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Heading Back to the Office…or Not?
Heather Fudger /
/ Categories: Blog, The Smart Workplace

Heading Back to the Office…or Not?

Here Are 10 Ways to Help You Define the New World of Work

COVID-19 has uprooted everything about the way we work.  Offices emptied quickly in mid-March and companies had their employees rapidly shift to work virtually.  Technology that was underutilized prior to the pandemic became crucial, such as video conferencing, laptops, desktop printers and collaboration software.  Businesses learned to empower their employees to work remotely.  Certain companies have been allowing their workers to telecommute for quite some time before the pandemic that shut down the workplaces, while for others, it was a recent adaption. 

Slowly, some have had employees returning to the office, while others have remained virtual.  In the coming months, we will see many organizations reset the “new normal” and go back to life the way it was.  Or will we?  To provide a safe and productive work environment, companies will need to be adaptive to their employee’s needs.  Whether that is completely virtual, entirely in the office or a hybrid of both, the workplace will never be the same.  So, what can be done to ensure the safest return to work and the most productive, collaborative environment for all employees?  We have compiled a list of strategies that will help:

  1. Hands-free, voice-first operations – Until recently, many people didn’t think twice about touching office equipment at work. But now, communal surfaces are a hot topic as concerns over health and safety are on the rise. Workplace leaders are looking to technology to solve these concerns. Now more than ever, touch-free operation of devices in the office is important in order to help keep employees safe. You use voice operation to turn on your lights or play music at home, why not use it in the office to enable your equipment there. Using the power of natural language, Sharp offers voice operation with the help of an Alexa Dot for copying and scanning while minimizing touchpoints of shared office equipment. Additionally, Synappx Go provides a touchless solution to printing, copying and scanning.
  2. Contactless operations with smartphones – The introduction of smartphones and other personal devices have made nearly touch-free technology possible. Anything that operates at the command of your own personal device allows you to avoid touching public surfaces.  Using apps such as Synappx™ Go helps users safely operate shared office equipment using their mobile devices. Synappx Go offers a check in feature using NFC tags to help track touch points in the office. It allows you to print, copy and scan right from your phone. Want to know more? Check out the MFP Voice and Synappx Go touch-free solutions here >>
  3. Meeting Rooms – Meeting spaces will no longer be able to squash in copious amounts of people into one tiny area.  To get the most out of your meeting space, consider redefining your standards.  Small meeting rooms will now become one to two-person huddle spaces while even the largest meeting room may fit no more than a handful of employees. The most valuable piece of technology needed in each meeting area is a video conferencing system for those employees who are physically present and for those who may be remote.  Collaboration displays, such as the Windows collaboration display (WCD) from Sharp, enable better space utilization and more productive collaboration across teams working from remote locations to the office. The WCD helps collaboration in hybrid office situations where some employees may be in a meeting rooms while others are virtual.  As the WCD is supported by Microsoft Teams, enhanced collaboration is enabled anywhere.
  4. Training – Whether for employees or for customers, consider producing webinars with topics related to your business as well as popular matters linked to what is going on in the world today.  Holding online classes for your sales staff is key, as selling in this era is different than what they were previously used to.   Continuous training and development for the entire organization is necessary for engagement of all workers, especially training or webinars for employees to talk about balance and stress.
  5. Health checks – Contactless temp checks at the door will be customary going forward.  Consider having employees download an app to answer questions about their health daily before entering the office. Devices, such as LivMote, a touchless solution offered by Sharp, scans each person who comes through the office doors for their temperature. It also provides mask checks and asks customizable screening questions while ensuring social distancing.
  6. Social Distancing – It is no longer feasible to have open workspaces, which was all the rage a few years ago.  Employees need to have their own space, where they can feel comfortable and confident that they will be distanced from their coworkers. Split shifts will become more common. Hoteling may be a thing of the past.
  7. Masks – While they will not prevent COVID entirely, masks will absolutely help to not spread the virus to others when social distancing is not possible.  Remember, you wear your mask to protect your neighbor and vice versa.
  8. Cleaning – The cleaning crews that came in sporadically pre-COVID will not cut it any longer.  The entire workplace will need to be deep cleaned quite often, especially focusing on common areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and conference rooms.
  9. Resources for mental health – For some employees, the sudden shift to remote work may have caused mental health challenges.  For those who use the office as a way of socializing, isolation and loneliness can bring about a new set of struggles. Those working parents who suddenly had children home with them scrambled to balance both their home and work life.  Adding to this, anxieties over possibly losing jobs and financial stability led to workplace burnout.  As referenced in the training paragraph above, holding training for employees to talk about balance and stress are key.
  10. Communication – Ensure your employees are privy to all discussions when it comes to returning to the office. Send out surveys that can be answered anonymously.  Make sure all employees have a voice and they feel comfortable with the decisions being made. Be flexible and listen to your staff. They may have ideas that company leaders have not thought of. 

COVID has changed everything about how and where we work.  The office will have a very different look and feel when or even if employees go back.  One thing is for sure, safety is the number one priority in every organization.  Following these 10 tips will help ensure your employees will be safe, productive and collaborative no matter where they are.


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