Returning to the Office: Technology Guide
As you work through the variables and details for bringing your employees back to the office, technology will be a success factor in minimizing disruption and getting back to business as usual – or better. Use this guide to incorporate technology considerations throughout your strategy for coming back to the office.
- Plan a ramp-up or staggered approach for scheduling employees’ first day back in the office. This will allow space and time for employees to check-in, set up, and get situated, as well as maintain ample capacity of technology support and resources to help in making this an efficient transition.
- Create and communicate device check-in and cleaning procedures. Even if your employees have always had laptops or other devices used for sporadic remote work, use this as an opportunity to sanitize devices and equipment (use our cleaning devices guide) and confirm devices are in good working order.
- Have technology staff at the ready to assist employees with log-in and connection hiccups. Depending on how your network is setup, employees may have some common and easily fixed issues like:
- Addressing stale passwords – Some networks have a threshold of time when a password is not just expired, but more severe, locked out completely. Should this be the case, an admin will need to help reinstate the device on the network.
- Reconnecting monitors, printers, and other hardware – If employees connected to other hardware in their remote workspaces, connecting to peripherals may need some adjustments.
- Running updates – If updates were not automatically installed while connected remotely, employees will likely have a substantial backlog of updates to install. Be sure to alert them, allow time, and if possible, give them a list of the expected updates including their operating system, antivirus software, and other software. This will help keep your network and devices secure.
- Require a security scan on all devices. Regardless of where each device typically resides, provide instructions and/or support for checking that their antivirus software is updated and has run since coming back to the office, as well as instructions for what to do should the scan return findings or issues. This will help mitigate risks, raise awareness of security concerns, and refresh/train employees on how to keep your network secure.
- Allow employees some time to do file management or documentation. Working remotely, especially under make-shift or hectic conditions, saving files to the network or documenting communications, procedures, or other matters falls by the wayside. Provide checklists or suggestions to help recall files that may be in limbo and allocate some time to ensure files make it to their rightful places.
Your New [Technology] Norm
You likely provided additional access, devices, and software to employees in order to create or expand a remote work environment or adapt to some other variable spurred by pandemic conditions. Think through the following considerations to develop or adjust your technology strategy going forward:
- Manage remote access closely. If you have provided remote access to employees that wouldn’t normally have access, determine who will continue to need access and turn off access for those who will not. Be sure to monitor access closely.
- Consider device selection and remote features as you acquire new hardware moving forward. We experienced a spike in demand for laptops, servers, and other equipment making these items hard to procure. As we navigate this pandemic and you consider what your work environment looks like moving forward, you may want to consider opting and/or budgeting for adjusting your systems to better support remote work.
- Develop a plan for using and maintaining collaboration software. Collaboration software, such as Microsoft Teams, has been a necessity for business continuity over the past months and can continue to be a valuable tool. However, if you began using your collaboration software as a reaction and quick solution during the pandemic, you likely didn’t roll it out as one would typically recommend. Collaboration tools, and most enterprise software, is typically implemented with a well thought out plan for rollout, use, and further development. So think through this now:
- Gauge current adoption and usage of the collaboration tool.
- What are the use cases for continued use your collaboration software?
- Which additional functionality would add value?
- How will maintaining current use or additional functionality ideally impact processes and workflows?
- What training and communication needs to happen when for minimizing disruption and getting the most out of the collaboration tool?
- Assess all systems that caused disruption at any point: voice calls, video calls, file access, etc. Determine if disruption was caused by limited functionality of the technology, or limited knowledge of the employees. Based on your findings, create your plan for implementing better solutions or better training or reference materials for employees.
- Address security concerns. Some common risk areas include:
- Antivirus software – If antivirus software on individual or network systems did not update during this time, determine process and schedule for regular updates immediately and in the event of extended remote work periods.
- Employee security habits – Security training and awareness is an ongoing need under normal circumstances. The need for good security habits is heightened and highlighted during crisis situations. Equip employees with the know-how to protect your network – start by circulating our STOP-THINK-SECURE guide.
Working through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic had certainly taught us that technology is a critical asset in supporting business continuity through incredible challenges. Many organizations took leaps forward in technology to pivot, and many are now finding the technology implemented will be an asset going forward. Take some time to, not only plan an efficient return to the office, but also assess how technology helped or hindered your business throughout this ordeal and plan a new technology norm that allows for quick pivots and sufficient security.
Summary: plan an efficient return to work by including technology considerations in your approach
- Develop a process to follow as employees return in a staggered or ramp-up fashion
- Provide time and resources to employees to get themselves connected and organized
- Keep security top-of-mind when reconnecting devices to your network and those still connecting remotely
- Confirm, reconsider, or create your technology strategy based on our experience over the past few months