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Leading Through The Myriad Of Digital Distraction — Balancing The Pros And Cons Of ‘All Things Digital’

Networking-Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Networking-Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia-Headshot

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia

Senior Director, Digital Economy, Technology, & Innovation and Cyber. Right. Now. (CRN) Policy Lead, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Kathryn Cameron-headshot

Kathryn Cameron

Chief Operating Officer of Beauceron Security & a Member of the CRN Campaign

Today’s work environment is filled with more distractions than ever, ranging from smart devices, the Internet and social media to team channels, group chats, and more. While seemingly convenient, different alert tones keep notifying us where to look and what to read or answer next. To sum up, the multitude of digital platforms in-house and outside the organization keeps growing, and so do the distractions. This myriad of digital distractions truly begs the question: how can leaders help streamline, achieve focus, and build engagement through an empathetic approach while leading by example?

In an interview with Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, Senior Director of Digital Economy, Technology, and Innovation and Cyber. Right. Now. (CRN) campaign policy lead at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Kathryn Cameron, Chief Operating Officer of Beauceron Security and a member of the CRN campaign, discusses how to balance the pros and cons of digital transformation and the needs of the employee and employer.


Kathryn Cameron: As the competition for talent increases, the workforce has been very clear – flexible working arrangements are here to stay. Organizations are willing to accommodate flexible work environments, including flexible hours and flexibility in work locations for individuals working from home full-time. As a whole, the workforce has expectations that employers will find ways to make work fully accessible remotely. 


Bahr-Gedalia: Speaking of expectations, what expectations does the workforce have with respect to engaging in “all things digital” while staying focused on the tasks at hand? 

Cameron: The consistent expectations I’m seeing for the workforce to successfully tackle “all things digital” require organizations to have clear communications and expectations. The right communication tools are necessary so that digital collaboration is successful. Clear internal processes, specifically who is responsible for what and how items are approved, ensure that individuals can clearly identify any variation from that process. For example, if the HR team follows a specific process to verify any updates to payroll information, any variation from that process should set off a flag for the employee to identify that something might be wrong. Finally, with flexible work hours, employers need to create clarity around when individuals are available for work.


Bahr-Gedalia: What are some trends you see for employers? 

Cameron: The most significant trend I’ve seen in organizations across industries over the past two years is the need to navigate digital transformation. 

Employers have needed to find ways to either empower their workforce remotely or engage with their customer base in a new way. Both of these pushes have created opportunities for businesses to be more competitive and creative in reaching new markets. However, these changes have also opened organizations up to increasing levels of digital risk as they make the choice to become more connected online.


Bahr-Gedalia: You spoke about finding the right balance. New opportunities and reaching new markets are definitely a big bonus. You also mention risks. What risks and challenges do these new expectations of the workforce place on the employer? 

Cameron: Digital transformation comes with the risk of employees having more data, more ways to access it, and consequently, more distractions for a workforce already inundated with new processes and technologies.

This shift to “all things digital” requires organizations to educate their workforce on how to be mindful of their level of distraction. Often this involves education around the value of the information they have access to and what the impact of making errors due to distraction has on the entire company.

Secondly, this requires the employer to provide comprehensive education and support on the internal processes and what to do if someone makes a mistake online, possibly falling victim to a social engineering attack. 


Bahr-Gedalia: How do we achieve the potential of complete digital transformation? 

Cameron: It requires an intentional effort from leaders. Managing this period of transformation requires leaders to stay focused on their economic goals and have an understanding that each individual is going through this period of change. In addition, maintaining an empathetic and positive approach to how we react when digital mistakes happen — the right phishing e-mail can catch anyone at the right time — is an opportunity to build a team with high levels of trust.

This entire shift in how we work is happening in the context of also navigating a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, not to mention the everyday stress people had been carrying previously. This is a significant amount of change to absorb.

Onboarding processes with a personal touch that enable individuals to see the impact their work has on others in the organization, emphasizing how to do their job safely as they change where and when they work, will mitigate the security risks of hybrid environments.

Training, from personal development plans to cybersecurity awareness, can become an opportunity to reinforce an employer’s commitment and increase workforce engagement. 


Bahr-Gedalia: Importantly, how can leaders ensure they lead by example?

Cameron: Sharing what leaders are learning during this digital transformation, reinforcing the importance of connecting with others, and turning any digital mistakes into a positive learning experience for the entire team. This needs to be seen as an effort across the organization, not just the digital transformation or IT teams. All leaders have a role in ensuring a successful transition to a more digitally connected workforce.

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