Ten IT Considerations for Returning to the Office

Many provinces have announced plans to gradually reopen businesses closed due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. As a result, employees will begin returning to their physical workplaces, some from layoffs and others from work at home arrangements. Below we outline ten IT considerations to help smooth the transition.

  1. Include IT in Planning

    Make sure to coordinate with your IT support team. Let IT know which employees are being rehired a few days before their start date to allow time to prepare accounts, email, software, security, web services, and workstations. Similarly, users returning from work at home may need assistance reconnecting IT equipment. Early communication and planning will produce a better experience.


  1. Allow Computers to Catch Up

    Turn on all computers that were shut down over the past weeks to let them catch up on software updates, security patches, and backups. These systems may be a bit slow for the first hour or two. After two hours, give them a reboot to finalize the updates. If your computers were left on, reboot them right away to complete installations and freshen the operating system.


  1. Anticipate Hiccups

    Some rapidly moved to work from home and may have left their work centres in a bit of disarray. Employees may have taken computers, chairs, monitors, peripherals, and cables with them to equip home offices. Everything may not come back, at least not on the first day. In addition to patience, plan to have spares on hand – especially keyboards, mice, and network cables. To help your team, circulate a Return to Work IT Checklist in advance.


  1. Prevent Data Loss

    Ideally, everyone working from home saved their data to central locations. However, some homes have poor internet connectivity. You may discover that, for expediency, users saved files to their local desktop or an external file sharing platform. Take care to make sure these files are not lost, and that users do not overwrite each other’s work when copying data back to the server.


  1. Clean Computers

    Include computers and electronics in your sanitation regime. Wipe down nonporous high touch surfaces like the keyboard, mouse, and desk with disinfectant wipes. Replace fabric mice pads with wipeable pads (optical mice do not need fabric pads). Do not use bleach, abrasive cleaners, or aerosol sprays on computers!


  1. Separate Workplaces

    To support social distancing, you may be required to modify where individuals are situated. Keep in mind that you may need to change your network and telephone cabling to support your new layout. Have a few longer patch cables on hand to help you quickly adapt. Alternatively, you may want to improve your Wi-Fi coverage to allow greater flexibility. When you have settled on a new layout, work with your IT team to review any permanent structured cabling needs.


  1. Plan Resources for Hybrid Workers

    “Things will never be the same!” Having sorted how to be productive from home, some may never return to working full time in the office. You may need additional computers, docking stations, monitors, and peripherals to support this flexibility. Hoteling stations are a great way to provide work-anywhere flexibility without doubling up on computer equipment. Ironically, strict standardization of computer equipment such as laptops and docking stations supports such flexibility.


  1. Take Special Measures for Hoteling Stations

    Hoteling stations, or temporary work areas, are an excellent option for hybrid workers. Put in place additional sanitization protocols for these areas. We recommend stocking disinfectant wipes nearby and posting cleaning guidelines for entering and leaving shared workplaces. Finally, discourage food consumption in shared work areas. 


  1. Keep Meetings Virtual

    Even when you are back in the same location, consider continuing to hold your meetings virtually to support physical distancing. This especially holds for large meetings like staff meetings, town halls, and AGMs. Microsoft Teams Events are a great way to host conferences. Subscribe to F12.net’s Quick Tips YouTube channel for some upcoming Microsoft Teams Quick Tips. 


  1. Dream Big

    Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, declared, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” No doubt, this disruption has offered insight into the strengths, limitations, and possibilities of your business. In effect, every company that pivoted to working from home became a “multi-site” organization. That changes how you handle requests, manage tasks, lead individuals, conduct sales, and serve customers. F12’s Client Perspective video series provides insight into how some organizations are pivoting. Get your leadership together (virtually) while the inspiration and challenges are still fresh to brainstorm how technology can support your new reality.

Stay tuned to F12’s channels for future information on how businesses can leverage technology to stay unified, competitive, and secure in this Brave New World.

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