Should We Be Preparing to Go Back into the Office?

As we look toward the future, many organizations are wondering the same thing: should we be preparing to go back into the office? And if so, how? Find out now.

Our team is on week eight of lockdown, but we’re hearing news about reopenings, and many organizations are looking for information about how to get back to normal. But the question is, should we be preparing to go back into the office at all? Or is remote work the new normal? From what we’ve seen and heard, the new normal will likely involve a hybrid of remote workers and in-office workers. So what should we consider when it comes to opening the office back up? How should we prepare?

Consider the human element of reopening the office

First, consider the human element. Employees don’t have the same say as executives making the call to reopen the office. Still, it’s essential to have communication with everyone involved to understand their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. Those who work in a high-contact industry, for instance, may have many questions about reopening. For starters, will wearing masks in the office cause problems?

People are going to be curious about this. There will be peer pressure involved. Some people won’t care, and some people will. Our recommendation? Try to be inclusive of the people who are concerned. There are many health and safety measures you will need to incorporate, including:

  • The use of face masks and hand sanitizer
  • Regular cleaning throughout the day
  • Testing employee temperatures upon arrival (Talk to us about getting protective screening equipment for your office.)

A look at going “touchless” around the office

Some solutions allow for the ability to go “touchless” upon reopening, include:

  • Touchless access control systems installed in entryways
  • Touchless door openers
  • Touchless alarm systems
  • Touchless motion sensor sinks, hand soap, etc.

They’re not overly invasive and keep germs from being spread around the office – an incredibly beneficial initiative even without the coronavirus concerns as fewer employees will call in sick. You can also take advantage of a new workspace design, such as free-form workspaces or hot-desking, which involves workers using a specific workstation for different time periods with sanitization in between.

What about policies surrounding cleaning, sanitization, and other concerns?

How will cleaning, sanitization, and other measures be handled? It’s helpful to create a policy around this to ensure your expectations are met. We would also recommend making sure those policies are posted around the office. The truth is, people need to be reminded. For supervisors and managers, it’s important to try to understand everyone’s unique situation. Some will have immune-compromised family members at home or other personal reasons to be fearful.

Don’t forget about cybersecurity

Many organizations would prefer to continue working remotely or a combination of remote work and in-office work. During a pre-coronavirus pandemic world, organizations embracing remote work would have strategic security measures in place. But naturally, many of us rushed to transition and failed to implement the proper security measures. This is something that will need to be resolved, especially in highly regulated industries.

Some strategies we’ve seen used for remote work include the following:

Virtual desktop infrastructure/desktop-as-a-service

Virtual desktop infrastructure involves people using their own devices to access the back-end network. The problem is, typically, you’d extend your environment into the cloud, establish cloud governance policies, etc. but when you need to transition quickly, it’s not done as securely. For a lot of us, we opted for function over security.

There are a lot of avenues to reach your systems via the cloud. However, it needs to be done correctly. Breaches can take many months before they’re detected. Take this into consideration and add some vulnerably scanning, penetration testing, and other security measures as you go forward.

Virtual private networks

This can be done similar to a VDI session wherein only specific ports can be accessed. Depending on how the VPN is locked down (or not locked down), a VPN creates avenues wherein that user’s device can impact the network. It’s important to ensure vulnerability scanning, a SIEM solution, and other security measures are put in place to keep control of what’s happening.

Corporate devices used at home

Some organizations opted to simply bring work computers and laptops home. Now a corporate device is sitting at home on an unsafe network. If they haven’t been tracked properly, it’s a risk. When they’re brought back into the environment at work, without any sort of process to determine they’re clean, malware can spread on the network. You should assume that the device is not safe to integrate back into the office. We recommend creating some sort of depot to scan/quarantine those devices before integrating them back.

Questions about reopening your office after the COVID-19 outbreak subsides and lockdowns are lifted? Get in touch with us.

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