After more than a year and with COVID-19 vaccinations on the rise, workplaces are reopening and having employees return to offices. What they are returning to is a new office model; one in which organizations must be even more aware of employee safety and health concerns, and one which finds the workforce more distributed than ever between those working in the office and those that remain working remotely. A successful return-to-office readiness plan addresses these concerns by incorporating the best technology solutions to support the new office reality.
Organizations need to be aware of the pandemic-induced concerns their employees have as they bring the workforce back into the office environment. According to a recent survey by Honeywell, more than two-thirds of workers do not feel completely safe working in their employer’s building. In addition to temperature checks and health screening introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19, an IDC study shows employees would feel more comfortable returning to the office if their organization would reconfigure spaces to enable social distancing, increase sanitation measures, improve HVAC air circulation and implement touchless solutions to community shared fixtures.
Indoor air quality sensors, electronic air cleaners, UV light sanitizing solutions, touchless entry systems, and room occupancy monitoring technology should be considered as health safety solutions that can reduce or eliminate the lingering health concerns of returning employees. Centric Business Solutions can provide technology solutions that do not require employees to touch operator panels of a shared printer or multifunctional device (MFD). Using a mobile app such as Ricoh’s Smart Device Connector or HP’s Smart App enables a worker to release a print job, scan a document, set up and control a printer and MFD and more, all directly from their personal mobile device. Technology such as Sharp’s MFP Voice offers users similar controls in a voice-activated solution. Touchless solutions can go a long way in helping an organization show their employees that they are working to mitigate or remove the safety and health concerns around using shared printers and MFDs.
During the pandemic, technology solutions in cloud services, along with communication and collaboration solutions, allowed the use of remote, work-from-home employees to be as productive or even more so than when they worked in a centralized office. This realization by employees, and the other resulting benefits of not being required to be in an office every day of the week, has reshaped employers’ view of what the post-pandemic return-to-office reality looks like. One-third of professionals who worked from home due to the pandemic told Robert Half they would look for a new job if required to be back in the office full-time, yet almost half said they were OK if required to divide their work time between the office and a remote location. The arrival of the hybrid office, where employees work sometime during the week from home or a remote location and the rest in an office, is the new reality. For firms attracting workers back to the office, this new reality means technology solutions implemented to support the pandemic-led fully remote employee model must continue, with even deeper integrations into communication, collaboration, and digital transformation solutions used in the central office.
Printing, scanning, faxing, and copying needs of the hybrid office should be reevaluated in any return-to-office readiness planning. New deployments or redeployments of printers and MFDs need to continue to consider the needs of workers when they work remotely. Print management and MPS solutions should be emphasized to maintain control and security whenever and wherever a document may be printed. Digitalizing business processes and other workflows through document management and workflow solutions that can be accessed through the cloud will close the gap between remote workers and on-site office workers. Technology solutions like smart interactive whiteboards that have a built-in camera, microphones, and wireless casting capabilities can change a traditional meeting or conference room into a highly collaborative workspace connecting on-site and remote team members, enabling them to share material from their own devices and allowing all meeting attendees to easily collaborate.
Recent ransomware attacks reinforce the need for every firm to be vigilant in implementing cybersecurity solutions. With the hybrid office emerging and a more distributed workforce than ever before, security technologies and policies that provide remote and on-site employee coverage, and that organizations can actively manage and monitor, must be considered in any post-pandemic return-to-office scenario. Data encryption, access and authentication controls, virus, and malware protection, secure print solutions, and regular secure backups will help an organization stay as safe as possible from data breaches and other security issues.
The past year introduced drastic challenges and changes in the way organizations operate. The solution professionals at Centric are ready to review your return-to-office readiness and recommend the technology solutions that will make supporting the new hybrid office reality as easy as possible. Contact us at www.centricbiz.com for more information or to schedule an appointment.