On Tuesday, May 5th, 2020, SM&W hosted the first of four webinars in a series titled “Planning for the Future: Technology Considerations in a Post-COVID19 World”. The first webinar focused on technology specific to corporate environments and spaces. Keep reading for a recap.
It has been about 2 months since we began working remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic impact has been profound, with perhaps the largest impact being felt right here in the U.S. with unemployment hitting nearly 20%. As late as mid-April, it was reported that at least 70% of corporate management teams have been considering how to get back to the workplace. Knowing that this is not an easy road, it is safe to say that the workplace we will be returning to will be different than what we left. So, what does the future look like? While we don’t have a crystal ball, we can certainly agree that the new norm will be heavily reliant upon technology.
When we think of re-opening our businesses, we have to think about operational processes, staffing, and the physicality of how our staff interacts not only with others but with surfaces/spaces. Things like access control and surveillance are some of those technologies that come in to play when thinking about merely entering a building. Once inside, digital signage is a great way to inform and communicate to employees and visitors on a large scale. It can provide communications to your team both in the lobby and entrance areas, as well as throughout your building with messages from management, new procedures, or even transit alerts. These resources may already be in place and can be updated and monitored from a remote location.
Collaboration tools are still needed, but how does SM&W see the utilization of these tools changing in this climate? Collaboration tools can undoubtedly help facilitate social distancing while supporting a collaborative corporate environment. Room reservation technology is also a great tool. If you are not using it, you may want to consider starting. Room reservation technologies can provide opportunities to allow guests into elevators, through security, and safely into your meeting spaces with minimal person to person interaction.
Everyone, understandably, now wants a touchless office environment, but does that make sense with your meeting technology? In the short term, we would not encourage you to throw out your hardware or get Alexa up and running in your conference rooms. A simple sanitizing of your existing touchscreens will suffice for now. An assessment of your current technology and its compatibility with voice control can provide a future upgrade path. And while your technology has to provide a collaborative environment, you want to create a consistent experience whether in or out of the office.
It is no surprise that technology relies on the building infrastructure. What are SM&W’s experts seeing in terms of support for network connectivity and infrastructure planning? We are seeing a huge need for carefully planned infrastructure to support multiple systems, and the true integration of AV and IT systems. SM&W’s starting point is an assessment of a firm’s current capabilities to determine the right infrastructure needs, and plan for future capacities as well. This assessment is paramount in determining how current and new technologies can be utilized in the new workplace environments. A lot of times some of these systems, like outdoor cameras or lobby surveillance, can run on a wireless network. Additionally, phone systems and email systems can be pushed out to the cloud. Web-based platforms can not only be cost-effective solutions, but also help reduce your corporate network bandwidth requirements.
While we need to brace for the long haul, we should not be panicked. The virus has really acted as an accelerant of the adoption of technology and what all it can do. A careful needs analysis is imperative in understanding what your network and existing systems can do for you, as well as planning and implementing positive changes. Technology is not always a one size fits all solution. SM&W understands the complexities of your unique environments and is here for you as you plan for returning to your workspaces.
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