By Steven Horgan
It’s been a long and challenging two years since the pandemic required us to pack up our office belongings and work from home, quarantined from our teammates. By most accounts, we’ve handled it well, keeping operations running and relatively competitive despite extraordinary circumstances.
We can thank broadband connections, cloud-based communications and collaboration services, and old-fashioned grit and determination for much of this success. On the app front, cloud-based unified communications (UC) services have been “the glue” holding us together, making it possible for “business as normal” – or as close to normal as is practical – to carry on from afar.
Now, with vaccinations well underway and restrictions lifting, many companies are planning for what comes next. For many, this means hybrid models with employees working in the office and from home. And it’s likely to stay that way. According to Metrigy’s Workplace Collaboration: 2021-22 Research Study, nearly 60% of businesses anticipate at least some in-office attendance, even when employees are given opportunities to continue to work from home.
UC Helps You Reopen Safely
As office doors unlock and “open” signs light up across the country, employers are taking careful steps to ensure their employees can come back to work safely and with confidence that they’re protected from COVID-19 exposure. Those efforts include increases in sanitation activities, erecting plexiglass barriers, adding cubicles and portable walls, and restricting the total number of workers allowed in the office at any given time. Employee health screening and social distance monitoring measures also are under frequent adoption.
Just as they were in 2020 and 2021, cloud-based UC and collaboration solutions will be paramount for ensuring secure remote office connectivity going forward. In fact, UC has an even more expanded role in hybrid work environments, enabling many of the key capabilities needed for safe-office return.
The pandemic has already spawned some unique technological innovations, including:
- Antimicrobial technology embedded in desktop and wireless IP phones
- Reservation systems that allow employees to safely reserve desks and rooms
- Touchless meeting management and in-room air quality monitoring through mobile device controls
- Virtual receptionists that enable contactless employee check-ins
- Gesture and voice recognition interfaces in place of touch screens or other physical control devices
- Many more – numerous “safe return technologies” will emerge as we forge ahead
Be Strategic About Your Return in Three Simple Steps
You need a safe return strategy, whether you’re in the middle of reopening, planning to reopen or contemplating reopening in the future. Following these steps now can save you time, money and headaches later:
- Assess. Determine what your business environment needs. How many employees will return at any given time? What kind of capacity management, distancing, sanitation, air quality, or other factors might be necessary for your employees’ safety – and confidence?
- Turn to Vendors for Help. Contact your vendors to find out about available capabilities and solutions that can help you manage your hybrid workplace. Be sure to ask about UC applications, phones, and accessories since they are essential to hybrid work environments. These solutions are not made equal. For example, you’ll want solutions that can manage seamless handoffs between devices to accommodate employees moving in and out of your office.
- Look Ahead. Ask about product road maps and features under development from your vendors. Many will be innovating for hybrid, work-from-home and work-from-anywhere business models. They can help you capitalize on ongoing opportunities for diversified talent acquisition, localized support capabilities, time-zone driven service hours and other benefits emerging in the wake of the pandemic.
About the Author
Steven Horgan is the Director of Product and Marketing for NetFortris. As a seasoned telecom product veteran, he brings a focused leadership to both teams. During his 10 years at NetFortris, Steven has specialized in aligning product with both partner and customer needs while balancing creating and maintaining a full proprietary product suite.
Contact: 415.287.1232 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Need Some Planning Help for Your Health Return to the Office?
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