As the world slowly reopens from COVID-19 quarantines, many businesses are looking at how to bring their employees back into the office, including plans to safely phase people back in, rather than having a large amount of people all return at once. With the potential for a staggered return or shifting schedules, technology logistics need to be taken into consideration.
Infrastructure and Equipment Challenges
How did you accomplish the task of moving your staff to a work from home position? For some roles, the work from home transition may have been done using a laptop without additional screens or equipment. However, to ensure productivity did not drop off during the recent stay at home orders, did you allow your staff to take home extra monitors, docking stations, and other office equipment? If so, moving to a staged return, with staff alternating between the office and home, will create a new logistical challenge, as moving equipment back and forth every other day, or every other week, is likely untenable.
To continue without disruption, consider what your staff needs to remain productive in this transition back to the office and assist in acquiring the additional equipment required to work jointly in the office and from home. This assistance can range from purchasing additional equipment for full-time home use to loaning items that will not be actively used during the transition. For specialty items beyond screens, printers or docking stations, develop a schedule that provides your staff access to equipment in the office on a regular basis, and consider additional cleaning or maintenance needed to ensure availability and safe use when staff are scheduled to be in your building.
Was your staff able to access needed applications or data to be able to perform their day-to-day tasks? Did you have cloud services in place before the shutdown? Perhaps you quickly pivoted to using a cloud option but it wasn’t the right solution. It is apparent that some ability to work from home will be necessary going forward. To help with that transition, cloud services and cloud hosted data make access to vital company data and processes easier with a remote or partially remote workforce. If you struggled during this initial stay-at-home period, now may be the time to evaluate which cloud solutions could increase your efficiencies.
Network and data security will remain a principal concern. During this timeframe, there will be attempts to take advantage of the confusion through ransomware, social engineering, and vulnerabilities from home devices. As a first step, your network and infrastructure management should remain familiar with these risks and implement best practices for security. In addition, keeping your staff trained about these potential exploits is a continuous process and should continue or increase as they move between work locations.
As many of us made a quick transition to home offices with the rise of COVID-19, consider how well your remote work capability has functioned. Did remote work expose some weaknesses that you need to shore up, or reveal some potential efficiencies that can be realized? If you have processes that were strained or need reinforcement, consider technology solutions that can provide benefits during the transition back to the office. Many organizations will likely not return to a “normal” office for quite some time and will be looking for ways to coordinate and plan projects without having everyone in the same room. Consider technologies that enable the workflows of your business regardless of location.
If your business is facing a situation where you have fewer people to do the same amount of work or more, consider ways to automate the repetitive and mundane tasks so that your team can focus on things that best utilize their talents. Tasks that can be easily automated include typing data into multiple systems, exporting data for merging into reports, and preparing documents to send via postal mail.
Using electronic signature tools can help ease the process of moving, scanning, and manually signing documents. Similarly, move your report creation away from compiling manual spreadsheets to automated data collection with analytic tools to speed your ability to see what is happening in your business and enable you to make decisions faster. Digital workflow platforms help move projects and tasks to completion, keep your staff on track and in touch, while giving you insights into overall progress when you’re not able to have face-to-face discussions on a regular basis.
Finally, the collaboration tools used for remote work will be just as valuable in the office to maintain social distancing and alternating scheduling of office space. Continued use of platforms such as Teams, Slack, or Zoom will support these goals.
The evolution from a quarantine remote work environment back into the office that meets the new safety guidelines requires planning. Technology is only one piece of the big picture, but an important one and one that will help smooth the transition. You can reach out to our technology experts for a complimentary consultation to assess your needs. A successful transition is paramount to building a stronger foundation for your business as you move forward.