Returning to the office? Let us help get your business ready.
on 17/09/2020 00:00:00

This year has seen unprecedented changes not only in our personal lives but also in how and where we now work. Many businesses have adapted well to having their staff working from home during lockdown and found that it hasn’t diminished productivity but become a genuinely viable option. So, as restrictions relax and we are encouraged to return to the workplace, most businesses are now looking at their options.

Some will have staff returning on a full-time basis with all staff back to the office, whilst others will have chosen to take a more flexible approach with some staff back on a part-time basis or some working remotely either full or part time. How will your business deal with these new working patterns and how will you plan for this new normal? Is your business set up for staff to work anywhere on any device at any time?

Your new set-up should be effortless. You shouldn’t have to think about it and your customers certainly shouldn’t notice that things have changed… again. After you’ve considered your workplace policy on face masks and social distancing, you will need to think practically about the technical side of things - and this is where we can help. We have set out some areas you will need to consider from a tech point of view to ensure a smooth return to the office.

How your team will be working

Will they have a work-issued device to use at home and a computer in the office? Will they bring a laptop back and forth? Or perhaps they’ll use a personal device at home and a work device in the office? Whatever the set-up, you will need to make sure that your company’s IT security is at the forefront of your mind. All your staff’s devices should be updated with new passwords and the latest versions of operating systems, applications, and security, and that their remote access is working as it should be. Additionally, you’ll need to check that data back-up is being successfully performed each day. This all takes time and so you should set a few hours aside to make sure that everyone in the team is up and running as quickly as possible.

Where devices are being brought back and forth from home to office, do you have a procedure in place should a device be lost or stolen? Are you able to remotely restrict access to company data? Who will take responsibility for ensuring the procedure is followed? If you haven’t already considered these things, now is the time. You will be able to react to any issues that arise more quickly when there’s a plan in place for how to handle them.

How you will communicate

Whilst you were all remote working, you may have relied on apps like Microsoft Teams or Zoom to keep channels of communication open, staff connected and to make sure meetings still went ahead (and were productive). If that worked for you then, keep it up now. It’s great for maintaining engagement and even if everyone is now back to the office, it’s also a good way to comply with distancing regulations. If you have staff working from home, they will still need regular contact with their team and manager too and these are the best tools to use.

If your business hasn’t tried Microsoft Teams, now is a good time to do so. You can find lots of information on how to use Teams on our website or call us and we'll help to get you started.

How your IT infrastructure will be set up

How well are you set up for your new ways of working? It’s possible that when lockdown happened, some of the IT changes that were made were done on a temporary basis - more for speed than for longevity. However, if you’re now looking at permanent home working for some or all your staff, it is possible that your IT still needs to be adjusted. We can advise you on the right network systems to support your new workplace needs and recommend what actions to take for your successful return to the workplace.

  • It is worth considering how your VPN (Virtual Private Network) is performing. Does it suit your needs or would a different one be better now that you know your actual requirements?
  • How about all your devices and hardware? Do they suit the needs of each employee’s role? Many businesses handed out old company laptops in March, just to allow for remote working. However, if some people are working from home now permanently, it’s a good time to see if a different device would help them to do their job more productively. Additionally, as hot-desking is no longer permitted, if this was your set-up, you may need to think about acquiring additional hardware such as phones, keyboards, mice etc. to cover everyone’s needs. Also, consider removing any hardware that is traditionally shared, such as reception desk equipment, meeting room computers, etc.
  • Staff that have been working from home could potentially be bringing equipment back to the office that may need resetting up to connect to the network and re-cabling, etc. If you have had to move desks and furniture around to allow for social distancing measures, this may affect your network set up too.

Moving into semi-permanent flexible working arrangements shouldn’t be a huge upheaval but it is worth taking the time to plan for it. In a perfect world, your people should be able to walk back in, sit at their desk and get going. Possibly after a little back-to-work chatter. The only changes they should notice are those put in place to ensure social distancing.

If things aren’t running smoothly with your devices, network, or phones, or you need advice on preparing your office ready for the big return to work, we’d love to help. Please contact one of your account manager or one of our sales team on sales@ntsols.com or call us on 01252 235 235 today.