As we companies slowly begin to transition back to partial employees in the office be it by percentage, department, etc. There are several factors to keep in mind from the IT side of the house when it comes to returning to the office. After a year of adapting to mostly remote work, there are some items on the checklist to help ensure your best prepared for the hybrid workplace.
All of which we at Network Right have and are in the process of helping our clientele assure are up to date as the shift begins.
1. Conference Room Checks
Given that many office conference rooms have been decommissioned for quite some time there a few things to have your team confirm prior to having employees working out of the office again.
- Updating conference room software to the most latest version
Most rooms may be a couple versions behind in terms of software such as Zoom Room’s so its worth running the latest updates prior to returning
- Test conference room hardware.
It’s good practice to test out all hardware from meeting controllers, microphones, and speakers just to confirm everything is still operational & there are no hardware issues
- Proper cables/adapters present
Part of what makes a great conference room is access to common IT adapters & cables such as chargers, HDMI cords, and so on. Making sure prior to return that these are all available will make the transition that much more smoother.
- Check licensing
Amidst the pandemic many look to save costs where they could & software such as conference room were one where people may have either not renewed or paused until they were back in office. It’s worth in the switch a hybrid setup you validate all licenses are good to go. Additionally it may be worth at least only activating some conference rooms dependent on your head count. That way your not overpaying for unused rooms but still have a sufficient amount to serve the employees who will be back to office.
2. Remote Tools & Licensing Audit
Similar to the previous mentioned tip its worth re-evaluating your software spend as the transition to a hybrid space begins. Certain employees for example will certainly still need your Zoom accounts while others who will be fully onsite may not due to the Zoom Room/Conferencing setup. This is where you can do a break down & audit any software or licenses bought during the work-from-home/remote switch & determine which parties or departments need to retain said application access.
Some tools were super useful & great while everyone was remote where as new solutions or less licenses/seats will be needed now with people shifting back to office.
Other examples can include:
- VPN Software
- Conference Room Pro licenses
- Expense tools for WFH stipends
- Collaborative apps
3.Network Updates & Security
As employees come back to the office one key aspect to check on will be the network. Ensuring all services are still operational in event you cancelled any prior (ISP, Hardware subscription, etc). Also doing some prior checks to ensure things like network firmware for access points, routers, firewalls are all up to date for safety/security as well as efficiency for your workforce.
Small tips such as:
- Reminding users or ensuring the wi-fi password is widely available as some may have forgotten it or have new devices
- Verifying printers are still online/operational over the network
- Updating hardware firmware
In some cases we even advise depending on the growth/scale of a company over the 2020 pandemic year to potentially re-evaluating your network setup.
An use case we can provide as example would be we have had clients who prior to the pandemic had a network setup better suited for a smaller sized companies and at their previous headcount. However scaling over the last year to 30+ more employees and expanding their space internally meant they needed more AP’s to cover the bigger space and headcount. Currently with offices closed or little to no one working out of them is the best time to perform any hardware upgrades or setups. That way everything is prepped & ready as people return.
4. Hoteling Desks
A big part of the hybrid setup will revolve around users alternating around onsite & remote presence. As such some companies are looking into hotel desk options. These provide employees a temporary station they can book when their in office for days at a time or even remote employees visiting another office location. Hotel desks offer basic equipment that any team member can come in & connect to with ease.
We advise the following when it comes to offer flex/hotel desks
- Invest in software such as Robin which makes it easy for remote employees coming onsite to book said desks & see availability
- Provide monitors, chargers, and adapters so employees can connect laptops easily
- Offering cleaning materials (wipes, hand sanitizer, etc) at each station
This is a great way to offer space to work for employees who may only come in from time to time especially with current limitations that may be in place.
5. Inventory Management
Lastly in this transition to both onsite + remote. It’s a perfect opportunity for IT to ensure inventory of important hardware laptops, mobile devices, and so on are all up to date. One big challenge in the remote shift was ensuring IT teams could easily keep track of hardware both new and old as companies onboarded in the remote times. At Network Right we rolled out solutions such as mobile device management or MDM to log devices & easily keep track.
That said as employees come back to the space some of which may have been onboarded amidst the pandemic will need new hardware keyboards, mice, monitors and so on. This is a great opportunity to ensure inventory is checked & that IT has a good sense of what is available for employees & what needs to be re-stocked. Guaranteeing hardware availability as waves of employees return to office.
Overall we know the transition won’t happen all at once or even at all for some. However, the hybrid workforce is something to consider amidst these times & preparing now on the IT side of things only helps your team & provides a better experience for the employees. Using the above list to make sure your infrastructure is prepped, audited, and updated to support the times ahead.
If your company has any inquiries or interest in the above-mentioned tips to ensure your office & team are set for the hybrid transition don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help!