CDOs Express Concern for Culture and Retention

Community Blog
Written by Liz Ramey

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

With summer turning into fall and kids back in school, we can’t quite put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, and everyone’s ‘new normal’ is looking a little bit different. For C-suite executives, that means continuing to lead and manage through uncertainty while trying to sustain their focus on their top priorities for the year.  

CDOs from Evanta communities are dealing with issues of culture and employee engagement through a prolonged stretch of remote work. At the same time, they are driving initiatives forward to improve data governance, promote data literacy and create new data operating models.

To learn more about data leaders and their views on the return to a new “normal,” we captured their sentiments in late June through a pulse survey. Here are six things we learned from data leaders in our communities.


1. Equally Concerned About Engagement & Retention

When asked about their top business concerns, an almost equal number of CDOs (65%) selected “maintaining culture and engagement” (65%) as employee retention and recruitment (64%). This could reflect the challenges across the C-suite with maintaining organizational culture in a remote environment and grappling with The Great Resignation.


2. More than 40% Have Employees in the Office

When it comes to their return-to-office plans, 41% of data leaders said they have “some employees back in the office now.” Others plan to return in less than three months (20%) or in three to six months (30%). Of course, timelines may need to be adjusted in some regions due to the Delta variant. But the data seems to suggest that leaders are eager to foster in-person interactions when it’s safe and possible to do so.


3. 80% Offer a Hybrid Work Option

On the future of remote work at their organizations, 80% of CDOs report that their companies will offer some type of hybrid option. A mere 3% of data leaders say remote work will not be an option going forward. The overwhelming majority of organizations moving to a hybrid workforce illuminates the new world of flexible work.


4. Long-Term Effects of Remote Work

When asked about their top concerns about the long-term effects of working remotely, 27% of data and analytics leaders are most concerned about the ability to maintain company culture, followed closely by team communication and alignment (23%). Employee burnout and/or morale was the third concern, cited by 20% of respondents. 


5. Resuming Business Travel 

A mere 8% of CDOs have resumed business travel currently, while 22% plan to travel in less than three months. Again, with the rise in the Delta variant, these numbers might skew a bit more toward a conservative view or reflect shifting company policies toward business travel. 


6. Attending In-Person Events and Meetings

Data leaders are cautiously optimistic about returning to in-person events and meetings. 64% of CDOs are either very excited or somewhat excited about returning to in-person gatherings. 


Looking more closely at this qualitative data, CDOs are keen to be in person when they can clearly see the value and are looking forward to connecting with their teams in person. Many are tired of virtual interactions, but also interested in proceeding when it is safe to do so.

Looking forward to the more impactful engagement of live meetings and hoping we can continue them safely!”

Excited about face-to-face interaction because there is no substitute for building culture and fostering innovation.”

Ready to participate in a safe and secure environment with trusted partners.”

A great break from virtual overload.”

You can view the detailed results from our June pulse survey here. For more information about our CDO community gatherings, check our Calendar page or find your regional Evanta community here on our website.

Liz Ramey headshot

Liz Ramey

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CDOs, for CDOs

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