote and hybrid working arrangements moving into 2023, how can the CHRO tap into the enterprise network for a stronger HR approach for the year to come?

Here are three ways that the CHRO can achieve this in 2023.

1.  Create systems that facilitate bring your own device (BYOD)

With technology being an integral aspect of the home and workplace, particularly amid hybrid working arrangements, it is natural that everyone has an opinion on it.

Increasingly, companies will find that it is impossible to attract and retain talent unless they are willing to provide the flexibility for employees to work how they like, and with the technological tools they desire.

In fact, the global BYOD market is projected to grow USD587.3 billion by 2030, expanding at a 16.2% percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2022 to 2030, with the APAC BYOD market forecasted to develop quickly during the same time.

But how can organisations manage this? It is not a simple question of device range.

Firstly, how do you ensure that all devices can connect seamlessly, both remotely and in the workplace? Keeping in mind that employees now have much higher expectations of, and less tolerance for IT issues in the workplace after having worked remotely for the past two years.

Secondly, how do you ensure security across the board, with new devices being added and removed each day?  

The answer is with a network that is built for BYOD and supporting the remote workplace (or microbranch) as well as the office. This means a flexible infrastructure that supports plug-and-play remote access points (RAP) and is secured through an automated Zero Trust security model that provides role- and device-based network access control.

2.  Build an infrastructure that is ready for the workplace of the future

In addition to being able to support hybrid working and BYOD, the network also needs to support the new, more collaborative, and social ways of office-use – the ‘hotelification’ of the workplace. This means having easily bookable meeting spaces, where employees can work together with both in-person and remote colleagues, as well as automated security solutions to manage the increased number of clients and guests who visit the office.

Providing a workplace of the future also involves designing an enhanced, differentiated experience that will encourage employees to choose to work from the office or to choose your company to begin with. This could be as simple as doing a flawless job on providing those collaborative meeting spaces that the home is unable to replicate.

Today, employees are also demanding that their workplaces be more environmentally sustainable. According to JLL, employees across APAC want greater representation in their company’s sustainability initiatives, with 50% of them expressing a desire to contribute to sustainability agendas. With six in ten employees believing that sustainability is a key factor for engaging the workforce, this is not something that CHROs can ignore any longer.

The network can help here as well, by allowing the business to track and reduce energy utilisation, carbon emissions and physical resource usage.

When it comes to achieving this tech-enabled, flexible working environment, it is clear that the CHRO and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) need to collaborate seamlessly and potentially as part of a joint ‘Digital Workplace’ taskforce.

3.  Get creative about how the HR department can leverage digital solutions

Alongside IT, HR is one of the departments that has been thrust into the spotlight over the past couple of years. Albeit once a more backend function, HR now needs to be more present and visible than ever before.

In addition to mental health and well-being becoming an increasing priority, hybrid working has also created a new challenge around inclusivity. How then, can we ensure that employees, working remotely or physically, continue to feel included and aligned with the company’s values?

While these are all complex issues, CHROs should feel reassured that there is a whole host of new digital solutions that can help, from communication apps that help boost team bonding to new digital platforms that support wellbeing initiatives. All of which, however, rely on a strong network.

By working closely with the CIO, CHROs can gain a better understanding of what innovative solutions are viable from a network infrastructure, security and data privacy standpoint, and work to implement them for the benefit of their HR teams and the wider company.

A more empowering relationship

For far too long, CHROs may have felt limited by, or at the mercy of, their company’s network infrastructure.

Another perspective is to say that the business drives the network. So therefore, as a key decision maker responsible for the employees that keep a business running, it is time for the CHRO to take greater ownership and see the relationship for what it can be – supportive, fulfilling and truly empowering.

About the author: Steve Wood is Vice President, APJ, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company