The post-pandemic office work arrangement is still largely unsettled. Some employees are back full-time in the office, while others aren’t going back at all. There are also in-between models, called hybrids, that have employees in the office some days and at home others. While employers continue experimenting with the situation that best suits their culture and business needs, all are looking to ensure their employees remain as productive as possible. To do that, many are leaning heavily on technology — hardware, software, cloud services, etc. — to ensure access, connectivity and security.
Smart Business spoke with Lauren Hanna, Vice President of Sales at Blue Technologies, about evaluating technology in an evolving work environment.
What are some areas of emphasis as employers evaluate their work arrangement?
Whatever that work environment looks like, enabling collaboration is a key consideration when evaluating technology. Employers want to make sure everyone in the organization can still work together, and get input and contributions from people regardless of whether they’re physically near each other.
From a technology standpoint, there are many ways to collaborate. Videoconferencing has enabled face-to-face conversations and meetings, while cloud-based software has enabled file sharing.
Another aspect of keeping people productive is the ability to access the tools, files and data they need both in the office and outside of it. Companies should understand what people are using, how this affects their access, and whether or not improvements are in order to streamline this access so that, regardless of their location, they have the same ability to access critical tools and information.
What technology issues have employers faced?
One challenge is ensuring that employees have what they need to get their job done. When the pandemic led to office closures, many employees didn’t have a laptop that was suitable to continue working. So something as basic as making sure employees have the right hardware, such as a laptop and/or scanner, in place can ensure people are still being productive.
Another challenge is getting feedback from each other. Remote work situations can lead to a loss of knowledge transfer among colleagues, especially from seasoned employees to new hires. Without the proper accommodations, people can miss out on the input they would otherwise get from the person sitting next to them. That loss of knowledge transfer can become an issue. Fortunately, there are ways to help reduce that loss of knowledge by increasing collaboration via the right technology.
A third challenge is the different technical aptitudes of employees. There are many generations in today’s workforce, all with different technical abilities who are trying to use new technology. However, they’re not together to learn it and figure out the best way to use it. Here, again, technology can be leveraged to reach these individuals with training that can help employees of any level of proficiency improve those skills.
Who can help employers with these challenges?
Every plan has its snags. Unfortunately, when problems arise, many companies are searching the web for a quick fix instead of looking for a more holistic solution. That’s where IT managed services has been able to help.
Managed service providers have specialists at employers’ disposal whose sole job is to evaluate all of the elements within a business and identify obstacles, bottlenecks and vulnerabilities from a technology standpoint. Then they’re able to offer potential remedies to overcome those challenges and ensure vulnerabilities are patched so they’re not exploited.
Identifying and closing security risks today is full-time job. There are more points of failure and vulnerability within the hybrid environment, and the external threats have not only increased but have become more sophisticated. Putting IT in the hands of a capable service provider means more time spent on key organizational initiatives and less time spent plugging holes in technology infrastructure. ●