Preparing Your Tech to Reopen

The following was published in the May 24, 2020 editions of Foster's and Seacoast Sunday.


As states around the nation begin to ease pandemic restrictions business are beginning to reopen or plan to reopen. Those businesses that were non-essential and required to close are now contemplating a return to some form of new normal.


One thing to keep in mind is that your technology requirements may be different moving forward. Most non-essential businesses have made some form of pivot to remote work to maintain operations through the pandemic. As restrictions ease, some businesses are reopening offices and asking employees to return to the office.


If you are one of these businesses and you partner with an outsourced IT provider, be in close communication with them. Let them know when you plan to reopen your office so your IT partner is prepared for any needs related to staff returning to the office. Have an “opening day” plan and include your IT partner in your planning.


You may choose to reopen your office, but your employees may not want to come back into the office. The reasons for this may vary considerably. The point is that you should not assume that all your employees will want to come back to the office. Especially with companies like Facebook and Twitter announcing that some employees, depending on role, will be allowed to remain working from home permanently, expect some of your employees to want to do the same.


I would recommend surveying your employees before you announce your office reopening plan. It’s important to understand if your staff thinks it’s time to open the office, let alone coming back to it. I know several companies who did this and based on employee feedback, they are not considering reopening offices until July 1 at this point. And everything is subject to change based on current realities.


Recognizing that some staff may wish to remain working from home, either on the short or long term, you want to be working with your IT partners to plan for this. With people remaining home long term, you may not be able to rely on what you have in place right now.


It’s important that work computers not be comingled with personal computers on the home network. You will now be faced with needing to manage at least a portion of the home office environment in order to be certain that your remote worker is working as securely as possible. This may involve deploying company owned assets to an employee’s home. When you do this, you need to have policies and sign-off documentation between the company and the employee, just as you would if they worked in your office.


Businesses contemplating keeping workers at home should work with their IT partners to design a remote working solution. These solutions need to provide the technology that the worker needs to maintain productivity, obviously. The solution also needs to address the security and compliance requirements of the company. If you are not already, plan now so you are ready to reopen your office with the least unexpected interruptions possible. Good luck and stay safe and healthy!

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