Jason Conyard had a front-row seat to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier than most IT leaders. Traveling through India and later Singapore in January and February of 2020, Conyard got an inkling of the danger emerging from China and wending its way to other countries.
Conyard, then vice president of IT responsible for managing the technology experience of VMware’s 33,000 employees, began evaluating his supply chains, anticipating capabilities his colleagues would require, and confirming that staff were equipped to work from home. When the coronavirus made landfall in the United States in March, VMware flipped a switch, with most office-based employees told to work from home. Overnight, 95% of VMware employees were working remotely, a stark and swift change by any measure.
“The good news is we already had a lot of the capabilities we needed,” says Conyard, who was promoted to CIO in September after serving more than five years with the software company. “I had no appreciation for how important that would be when the pandemic hit.” Moving forward, Conyard is considering how to help the company navigate a future workplace without borders, and how that will impact technology and talent.
Conyard’s challenge mirrors that of many other IT leaders confronting the global pandemic. Nearly a year into the outbreak, enterprises are investing in contact-tracing, thermal scanners, sensors and other safety tools, and are reimagining offices as flexible work environments. Most IT leaders are enabling real-time communications to facilitate meetings with both physical and virtual attendees, subscribing to hoteling applications to permit workers to book a desk or meeting room for a day, and implementing productivity and collaboration software suited to hybrid workforces.