COVID-19 sped up the inevitable: a workplace geared toward remote workers –– and data continues to show us that remote work isn’t going anywhere. As we transition our workforces to a world changed by the pandemic, organizations will need to adapt to a “hybrid” work environment, with some employees in an office and others continuing to work remotely.

With this in mind, we’ve devised a technology-focused roadmap that your team can use to prepare your workplace for the post-COVID world.

Design your technology infrastructure plan

There’s no point in trying to “go back to the way things were” before COVID. That said, it’s important to devise a plan with your team using what you’ve learned over the past year. Work together to brainstorm about what worked and what didn’t. Listen to your team members from each department about which tasks were more efficient when performed as a remote process, and which tasks are better when done in person.

Once this process is complete, most organizations will likely land on a solution that includes an option for some employees to return to work, and others to continue working remotely. If this is the case for your team, you’ll need to design a technology infrastructure plan for both sub-groups, then work with your IT provider to implement your new policies and procedures.

Here’s how we’d recommend getting started.

Employees Returning to Work

Once you have your return-to-work plan in place, work with your IT department or a remote IT specialist to set a list of procedures to aid the return of certain employees to the office. For remote employees who are returning to work, here is a list of tasks we would suggest you get started with:

  • Properly reconnect all equipment
  • Ensure that documents saved locally on personal devices are stored on the corporate network prior to employees returning to the office.
  • Delete sensitive and confidential data saved to devices while working from home
  • Perform security reviews to identify and respond to potential security incidents that may have occurred while employees were working from home
  • Test the backup and retention of data on local devices before sanitizing those devices. (This is particularly important for protected data on work-from-home devices that may be subject to compliance regulations.)
  • Complete on-site processes for employee terminations that were conducted while working remotely. This may include disabling key cards, collecting equipment, and scheduling the cleanup and repurpose of those devices
  • Repurpose assets that were temporarily issued to employees to enable them to work from home.
  • Return technology, office equipment, and other company assets that employees took home

Once these tasks have been performed, your employees will be ready to return to the office. But even then, we would recommend keeping your in-office employees “location agnostic” so you can easily adapt if employees need to work remotely for short or extended periods of time. For more information on keeping your in team technologically flexible, read this article we wrote on the subject earlier this year.

Employees Working Remotely

For employees that will continue to work remotely, don’t settle for continuing business as usual. Many organizations adapted to working remotely within weeks (if not days), which may have resulted in less-than-ideal employee habits, software investments, and technology equipment. Here is how we suggest getting started:

  • Take time to assess what tools your remote team is currently using and any upgrades that might be necessary.
  • Conduct an audit of the communication, file-sharing, and collaboration software systems you invested in and compare them with others available on the market to determine if you are using the correct system for your team. Pay special attention to tools that will allow your remote team to stay connected with your in-office team to maintain a sense of community and collaboration.
  • Cybersecurity is much more important for remote workers (90% of organizations experienced increased cyberattacks during the pandemic), so establish on-going cybersecurity measures and maintenance routines for all remote team members. Here’s an article we wrote on how to keep remote employees safe from cyber threats with more information.
  • Explore all connectivity options that support long-term remote working. Most organizations use a standard VPN connection, but there are other, more secure options available that work more efficiently for long-term remote work.
  • Find a trusted and reliable IT partner that you can trust to handle your distributed workforce. Remember that not all IT companies have the knowledge, capacity, or experience to handle remote workforces, so it’s vital to partner with an expert.

If your company needs help developing a reliable plan for returning to the office or optimizing remote working capabilities, contact us to schedule a free, no-pressure consultation with one of our specialists.