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Workplace tech questions your IT team is having to answer

12 Mar 2021

It is widely accepted that the way we work has changed forever.

Many office-based businesses are already looking at changing office layouts, shrinking the space they rent or moving location entirely, as they plan for a return to the workplace.

Part of this includes putting the right processes in place to reassure employees that when they do come back, they’ll come back to a safe environment.

In a study by Bupa Health Clinics, 46% of employees are worried about returning to an overcrowded workplace, 42% are concerned about how social distancing will be managed and 37% are concerned about general office cleanliness.

Using technology, businesses can create more experiences that are contactless, keep employees informed of capacity levels and understand how they are moving around the office, adapting the environment accordingly.

Here are some of the key considerations for your team right now:

1. How do we monitor the workplace?

Given that employees are anxious about overcrowded office spaces and social distancing, they’ll want reassurance that plans are in place to enforce and measure the effectiveness of policies and that employers are taking these issues as seriously as possible.

This includes how people move around the workplace and where they’re most likely to gather and create overcrowding.

Digital platforms like Worker Insights can help by linking smart cameras, Bluetooth sensors or other individual devices to a video analytics platform to track movement in the work environment and help businesses understand any potential hazards.

Using almost real-time, anonymised data (to protect individual privacy), employers can use insights to create “no-go zones” in the office if needed or simply re-organise the office layout to create a safe space.

2. How do we manage entry into the building?

Managing people inside the workplace is one thing. But during the first phase of returning to the workplace, one question will be how do businesses manage entry into the building.

Staggering start times can help to some degree but there is another way.

Working with Wasps rugby club, we installed heat detection cameras at the entrance to their main training facility to allow staff and players to return to training safely.

With the cameras in place, managers were able to detect any staff or players with a raised skin temperature and could advise them to seek further medical guidance before they entered the training ground, protecting everyone else.

We caught up with the team to find out more:

Vodafone Business UK | Supporting Wasps Rugby return to Business

3. What tech will people need in the future?

The quick move to remote working put more emphasis on the need to provide staff with mobile devices, cloud applications and connected communications.

Even as more people return to the office, businesses are likely to remain reliant on mobile, and less on desktops.

Understanding the long-term strategy for the workplace will be key to figuring out technology and devices people will need.

For example, on-site engineers will continue to need rugged devices and mobile applications so they can track jobs, monitor progress of work and communicate with customers and colleagues on the go.

On the other hand, businesses may need to provide office-based workers who start working at home with keyboards, a mouse, additional screens, potentially even desks and chairs so they have the right equipment at home.

That being said, it’s not enough to simply provide employees with a laptop or smartphone to use at home and expect the employee to configure or download everything they need.

The equipment needs to arrive configured, secured and loaded with tools and applications ready to be used out of the box.

A device lifecycle management system can help with the logistics of device management. Helping identify and deliver the right devices to the right people quickly, based on the needs of their jobs.

4. How do we manage a more dispersed IT network?

Having an effective network management strategy is key for the future workplace. If businesses are to adopt a more hybrid approach, it means adapting networks to handle more varied bandwidth requirements and connections.

Having a better overall understanding of your network’s performance will help guide how best to manage and adapt it in the future.

For home-based employees, this might mean expanding enterprise broadband into their homes, giving them a direct line into the company’s systems.

For global businesses, using an intelligent network like SD-WAN may be best. It is a flexible solution that can prioritise and manage the flow of data across the network while improving over time.

The increase of high bandwidth tasks like video conferencing means the traffic on a corporate network is on the rise. To succeed in the future, a new network design is needed and SD-WAN is a good place to start.

It’s also important to consider the changes needed for data back-up if there’s no fixed server on-premises. This is where having the right cloud backup can help.

According to Statista, 94% of small businesses already use the cloud for data storage and backups. For medium and large businesses, it’s 81%.

Using cloud backup is reliable because data storage, backups and maintenance happen automatically. If you want more regular updates and backups, these can be adjusted based on your preference. Also, the cloud is easily scalable, so can grow as your network size and complexity grows.

Preparing for the future of the workplace

Businesses have risen to the challenges of 2020. Employees are working in more agile ways, and business networks have adapted to support a more dispersed workforce. And there’s an opportunity for those who are getting this right and planning for the world of tomorrow.

By asking the right questions now, they can put themselves in a better position to not only return to “normal” successfully but also be better prepared for what’s to come.

Want to find out more? Download our guide to building a tech stack for the future workplace and find out exactly what your business will need to deal with the technical challenges it faces in the future.

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