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IT Execs, Industry Professionals Offer Takeaways on Hybrid Work

Transparency, flexibility and mutual trust are key but typically, adjusting to hybrid work is not a one-size-fits-all venture, panelists said at the recent California Public Sector CIO Academy.

Hybrid work, not remote, is becoming the new reality for many in government IT, and public- and private-sector technology executives discussed what that means at the recent California Public Sector CIO Academy* in Sacramento. One panelist and a moderator from state government joined two industry panelists in offering perspectives on potential pitfalls and where things stand:

  • Enrique Parker is chief information officer at the California Department of Human Resources, a role he has had since November. A veteran IT staffer of 25 years whose experience spans the financial, insurance and retail industries, he was previously chief technology officer at Covered California from May 2019-October, an entity he first joined in February 2017. He was panel moderator.
  • Gary Christofferson is director of solution engineering at VMware, a role he has had since November 2020. There, he leads the pre-sales solution engineering team across California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii, per LinkedIn. Christofferson has been with the company since November 2015 and was previously senior director of worldwide systems engineering at LogMein.
  • Calvin McGee II is chief information officer at the California Department of Real Estate, a position he has had since March 2022. A 23-year state service veteran, McGee’s previous roles span the departments of Technology, Parks and Recreation, and Education. He was most recently information technology deputy director for the California State Treasurer’s Office from May 2021-March 2022.
  • Dan Simmons is account executive at Dell Technologies, a role he has had since March 2019. A longtime private-sector IT executive, he was previously senior solutions sales executive for cloud solutions at Lenovo from July 2018-February 2019 — his second consecutive position with a focus on cloud.
Among the key points the panelists shared:

  • Burnout is real. It happened during the pandemic when remote work blurred the boundaries between home and office, and it still happens today in the era of hybrid work.
  • Micromanagement is one of the biggest enemies of remote work. It’s wholly incompatible with telework and it doesn’t work as a strategy. Hoteling and hybrid work require different mindsets from leaders, and different approaches. Mutual trust and flexibility are key.
  • Be transparent and work to create a culture of openness. Let staffers know your expectations now that the office has invaded their home. Let them know they need to be fair with their time — to themselves and to the company as well.
  • Changes in how we work have had differing generational impacts. More than one-third of millennials have switched jobs since March 2020, Parker said at the Feb. 15 event. But somewhat conversely, Christofferson said, some Gen Z workers want to work in the office to gain “tribal knowledge” and learn from experienced hands.
On the possibility of burnout, Christofferson said: “There was a tendency ... to be always online, always connected, always doing something, right? You couldn’t, couldn’t pull yourself away from the laptop. And so that got to be a real problem.”

On openness, McGee said: “One of the things that happens when people are teleworking, they don’t get all the information they used to have, right? All the informal lines of communication are gone. ... Then they create their own information, you know, with the rumor mill. And so, we definitely want to stop that. The main way that I’ve found that you do that is by creating a cultural openness.”

On convening staff, Parker said: “Introverts, extroverts, not one strategy will work for everybody at the end of the day. I think that is upon the leader to recognize how to bring people together, (what) they are comfortable with.”

On the popularity of remote work, Simmons said: “The genie is out of the bottle. Your people that work for you, they like the flexibility ... that remote work offers. ... Not all workers want to be 100 percent remote. But they want the flexibility to be able to ... be remote.”

*The California Public Sector CIO Academy is hosted by Government Technology magazine, a publication of e.Republic, which also produces Industry Insider — California.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.