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Your Guide to Managing Technology When Returning to Work

Paul Hager
04/21/2021
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During the past year, many companies and workers have had a crash course in remote working. As more and more people return to the office environment, organizations must now reintegrate those workers and ensure they can remain productive and connected to their colleagues no matter where staff may be located. 

The only way for companies to manage this new world will be to build a technology infrastructure that meets the needs of all your workers, whether they are remote or in an office building. Your Human Resources department will need to draft smart policies, but the IT department will have to implement return-to-work plans that safely and securely bring remote workers back into the office.

Some of the issues you will need to negotiate are:

  • Properly and safely reconnecting all equipment to office networks
  • Controlling sensitive and confidential data saved to personal devices while working from home
  • Audit security risks to identify and respond to potential security incidents that may have occurred while employees were working from home
  • Managing and testing the backup and retention of data on local devices
  • Completing on-site processes for employee terminations that were conducted while working remotely
  • Returning technology, office equipment and other company assets that employees took home

Here are our top 5 steps for managing the re-opening of your offices:

1. Hot Desks Make Cool Offices

One way to make your organization more flexible and responsive is to adopt a hot desk system. Hot desking allows for a safer working environment where new seating capacities are followed, social distancing guidelines are met, and sanitation cleanings are more efficient.

The idea is to allow users to access their desktops and applications from anywhere. Overall, this will provide a better work-life balance where employees can voluntarily return to the office and work in a collaborative environment. 

Making the office technology easier to use makes for a more pleasant work experience. For example, setting up a Microsoft Teams-enabled room allows users to start a Teams meeting in a conference room with one touch of a button. This way, your on-site and remote employees can collaborate and interact more easily than ever. 

2. Remember New and Ex-Employees

During the pandemic many companies had to hire new staff who may have never been to the office. Ensure phone, PC, monitor, docks, etc. are ready before they go to the office. On the flip side, ensure any employee terminations conducted while remote have completed on-site processes as well (i.e. disabling key cards, collecting equipment, scheduling repurpose/cleanup of those devices.)

3. Set Expectations

Remote work becomes more efficient and satisfying when managers set expectations for the frequency, means, and ideal timing of communication for their teams. The same is true when employees return to the office environment. Decide how often people need to be on-site, when in-person meetings are mandatory and what technology can remain at home and which technology is for office use only.

Coordinating with your technology partner or internal IT team is essential to a smooth transition from remote work to back to the office. There are many considerations, from reconnecting computer equipment to security reviews, that must occur to support your users and protect your organization. Be sure to provide advanced notice so the appropriate actions can be taken.

4. Do Not Allow Unsanctioned Devices in the Office

To ensure employees return any office equipment that was taken home. In addition, do not let employees bring personal computers or devices from their home office that have not been enrolled into the corporate network. Only company-provided and authorized equipment should be allowed in the office. This is essential for security as well as to make sure everyone has supported software and tools. As devices come back now is a great time to start an asset tagging project to make sure you know equipment you have and who is using it. See our recent coffee talk HERE where we talk about asset management for IT.

5. Build a Long-Term Strategy

Many companies had to quickly adapt to new realities, which meant adopting VPN, Virtual Desktops, collaboration software, Microsoft Office 365 and mobile applications into their toolkit. Now may be the time to explore new connectivity options that support long-term remote working. Companies many need to upgrade their network connectivity. More than simply staying operational, the right connectivity can help a business maximize productivity and performance, regardless of where its employees are working.

Because of what we’ve gone through over the past year, we are about to enter a new era in the evolution of organizations. The transition from the office environment to remote working was abrupt leaving organizations little time to plan. Returning to the office won’t be nearly as rushed, but it still requires significant preparation and strategy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides a valuable digital resource center for businesses as part of their Path Forward initiative.

Decisions that companies make over the next few months will set the tone for how work will be done in the future. If your company needs help developing a reliable plan for returning to the office and/or optimizing cloud based remote working capabilities, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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