Over the next few months, many of us will be making a return to the office. Whether your team is making a full return, a gradual return, or hotdesking long-term – there are steps you will need to take to ensure you’re prepared.
Many offices have been left empty for long periods of time, meaning your equipment will likely be out of date and may not be operating properly. As such, it’s important you plan ahead and prepare for your return to the office. This will ensure the transition is as smooth as possible, without any unexpected disturbances.
In this blog we will guide you through what to consider before making the return to the office and some examples of how we’ve prepared for our return. You can also download our checklist for everything you need to do before returning to the office.
Potential problems to avoid when returning to the office
We’ve outlined below some key problems that we predict could be overlooked by businesses when returning to the office. At the very least, make sure you’re prepared in these seven areas.
- Moving desks – It’s been over a year since the first national lockdown. In that time, it’s likely some employees will have left and some will have joined. Additionally, with social distancing measures in place, it’s unlikely your office layout will be exactly the same. So, it’s important your IT setup facilitates people moving desks easily. This includes having enough accessible power sockets and network ports available with long enough cables to accommodate all staff.
- Network ports – You may already have enough network ports in the right places, but you also need to ensure they’re live and working correctly. To make network ports live they will need to be patched manually by a member of your IT team or your IT partner.
- Printers – If you’ve added new staff and devices to your team in the past year, they won’t be set up on all your office printers. Installing printers onto your devices can be time-consuming, and therefore, also needs to be planned for prior to your return to the office.
- Meetings – With meetings taking place physically again, new staff will need to be advised on how to book meeting rooms. This will likely involve setting up a meeting room booking calendar and providing everyone with documentation on how to book.
- Testing on failovers – Your failover internet connections, UPS, phone systems etc. won’t have been tested for a long period of time. Therefore, you can’t assume they will work if you do need them. All failovers should, therefore, be tested prior to returning to the office to ensure business continuity.
- Getting set up – Your non-technical staff will likely need some assistance in getting their devices and software set up for the first time.
- Disposing of old devices – You may have old devices left in your office that you no longer require. Getting rid of these devices safely will involve securely wiping them and recycling them responsibly. If you don’t prepare for this beforehand, your office could become cluttered with unneeded IT equipment during your first few weeks back.
How Netstar have prepared to return to the office
To help with your return to the office, we’ve outlined some examples of specific measures we’ve taken to ensure our transition to a flexible working environment is as smooth as possible.
- Most of our employees (excluding the finance department) will be working on laptops to make it easier for people to work remotely and in the office.
- Within the office, we have set up dual monitors with compatible docking stations at every desk. This means our employees can connect their laptops without any problems and benefit from two larger screens to enhance their productivity.
- We’ve standardised all of our IT equipment, this means that all screens, docking stations, and chargers are compatible with one another to avoid any issues.
- We’ve invested in spare chargers and devices for our office so that employees can continue to work effectively even if they’ve forgotten their equipment.
- All employees have access to cloud phone systems (or softphones) used for making calls over the internet via a mobile app or on their desktops. This means they can continue to work effectively from anywhere.
- Cloud phone systems enable us to continue using phone features such as call recording and stats reporting. This helps us adhere to compliance, train our remote staff, and monitor the performance of our entire team.
- Noise cancelling headphones are available for everyone in the office, so those who have become accustomed to working in silence can continue to work productively.
- We’ve upgraded and increased the amount of wireless access points in our office. This makes our connectively stronger and more reliable, especially for those who are hotdesking and moving around the office.
- We’ve improved our wireless security because more employees will be working via a wireless connection as opposed to a cable connection. This includes ensuring only authorised devices can connect, alerting on unauthorised access attempts, having a separate guest network, and a separate mobile phone network.
- We reviewed our device security, because carrying laptops around increases the risk of loss or theft and a subsequent data breach. This includes mobile device management controls, multi-factor authentication, device tracking, encryption, remote wiping of devices and apps. (Although we already had these in place, we knew it was important to review our device security to ensure it was as robust as possible).
- We introduced new audio-visual systems in meeting rooms to better support the need for group remote meetings with clients and colleagues. These link to our existing collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams, and helps to making connecting quicker and easier.
How you can prepare now
We’ve put together a comprehensive checklist for everything you need to review before returning to the office – this will prevent any unexpected disturbances and ensure your team can work productively and securely on their first day back.
Also, if you’re a Netstar client, you can book a bespoke floor-walk with us. If you do choose to book a floor-walk, a member of our team will visit your office and check everything is set up correctly before your employees return. This is the best way to prevent potential IT issues, ensure nothing is overlooked, and guarantee your team can work effectively when they return.
To find out more, please get in touch with your Business Technology Advisor.