How Businesses Can Optimize Their Workflow, Improve Adaptability, and Offer Flexibility with the Imminent Return to the Office
Now that businesses have adapted to remote and hybrid work, we are all wondering…where do we go from here? What do employees want? What is best for the business and day-to-day operations?
The one thing the pandemic has promised is that the traditional workplace and daily operations are long gone. The focus for HR, business owners, and IT alike has shifted to reconfiguring the workspace and the enablement of both hybrid and in-person collaboration once teams return to the office. So, say goodbye to company desktop computers and daily commuting, and hello to the office of the future.
The methods for operating and optimizing the workspace of tomorrow are discussed during our Reimagining Your Workplace Webinar.
The first question many businesses need to ask is “do employees want to return to the office?” As you can probably predict, employees are valuing flexibility more than anything with the looming return to the daily 9-to-5 grind.
Among the world of commuters, there seems to be a divide in preferences for returning to the office or staying home. Some team members miss the collaboration opportunities only available in the office, while others can’t see a workspace which doesn’t include their slippers. After more than a year at home, studies are finding that most employees want some say in the matter and some may even quit or take a pay cut to maintain their newly-found work life balance. According to a recent study highlighted in our webinar, 63% of workers want to always have the option of going into the office or working from home.1 This requires the future office environment to foster a hybrid approach. This change in the needs of the workforce requires businesses to completely reimagine the workplace.
The return of the office is quickly approaching in many places of the world (if it hasn’t happened already) and as your organization looks to create a new fluid, hybrid workspace, you may be inclined to lean on a Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy. BYOD enables employees to work from their own devices for improved comfort and productivity, both at home and in the office. But, planning for traffic from personal devices requires additional considerations: with a rise of more than 97% in the use of personal devices in the workplace, companies must consider the many risks associated with BYOD.2
Company networks need to implement security standards, wireless networking, and virus scanning when implementing a network architecture, to prepare for a new, wider range of internet-connected (possibly insecure) devices such as smartphones, tablets, smart watches, and of course laptops, for workplace use. By securing and monitoring these new devices, enterprises can confidently approach the new way of working.
Another repercussion of the pandemic is an IT shortage, because of the increasing resources required to maintain more devices and larger networks. IT departments have been depleted everywhere due to the pandemic. Companies planning on being remote for the foreseeable future didn’t see the need for an on-site IT presence; however, with an imminent return to the offices, companies must create a solution to manage the wave of devices requiring integration and security. Digital transformation projects can help add network automation to handle day-t-day tasks to ease the burden on IT.
Along with the new processes for BYOD, another trend has emerged from the shift to hybrid work – hot-desking (or hoteling) – forcing offices to begin retooling their network capabilities. The traditional workspace network and shrinking IT departments are simply not equipped to handle the huge influx of new devices and security threats.
That is where systems such as SD-WAN and Wi-Fi® 6 come in. Being able to expand bandwidth and increase password security is a must-have to combat the strains associated with the increase in workers returning to the office. It is imperative that your IT departments observe and control your new network from a “central pane of glass,” and efficiently manage digital transformation and security.
Wi-Fi 6 is especially important in creating a secure and capable network. Most critically, the emerging Wi-Fi 6 networks can handle the enormous load that new devices are placing onto office bandwidth. Furthermore, Wi-Fi 6 also keeps personal and company devices secure, by supporting a system of Wireless Protected Access (WPA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA). With the dynamic nature of hot-desking and hybrid work, Wi-Fi 6’s ability to keep workers secure and productive is imperative. Employees must be able to work from any workspace now, and their wireless network needs to be just as flexible.
At the forefront of network optimization is Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN). This new WAN infrastructure revolutionizes enterprise networking, by increasing bandwidth and security, while eliminating many operational costs.
By creating a central “head” of your network tree, you can create policy and effortlessly implement it across different branch locations, while requiring less IT resources. SD-WAN is changing the game when it comes to managing your network, just in time for transitioning workers back to the office. With SD-WAN, your business can optimize your workflow needs to meet the demands of a hybrid workplace.
The landscape of the traditional office has changed forever due to the pandemic. Companies need to be prepared for workers to come back to the office with new devices, while still being able to support those continuing to work from home. The “new normal” requires enterprises to support a mix of company and personal devices, while keeping everyone secure and productive. By updating your network and joining the wave to SD-WAN and Wi-Fi 6, your business can turn the workspace dilemma into a workspace opportunity.
To help you adapt and capitalize on an ever-changing landscape of technology challenges and solutions, watch our full Reimagining Your Workplace Webinar.
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1. Findings from the Remote Employee Experience Index
2. As personal use of managed devices becomes ubiquitous, risks increase