Melissa Swartz | May 3, 2021

After scrambling to accommodate remote work, the return to the office can be more thoughtful and methodical.  As organizations begin to bring workers back into the office, there is a lot to consider.

Here are some areas to keep in mind:

  1. Consider what went well, and what didn’t, during the transition to remote work. What did you learn? Document your lessons learned to avoid repeating mistakes when your employees return to the workplace.
  2. Take time to create necessary documentation, especially for processes created on the fly during the transition, including configurations and workflows.
  3. While you probably have identified capabilities that have emerged as “must have” tools going forward, don’t forget about those that are no longer needed.  Eliminate services and equipment no longer necessary. You might even save some money.  This is a good time for a survey to find out what people are thinking.
  4. Determine your status regarding your current contracts for services.
    • Are services still right sized?  Do you have excess capacity in some areas, while others are approaching their peak?  For example, your local and long distance calling minutes may have decreased as people moved to meeting on line, so you may be able to cut back on those services. On the other hand, the on line meetings may have caused a significant increase in your internet usage.
    • When do your contracts expire?  Don’t let them renew automatically making adjustments if needed.
    • Are you satisfied with the provider or do you want to change?
  5. Decide whether your current voice technology solutions are meeting your needs.  Requirements changed significantly during the pandemic.  What may have been comfortable before may not be the best fit for you moving forward.
  6. Assess your collaboration tools. Are they meeting your needs and your user’s expectations?
    • In addition to conferencing (audio and video) and screen sharing, do you need whiteboarding or persistent team collaboration spaces?
    • Is there one solution that will fit your organization, or do some areas need specialized tools?
  7. Have new tools or processes created any training gaps? What training is needed by your support team?  By your end users?  Are there gaps in skills on your team?  Do you need more of this, less of that?
  8. Do any back-end processes need to be developed or revised? Here are areas that may require evaluation:
    • Tools that employees utilize that require an on-site presence.  For example, many time clocks require an employee to be on site to record their time in and out. Do these tools need to be modified or replaced to support remote workers in the future?
    • What policy determines which employees work remotely and how often?
    • Are any changes needed for employee evaluation standards?
    • What rules are different when participating in or managing remote teams?
    • Should you implement a “Remote First” policy that assumes all meetings will have remote attendees? This will require including conference information in all meeting invitations, and changing the way meetings are run to include remote attendees more fully.
  9. Think about how your “old” environment will change once people are back on site. What will be different? Will you have two models (on site and remote) to support going forward? What tools or technology do you need to simplify and make it seamless?

Click here to get a worksheet that walks you through this evaluation process.