Returning To The Office? It's Time To Review Your Workplace Technology
It can feel like the dark time of COVID and lockdowns were long ago, but in reality, many businesses are still gradually returning to offices around the country. With hybrid work, video meetings and greater workplace flexibility clearly here to stay, the way we work has evolved to a new state.
At the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020, businesses scrambled to digitise processes, set up video collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, and equip all employees with laptops and other devices to be able to work from home. Meanwhile, technology in the office sat gathering dust for 2-3 years.
As your staff return to the office, it is important to reassess your workplace technology suite. Do your WFH changes align with a hybrid or office-based setup? Is your office equipped to handle the volume of video meetings that you have daily? Do you have old technology lying about that you need to refresh?
To ensure your team have the workplace technology they need to be productive and happy, it's a good idea to review these 4 areas of your business technology and ensure they fit in with the new normal.
Video-Enabled Meeting Rooms: A New Necessity
In your last 5 meetings, how many had at least one person attending over video? We'd bet that it was pretty close to 100%. With the increased volume of video meetings each day, there is a growing demand for video-enabled meeting spaces. However, many businesses are finding that they lack sufficient video meeting rooms to accommodate this need. We've heard tales of fights breaking out over meeting rooms, and open-plan offices erupting in a chorus of voices as staff take meetings from their desk due to lack of availability.
Prior to COVID, you might have had a single boardroom equipped with videoconferencing hardware, but it's simply not enough anymore. To make matters worse, this old Polycom or Cisco hardware might not be compatible with Microsoft Teams!
To ensure your team have functional spaces to meet with clients and colleagues, setting up video-enabled meeting rooms that work with Teams or Zoom is essential. This ensures smooth communication and collaboration where the team can share ideas, present designs, and discuss strategies with both in-office and remote attendees.
Phone Systems: Modernising and Simplifying
If you haven't already gotten rid of your on-site PBX phone system and moved to a cloud-based phone system or Unified Communications to enable communication throughout COVID, then it's definitely something to take a look at now. When we moved to remote work, phone handsets on our desks were left behind as softphones and tools like Microsoft Teams took their place.
With the continued prominence of hybrid work, it makes less sense to retain desk phones for all employees and continue to have your IT team manage an onsite PBX system. Depending on your phone system, you may be paying for way more than you need, with most internal communications, calls, and meetings having shifted into tools like Teams and Slack.
Microsoft Teams, in particular, presents a unique opportunity for consolidation. Having grown from 20 million users in April 2020 to over 180 million as of 2023, Teams has become the norm for many businesses when it comes to live messaging, meetings and internal calling. With the addition of Teams Calling into your tech stack, you can eliminate a PBX or softphone system and run all communications from a single application.
Printers and Copiers: Changing with the Times
As we all moved to work from home, your trusty office printer was abandoned to gather dust in your empty office. Many businesses digitised processes and printing volumes across the country dropped sharply. Even though the way we work has changed significantly over the last few years, your print agreement might still be from the wonderful times before COVID.
It's common for managed print agreements to have a term from 3-5 years in length. This means that if you last updated your print management in 2019 or early 2020, you could still be on that agreement to this day, and possibly for another year or so! If that's the case, you're probably paying for printers and volumes that you no longer need.
Regardless of whether you're continuing to work from home, gone hybrid or returning to the office, it's important to evaluate your current print management solution. If your business is not printing as much as before, consider reducing your printer fleet and adjusting print volumes to align with your current requirements. Conducting a post-COVID review of your print could reduce your costs substantially, and ensure that you're only paying for what you need. You might even take the opportunity to ditch your print servers that your IT team are stuck maintaining.
Laptops: Planning for End-of-Life Replacements
During the shift to WFH, you most likely had to purchase laptops to facilitate remote work. These devices are now approaching their third year of use, which means they may be nearing the end of their effective life cycle.
Replacing end-user laptops is a time-consuming and costly endeavour, so it is good to start planning now. Have users' needs changed as their work has changed? Do they need lighter devices to move between home and office? Can full-time office or remote users swap to a cheaper desktop? Has the decentralisation of work made running up and deploying devices a larger burden on IT that needs to be looked at?
There is a lot to plan for, and that doesn't even consider the cash flow impact of replacing a fleet of expensive laptops. Maybe you want to look for OpEx-based alternatives like a Device as a Service plan. Getting end-user devices right is integral to staff satisfaction and needs to be a priority.
Reviewing your workplace technology: Where to start?
The post-covid era presents an opportunity to reassess and update workplace technology. By evaluating your current setup and making some key adjustments, you can deliver a smoother technology experience for your staff, reduce your expenses and align your workplace technology to your overall business strategy.
Our team are helping businesses conduct post-COVID reviews of their workplace technology and is finding easy wins that save your IT team's time and deliver solutions that support both in-office and remote employees.
Talk to our team about your workplace technology.