After spending nearly a year in “pandemic mode,” with most (if not all) employees working remotely, savvy business owners are optimizing their return to work plans. By proactively strategizing now about how you want your office to look and function when personnel return, you can take advantage of opportunities that might have been too cumbersome to seize when your firm resided in a fully-staffed office. (If you are leasing new space and are eligible for a second draw PPP loan, don’t forget applications are due March 31 and you can use it to pay rent and utilities, thereby freeing up budget for technology upgrades.)
A January 2021 PWC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) study found that the success of remote work has spurred a “reimagining” of how corporate work gets done, as well as where the work takes place. Yet, while U.S. executives and employees both envision a post-pandemic future with more flexibility, few want to completely abandon working in a real office.
Instead, they picture a world where employees have access to an office that has been equipped with technology to support a variety of activities. Their concept also embraces the flexibility for staff and management to conduct some work from home, which requires additional, ongoing technology support.
No matter where your firm lies on this continuum, the most important consideration for the future of your workspace is to determine whether your office of 2019 reflects your needs today. In many cases, business owners are finding that it doesn’t. Following are a few of the technology upgrades that can benefit personnel in all workplace environments, regardless of location.
Deploy Reliable Cloud Tools
Cloud productivity applications, from Office 365 to Google Workspace, are proven efficiency builders in every setting. Because they maintain your workers’ data and files within their secure cloud environments, staff can access them wherever they go. Cloud-based data backup is also important to ensure company data can be restored to any and all systems if it is overwritten or destroyed.
Upgrade Your Network to WiFi 6
WiFi 6 has made headlines due to its speed (maximum of 9.6 Gbps, nearly three times that of Wi-Fi 5), but that’s not the big deal. Given that the typical download speed in the US is just 72 Mbps, business leaders can split that bandwidth across an entire network of devices, which translates to greater potential speed for each device.
Update Outdated Technology Solutions
Outdated or inefficient technology wastes valuable time and money. While you prepare for your return to the office, why not give your company a productivity and resiliency boost? From deploying mobile device management (MDM) to keep workers productive wherever they are to implementing a best practices disaster recovery solution, now is a great time to refresh your approaches?
Reconfigure Your Office Environment
Although vaccines should enable us to be comfortable working closely together again, fewer than one in five executives say they want to return to the office exactly as it was, pre-pandemic. Some are reconfiguring office space so workers share large open areas but do not work as closely together as before (at least, not right away). Others are considering well-equipped, open technology “stations” that workers can utilize on a rotating basis as they need them.
Partner with Pros that Can Keep Systems Up and Running
A distributed workforce increases the volume of IT alerts, support tickets and services to an unsustainable level. If firms plan to continue with this approach post-pandemic, it’s important for them to perform an “IT systems management” checkup. (A pre-pandemic study found that only 27 percent of SMBs had a dedicated IT security pro on staff; 52 percent distributed the responsibilities among their workers. If this sounds like your firm, call us for a free checkup now.)
At Carmichael Consulting Solutions, we have spoken with many clients who understand that decisions regarding the future of their workplaces should not be made without expert planning. No matter where you are on the continuum regarding a remote versus in-office workspace, we invite you to call us for a complimentary evaluation and consultation. Start your next phase of work with confidence, not confusion.