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Return-To-Work Series: Our Virtual Workplace

2020-03-16 Our Hour Screenshot
The first ORION GROWTH OUR HOUR during COVID-19 stay@home orders

Of course, our virtual workplace is at the forefront of everybody’s mind, because just about everyone is working there right now.  When we return to the physical workplace, our office is going to look different and we are going to be asked to change our behaviors.  There might be space between our workstations or six-foot circles on the floor, and there will definitely be hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes on our desktops.  Meetings will start with elbow bumps at best and half of the team will be outside of the room. Logically, safety precautions taken in the workplace must apply to the technology that we use there and that we often bring home.

There is no question we will increase the investment in hardware, software, and training to extend the workplace outside the bounds of the office. If we use a computer to perform most of our job, in many cases we have worked effectively from home since mid-March. We continue to be productive even with the increased demands of significant others and children staying at home too. I’ve seen anecdotal reports that software developers and engineers are actually being more productive because they are keeping their best hours for work (insert here the obligatory picture of a coder with his high-caffeine energy drink in dark solitude). This productivity has happened because of the infrastructure that our companies have put in place to unify communications and file-sharing along with video conference calls that are new to some and seem to be wearing on us all.

At Orion, we believe that the highest purpose of a workplace is to restore the human connection. Going back to the office will make collaborative conversations easier. We want to get back to brainstorming sessions and problem-solving meetings and on-the-wall thinking.  We will get back to heads down productivity later.  Sure, it will be nice to get things done without our miniature roommates tugging on us to quit early and join the fun.  But, when stay@home orders are over, we might be even more productive outside of the workplace. Let’s collaborate smartly, making the most of our time together and being thankful for the technology that has brought us together while physically apart these many days.

Now a next action list for an effective return-to-work strategy for technology has these three categories: keep our tech safe, increase remote work investment, and collaborate smartly.

  • Keep Our Tech Safe
    • Dispose of shared HID* (sharing a keyboard and mouse is not just gross anymore, it is not safe)
    • Bring your own device and share to screen as needed
    • Use voice activation where available
    • Have a Community Manager issue whiteboard markers or other multi-use tools
    • Assign a single employee to clean & maintain the Copier / Printer / Plotter
    • Remove tech from the work surface daily for effective cleaning; provide laptop backpacks!
    • Pen & paper are technology, too: bring your own & use it!
  • Increase Remote Work Investment
    • Training, training, & more training: the time investment must be greater than the dollars spent.
    • Train on daily use applications & basic troubleshooting skills
    • Create a Remote Support playbook
    • Increase security & compliance reviews
    • Enable self-service password reset
    • Use multi-factor authentication and train your staff on it
    • Educate coworkers about Phishing scams
    • Provide mentoring for time management skills
  • Collaborate Smartly
    • Communicate staggered workdays so that teams can coordinate with each other
    • Make screen sharing wireless i.e. touchless
    • Provide everyone headsets with noise cancelling mics
    • Use software that unifies chat, video, calls with file-sharing
    • Reimburse employees for home bandwidth
    • Encourage presence messages and camera use for impromptu conversations
    • Allow people to turn the video camera and presence off to relax

We’ve talked about the return-to-work user experience of your employees. What about your customers? Are your employees trained to be trainers for your customers? Are you willing to share your desktop with a customer and search for a file while they look on?  Are you protecting the data and information about your customers and using it wisely on their behalf?

In the next part of our Return-To-Work series, Chris and Brian are going to combine expertise in commercial real estate and asset recovery to show you how Orion applies cost-saving principles to the workplace. We use information about capital and operating expenses around lease requirements to provide an evidence-based method for your next office decision-making.


*Human Interface Device