COVID has forever changed the way businesses and the government operate. The pandemic has also demonstrated the potential for simultaneous success, inadequacies, and failures in working from home. When we envision a return to the physical workplace, implementing policy and operations will be essential. IT enhancements will be just as critical to manage the transition of the workforce in remote work and the newly structured office space.
For years, the General Services Administration (GSA) has led the charge to reconsider how the workplace is structured. The GSA used the power of modern technology to equip workers and teams with the tools they needed to work remotely at least part of the time. After consolidating six leases into one building, the GSA undertook significant renovations to increase the collaboration space and associated technology available to their employees.
The GSA invested in remote collaboration tools and video conferencing tools well before COVID-19. In doing so, they gave employees choice and flexibility while continuing to meet their mission. The further we are into the pandemic, the more we are learning about the IT support needs of a more flexible and remote workforce.
Here are Ten Essential IT Support Enhancements needed as agencies and businesses reopen post COVID-19:
1. Increased Cybersecurity. Applying better tools, controls, practices, and governance, both at home and in the office. Increasing telework comes with unique and increasing cyberrisks.
2. Better Collaborative Technologies. Implementing software solutions that make it easier for employees across multiple locations to work together to problem solve, innovate, design, develop, document, and market products, services, and deliverables. Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR) platforms such as Spatial, are on the horizon, using cutting edge technology like avatars and holographs to collaborate.
3. Enhanced Video Conferencing. Continuing to evolve and improve video conferencing software options and functionality, as well as associated corporate expectations for meeting etiquette.
4. Increased Home Office Internet Bandwidth. Providing information and/or services to employees that help them to set up faster home networks that are appropriately sized for the number of home “workers” in the household.
5. Improved Home Office IT Environment. Providing equipment and/or spending allowances for computer monitors, webcams, docking stations, speakers, etc.
6. More On-Site Meeting Rooms and Less On-Site Offices.Increasing the number of physical meeting rooms, team rooms, and conference rooms so that when teams come together in-person, they have the meeting space they need for discussions and work sessions.
7. Higher Tech On-Site Conference Rooms. Improving the audio and visual technologies used in physical meeting spaces so that attendees, regardless of location, can participate equally. This includes speaker systems that pick up a participant’s voice regardless of where they are sitting, projection systems with multiple screens, electronic white boards, and smart video conference cameras.
8. Expanded IT Help Desk Support. Expanding call center hours of operation to accommodate employees working non-standard hours.
9. On-Site IT Concierge Services. Providing walk-up, Genius Bar, one-on-one type IT help services to employees who are visiting the office as well as those who regularly work in the office – with a special focus on helping employees increase their efficiency in the way they use technology.
10. On-Site IT Support Kiosks and Lockers. Standing up physical kiosks with access to virtual technicians who can perform troubleshooting as well as answer “how-to” questions. Providing physical lockers or vending machines stocked with common IT equipment and/or equipment related to laptop and mobile phone refreshes.
The technology we have at our hands allows us to maximize efficiency and flexibility as employees and businesses. It’s now a question of continuing the momentum and allowing our physical and remote workplaces to evolve, with new and innovative IT support models, tools, and people, behind it.
As government contractors in support of federal missions, we need to focus on how to give the workforce not only technology but a holistic consideration that factors in economy of time and budget, as well as a superior outcome.
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