A Glimpse at the Future of Office Technology Post-COVID

A glimpse at the post-COVID IT Landscape…

We are currently experiencing the largest work from home experiment ever. What was unimaginable at the beginning of the year, has quickly showed us what is possible. Companies responded to this crisis by quickly moving their employees from the office to the home in what seemed like overnight.

As society slowly begins to open, what will our new offices look like? Will employees want to continue the work from home arrangement?

With this new reality, the technical environment of these organizations will have to keep pace to remain viable and secure. We will continue to see companies transform their abilities and processes around Security, Digitization, Communications, Collaboration, and Remote Learning.


Security

With the sudden and rapid rise of work from home, network and infrastructure teams are critical in keeping operations going.

While there wasn’t time to consider security issues with an almost overnight move, firms will have to make important decisions on security moving forward. New security vulnerabilities could have been created with the swift adoption of new access policies, network and devices for managing the infrastructure as well as the users operating in the infrastructure. For example, employees using personal devices should be asked to secure their devices with updated antivirus software, along with a firewall. Companies should ensure that all employees working from home use an encrypted password protected router and avoid allowing employees to use any open WiFi connections.

Solutions for security issues include providing employees with a company-purchased laptop rather than a desktop computer going forward. At the very least, this will ensure that the device they are using from home has the appropriate software. Organizations should regularly educate their team members on cyber security. Something as simple of clicking on a malicious link can cause a major data breach. As cyber criminals change their tactics, keeping employees informed will be a company’s best defense against human error data breaches.


Digitization

Digitize everything! There is going to be a surge for digitizing files and more robust records management systems.

For companies working from home, paper files sitting in everyone’s offices are not very useful right now. Records Management Systems can also be useful in encouraging employees to save their documents on the corporate infrastructure rather than saving them locally (a less secure option). It will also allow employees to send each other links to documents rather than the actual document, which is less secure as it can be forwarded anywhere.  For doctor’s offices that have moved to telemedicine, paper files require the doctor and his staff to still work in the office even though patients are not coming in.  By digitizing files, employees can have access to everything they need to work efficiently from anywhere.


Communications

Desktop phones in offices will become obsolete. However, companies may not want corporate calls on personal cellphones and may want to avoid the cost of mobile devices for all employees.

The best option is to implement a Voice-Over-IP system where with a headset, computer, internet connection, and sound card, you can speak on your work phone like you were in the office. The system is portable and has better quality than a traditional phone with all of the same features of a traditional office phone.  Companies, especially SMEs, who use telephones as a major way to generate business will invest in VoIP technology as a more cost effective alternative to providing cellphones.


Collaboration

In the first two weeks of social distancing, Zoom went from a barely known product to a household name. “Zooming” even became its own verb. But there is more to collaboration than video conferencing.  

Collaboration tools that allow a group text option will allow for an easier way to manage communications rather than voluminous email chains. Document sharing when working together becomes easier when everyone can make changes in real time, like with Google Docs. As more companies move to increased remote work, they will need to adopt systems that allow for easier collaboration.


Remote Learning

Increased online learning will be a priority for many companies. While more people are working from home, they still require training. But with entire teams working from home, a digital learning strategy may be necessary, along with a Learning Management System that can track employee’s progress in training. There will be a need for IT teams to integrate Learning Management Systems into their environment while finding ways to ensure employees have access to training that is needed immediately.

Tips for Quickly Improving Your Remote Learning Strategy

  1. Review learning objectives and ensure they are specific and measurable.
  2. All content will need to be reviewed to make sure it directly relates to the subject matter.
  3. Using multiple avenues for training will create more interested from the employee working from home.
  4. Look for ways to reduce costs by producing more expensive training for subjects that can be used across an organization. The cost of producing a video is much less if it is used by all employees.
  5. A micro learn (5 minute or less video) recorded on Zoom or another videoconferencing system is a great option for training on a shorter topic, like a new computer feature. It’s a short and effective way for anyone to learn.
  6. Mix in some virtual instructor led training for topics that require more direct training and provide the trainee with an opportunity to ask questions.
  7. Provide some written learning materials for employees to learn by reading.

All of this content can be eventually integrated into a Learning Management System that will organize the content into paths and even provide an opportunity for testing employees to ensure they have understood the content.  Starting to build content now will lead to a smoother transition once a new Learning Management System is adopted.