After a long pandemic of lockdowns that lasted much longer than we initially thought, signs of life are starting to return. The fact that about 33% of Americans have been fully vaccinated (as of early May 2021) has meant many companies are now considering reopening their offices and bringing employees back.
Many people have been working from home for over a year and offices have been largely empty. In a survey of people that have worked remotely since March of 2020, 79% said they were looking forward to getting back to the office at least a couple of days per week.
As great as working from home is, many people do miss that interaction they have with their co-workers. Including, lunch breaks spent socializing, brainstorming sessions with mentors, and just the feeling of comradery and being part of a team.
But, even if you feel it’s safe to begin bringing people back, getting all those systems back up and running isn’t like flipping a switch. During the pandemic, the office operational structure was largely dismantled to accommodate a remote workforce and new cloud solutions. Desks sat idle along with equipment like computers, printers, and servers.
Before you can consider going back to your pre-pandemic office life, you need to have a strategy in place that is going to consider both your people and your technology. Otherwise, you could end up walking into a mess and wondering what happened.
Things to Consider When Planning to Bring Employees Back to the Office
Not Everyone Will Want to Come Back
In the study cited above, the breakdown of employees wanting (or not) to come back to the office was:
- 18% wanted to come back full time
- 61% wanted to come back 2-3 days per week
- 27% did not want to return to the office at all
After over a year of working from home, it’s not going to be easy to just go back to pre-pandemic work-life. You may lose some employees if you force a full return 5 days per week.
You want to consider a transition and flexibility for your team. Understanding that some may prefer a hybrid office-home situation, but others will want to stay home full-time. Balance this with your business needs to come up with flex-work policies that won’t cause you to lose half your team during the transition.
Dormant Equipment Need to Be Serviced & Cleaned
When equipment has been sitting dormant for months, it can collect dust, among other problems. For example, with no people in the office regularly, you may have had a rodent or two come by to chew on a few cords, causing a potential fire hazard when things are turned back on.
Just a little dust that makes its way to a server’s or computer’s hard drive can cause a drive crash and major data loss if you’re not careful.
It’s important to have an IT technician “wake up” your equipment carefully, giving it a full maintenance check and cleaning.
Updates & Patches Will Be Waiting
You know how when you buy a new computer, there’s often a bunch of OS and firmware updates waiting to be installed? These come out from the time the computer was manufactured to the time you buy it and set it up.
The longer your equipment has been dormant, the more updates will be waiting to be installed. And when there are multiple updates to go through, users can end up with major system issues if they try doing the updates themselves.
If those updates aren’t installed before you begin using your device, that leaves you wide open for a ransomware attack or another type of data breach.
You’ll want to ensure that all devices (computers, servers, routers, printers, etc.) that are being turned back on have all updates and security patches installed before they’re put back into use.
Safety Measures (Do Desks Need to Be Spaced?)
The pandemic is not yet over, even though we can now see a light at the end of the tunnel. To ensure you keep everyone safe, you want to have a plan for COVID safety at the office so employees feel secure about coming back to work.
You may need to have your desks and technology moved to allow more spacing between work areas. You should also ensure you know how to clean electronic devices (no water!), so common touch surfaces, like phones and copier keypads are being properly disinfected.
Cloud & Network Infrastructure Reconfiguration
If you’ve had to change your cloud and network configuration to accommodate a remote workforce, you’ll now need to rethink how things are connected. This may mean having employees switch cloud storage syncing to a work computer rather than a personal home device.
It may also mean you need to have network security updated to reflect a change in where employees are working.
GEEK911 Can Help You Put Your IT Pieces Back Together!
GEEK911 can help your San Jose / Silicon Valley business take the steps necessary for a smooth return to the new normal when you bring your employees back to the office.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation! Call 1-866-433-5411 or reach us online.