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Is the Office Ready for Your Return?

20 May 2021

At the start of the pandemic, most companies rose to the challenges posed by the sudden transition to remote work. Everything from tech requirements to security had to be tackled and rethought to maintain team productivity and communication.  

Now, as lockdown restrictions lift and companies prepare to return to the office, is it a case of job done and let’s revert to the way we were in early 2020? From our conversations with customers we don’t think so, as many are asking how to maintain productivity and security in a re-imagined Work-From-Anywhere (WFA) operationA report carried out by ServiceNow found that “half of all executives (50%) and employees (53%) believe that transitioning to new ways of working will be more challenging than the initial adjustment to remote work.”  

In this article, we will be looking a3 possible issues you might face during your return to the office. 

1. Are your applications & network ready for WFA?

In a lot of cases, businesses either adopted new applications to support remote working, e.g. Microsoft Teams, or shifted to more Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. When your CEO returns to the office, you’ll want to make sure they get the same experience as they do when they work from home. Your network may or may not be optimised, or have the bandwidth to cope with the increased volumes of video traffic or SaaS application data as well as it does for applications hosted in your data centre. We suggest optimising your collaboration software and infrastructure to prioritise video traffic so that your office workers get as good of an experience as possible.

Do you need to configure your applications? Speak to us about conducting a Microsoft Teams Quality of Service review.

2. Will your tools work as effectively in the office as they do at home?

As we ease out of lockdown, it's clear that working policies and cultures will shift. Companies will need to support a mix of remote and in-office work, as 41% of employees are keen to work remotely at least some of the time. Meetings must be able to extend beyond the four walls of the office space, allowing for effective video and audio communication between remote and office-based employees, as well as global teams and external clients. 

This means that we need to get rid of the notion that some attendees might 'dial in' to a meeting. All attendees need to feel like they are as visible as they would be in the office, and your technology can affect this. If your remote employees can't be communicated with using your equipment in your conference rooms then this will affect their experience.

Do your existing meeting room video conferencing suites need to be upgraded to support new ways of working? Speak to us about changing or adapting your collaboration tools.

3. Do you need to rethink your security perimeter? 

The emphasis on user experience implies two main requirements – a user should feel theget the same experience whether they are in or away from the office and that they should be equally secure wherever they are working from. 

If your users are now secure working from anywhere, then does your office LAN need to be structured in the same way? With security focused on the user and not the location, you may find your office LAN performance negatively impacts the user experience.

Security should not be reliant on office or home-based technology, meaning businesses should be looking to secure usersendpoints, applications and data. This is best achieved using cloud-based security to remove dependency on specific locations, such as offices. However, certain risks can change depending on location so deploying behaviour or risk-based security tools such as conditional access can balance the twin needs of providing a flexible working experience but with effective and persistent security. 

This intersection of Cloud, Network and Security strategy is driving some interesting new ways of thinking such as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) which is the convergence of wide-area networking (WAN), and network security services like Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) and Zero-Trust methodologies, into a single, cloud-delivered service model.  

Does your infrastructure need rethinking? Speak to us about a SASE Design Thinking workshop.

Final Words

92% of executives stated that COVID-19 forced their company to rethink how work gets done. While the pandemic has emphasised the need for accelerated digital transformation , these changes will take time 

We are all learning to communicate more effectively, transition through changes seamlessly, and cultivate a more flexible and enjoyable work culture. However, by investing in digital transformationyou can ensure that your workplace technological needs are met now and in the future.  

Digital transformation is at the heart of this process, helping to connect teams both remotely and in-house as they learn to navigate this new working landscape. Digital transformation is changing the way people work and keeping up will keep you competitive in an ever-evolving market.  

Not sure how to start preparing your office? Let us help you prioritise so your users get the best experience when they return - book a call with us today, or email consult@ideal.co.uk.

Image found on Canva, By Neydtstock