Your business may have the OK to go ahead and get back to work on-site, but you don’t want to risk people’s health by doing so. After all, some “experts” say it is fine and other “experts” say it is too soon and a second wave of COVID-19 is likely to occur (see our blog here on how to plan for a second coming). With conflicting opinions like this it is hard for employers to know what to do and how to best protect both their clients and employees health. This article provides some suggestions to help you return to work while prioritising safety.
Not everyone will welcome the call back to the corporate environment. Some employees may still be in a population vulnerable to the virus. They may want to take leave instead of returning to the work environment and others may simply not show up.
Have your manager or HR team send out a written notice informing employees of the timeline for returning to the office and educate them about the precautions you are taking to provide a safe work environment. Ask for a written response of people’s intentions. Then, IT can start establishing procedures for getting everyone back to work.
You may have had great success with remote working during the quarantine. This could position you to allow some workers to stay home if they are at risk or don’t like the idea of returning “too soon.”
One easy way to help support social distancing is by phasing in your employees return. Your business could also use a hybrid IT solution to allow people to come in just three days a week, and they could continue to work two days at home (or vice versa). This will allow staggered re-entry and reduces the numbers of people on-site at the same time.
You may be thinking you already have all the tech you need to get back up and running in the office. You were already working from there before this whole thing started so everything can continue on as before, right? Well, where is all that equipment at the moment? Did employees take some home, have updates been done on the systems left at the office? Is all the equipment at the office still working or did you turn off the servers etc?
Bringing people back to the office, you’ll want to rethink the physical setup. Support social distancing by spreading employees’ seating arrangements out more. This will require moving around computer hardware, too. Do you need extra data cabling installed or network points moved?
You may now have all the tools needed to support a remote workforce so can support a hybrid model.
To achieve a flexible hybrid model, go with cloud solutions or expand on-site IT. Do you need to add infrastructure to handle remote employees using virtual private networks (VPNs)? Both on-site staff and off-site workers might need to securely access systems at the same time.
Adopting cloud collaboration software allows co-workers to access network resources simultaneously, regardless of location.
If you were previously sharing technology, you’ll also need to add more desktops. Or you might invest instead in more laptops or portable devices. This could mean purchasing more software licenses, too.
Added IT Precautions
Finally, cyber criminals are opportunistic. They are already exploiting people with malware promising vaccines or cheap masks. These bad guys are also looking to exploit the tech demands on businesses. Many businesses adapted to a new way of doing things: they moved files to the cloud, and they allowed employee access from personal devices, but they did so quickly.
Explore any new vulnerabilities from your transitions. This is a good time to double-check permissions. Ensure that accountant Jane can access staff wage data but that receptionist Jenny can’t. Also, check that all virus protection and security patches are current.
Active planning is the answer to a smooth return to work. While offering protective coverings and increasing your cleaning of the office is important, you also need to make sure that you do not overlook your technology needs.
Need help? Contact us today so that our IT experts can help you with your move back to the office.