Return To Work
March 17th, 2021

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How IT Leaders Can Support A Safe Return To Work

The pandemic revealed many opportunities for improvement in the way we live and work. For many companies, it also highlighted flaws in their workplace technology stack.

Here’s a closer look at how IT priorities have shifted in the past year — and how to ensure your technology solutions stack is equipped to handle new ways of working.

How the pandemic changed workplace technology needs

In the early days of the pandemic, an IDG COVID-19 Impact Study revealed several emerging challenges for IT leaders.

Of the more than 400 IT executives who responded, 45% said controlling costs was their most pressing concern for the coming year.

While many decreased spending, the investments they made primarily focused on digital transformation initiatives and technology that improved the remote work experience.

Nearly 70% said their workplace technology infrastructure was adequately prepared to support remote work. However, the biggest issue they faced was an inability to accommodate the increase in VPN connections, according to the survey.

As employees continued to use their own devices and home Wi-Fi, cybersecurity issues soon rose to the forefront.

Hackers used new methods for stealing personal information and company data, from new malware and COVID phishing scams to cyberattacks on video conferencing.

In one alarming example, cybercriminals exploited a video conferencing data breach and sold personal information from more than half a million people.

As the pandemic wore on, IT leaders gained more buy-in to increase digital transformation budgets.

A Gartner survey of 2,000 CIOs in October revealed they are increasing investments in several key areas:

  • Cybersecurity solutions (61%)
  • Business intelligence and data analytics (58%)
  • Cloud solutions (53%)

“The support for remote work that the COVID-19 pandemic brought on might be the biggest win for CIOs since Y2K.” They now have the attention of the CEO, they have convinced senior business leaders of the need to modernize technology, and they have prompted boards of directors to accelerate enterprise digital business initiatives. CIOs must seize this moment, because they may never get another opportunity like it.”

(Gartner Research VP Andy Roswell Jones, in a recent news release)

 

 

What your workplace technology stack needs now

As IT professionals and other business leaders re-evaluate their workplace technology stack, they are balancing immediate priorities with long-term needs.

With more than two-thirds of company leaders expecting to reopen offices by summer, the most immediate concern is to implement technology that keeps employees safe.

That means in addition to introducing solutions to protect their network and company data, they are considering solutions such as:

Visitor management software

Limiting capacity to reduce close contact is an important consideration for most workplaces.  So are wellness screenings and contact tracing.

A good visitor management system can support all three priorities. First, it allows workplace leaders to manage access so the office doesn’t become overcrowded.

It also allows employees to fill out a simple assessment to self-identify any symptoms of COVID-19.

If an employee discloses a positive test, the cloud-based software maintains a digital record of everyone who was in the office at the same time and may have been exposed.

In addition to reducing the spread of the coronavirus, it also helps manage security. This is particularly helpful for companies that don’t have front desk receptionists to greet and direct visitors.

Anyone who poses a potential threat can be added to the security watchlist so your team will be notified if they try to sign in.

return to office

Desk and room reservation software

As more and more employees are working remotely at least part of the time, companies are implementing flexible seating arrangements.

With desk hoteling software, employees can easily see which workspaces are available and reserve one before they come into the office.

And with room reservation software, they can book the best meeting room to collaborate with colleagues in person, all from the same convenient mobile app.

You can also use the software to limit capacity in each meeting room so employees can maintain an appropriate physical distance.

Wayfinding software

Helping employees navigate the office environment may not have been a concern for IT leaders prior to the pandemic, but it is now. That’s because many workplaces have been reconfigured for safety. Entrances and exits may have changed to help manage the flow of traffic.

And workplaces leaders have introduced wellness checks, personal protective equipment, sanitization stations, and other new elements.

Your workplace may also have dozens of new employees who were hired during the pandemic and have never been to the office before.

Wayfinding software and digital signage enable a smooth transition back to the office, whether employees are new or returning after a year of working remotely.

Workplace analytics

The pandemic highlighted the need for better data to help workplace leaders plan for the future. That includes not only data that drives sales and customer interactions, but also workplace analytics that help leaders plan ahead.

That includes data on average and peak occupancy, meeting size, and the percentage of reserved workspaces on a typical day.

Your workplace technology stack should integrate seamlessly to provide a single source of data for everyone in your organization. This can help you identify opportunities to reduce real estate costs, better manage IT expenses, and much more.

Self-service technology solutions

To continue to make the case for digital transformation beyond the pandemic, IT leaders need to make the case for how technology improves employee collaboration and productivity.

They need to focus on how these solutions and others help employees find what they need fast, get tech support, and stay connected.

Mobile, self-service technology eliminates the moments of friction that can add up to greater frustration for employees.

That might be the time they spend trying to remember their passwords for multiple systems or the 15 minutes they spend searching for an available meeting room each day.

As you evaluate your current workplace technology stack, consider how you can simplify existing solutions and eliminate redundancies. Before introducing anything new, consider the user experience and seek out employees’ feedback.  

“Making the shift from ‘survive to thrive’ depends on an organization becoming distinctly human at its core — a different way of being that approaches every question, every issue, and every decision from a human angle first.” (2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends)

 

Although the end of the pandemic is in sight, you should be considering technology that enables your company to be nimble, in spite of other unpredictable events, while giving your employees the flexibility to work from anywhere.

Teem’s return-to-office solutions can help you solve immediate safety concerns and optimize your workplace for long-term success.

To learn more about what you can do to update your workplace technology stack moving forward, download our IT leader's guide.

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