Tyler's Trending Tuesday - Week 2 Reopening Office Updates

Author: Tyler Cox


Happy to have you back! This week we have some great updates for you all. Over the past week we have seen a lot of new initiatives being planned out by companies as things start to open back up. While some workforces have begun to go back into the office officially, others are initiating permanent work from home for the foreseeable future. And of course, with the holiday weekend, you can tell people are starting to get a bit “homesick” – and in this case, it might be changing from “missing home” to actually “sick of being home”. These are all things we see on the news or hear on the radio, so let’s get into the details of what’s really happening. 


Industry Specific Changes

Certain sectors are having to adapt in ways they most likely never intended on. We have seen government and education being the ones that have had to pivot their normal day-to-day interactions the most rapidly to continue these large parts of our society without losing any day to day efficiency. Normal court proceedings have been taking place over Zoom calls and even some big blunders have occurred, i.e.: Forgetting to mute your mic during a Supreme Court argument or appearing naked while on a call with the President of Brazil. Now hopefully you get a little laughter out of these, but we are about to see the first jury by trial through Zoom in Texas. Judge Keith Dean, on the case, had to make a statement to the jurors:

“For centuries if you’ve got jury duty you have to go to the courthouse for jury duty, in this case the courthouse has come to you. But I want you to see this as jury duty. You’re not at home during jury duty. You’re at jury duty, you just happen to be at home.”

These century old ways are changing very rapidly, and education is another place where things are adapting. School classrooms, online learning and group projects are seeing new trends. Teachers are presenting from their living rooms, 100 plus lecture halls are being done over Zoom or Teams and group projects are through virtual calls with your groups. This won’t last forever but for the time being it is how things will work. Former secretary of education for Massachusetts, Paul Reville says it very well here:

“Most of our big systems don’t have this sort of backup. Now, however, we’re not only going to have to construct a backup to get through this crisis, but we’re going to have to develop new, permanent systems, redesigned to meet the needs which have been so glaringly exposed in this crisis.”

It takes unprecedented measures for us to realize what we need to be prepared for times like these and this will have a huge impact on the AV industry for sure. With the summer just beginning it is a good time for schools to figure out how they will implement new learning systems and classrooms for the students while following certain social distancing guidelines. Some large universities are building out tents on fields on campus with tables and chairs and projectors and testing those as classrooms. Our industry will have to adapt with specific products that can help ease the buildouts for the education industry.

Company Adaptations

Something that really caught my attention was the moving of working your remote employees from working on a VPN to SD-WAN at home. VPN for employees working from home was always the more logical choice and money saving route, but still secure. Now with security heightened and the working from home not going anywhere anytime soon, setting up SD-WAN at home might make more sense for our workers:

“With the SD-WAN edge at home, IT can take a more fine-grained approach to managing users, access, security and the other aspects of connectivity back to the main headquarter. SD-WAN enables some traffic to go to the main office and some traffic to go directly to cloud services under the company’s control and parameters, with a final block of traffic…” Check out here

Moving this way would depend if you have a VPN in place already for your organization. If not, this option seems to be making sense to those businesses that are now hiring strictly remote employees and companies that are continuing the work from home far passed the “at home shelter” restrictions.

Making sure your employees are efficient when working from home without badgering them or micromanaging them has also been a hot topic. Yes, arm them with the right equipment and internet bandwidth so that calls and day to day tasks can get done, but being a strong leader without breathing down their neck is something that higher ups have to be concerned about. This new reality calls for leaders to become COVID-agile”.

Companies are taking to virtual events and working closely with HR to encourage their employees to participate in such things. These virtual hostings might be a great substitute for the face-to-face interaction but you can only look at your computer screen for so long without getting a headache!

We know that some large tech companies like Facebook, Google, Shopify and Upwork are allowing for their employees to work from home until the end of year, but Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, told his employees that they can work from home “forever”. What “forever” might actually mean is open to interpretation, but with offices opening back up we are seeing increases of some folks not being emotionally ready to get back to the office. We are at a middle ground where some want to be back in the office for the human interaction and others are not ready to get back with no real end of this virus. A recent Gallup poll stated:

“Seventy-seven percent of the workforce say they want to continue to work from home, at least weekly, when the pandemic is over…Twenty-five to thirty percent of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”

By the end of the 2021?! We have a long way to go folks and if we are realistic with ourselves then these numbers shouldn’t seem too strange. Something else that should not come as a surprise is that companies IT budgets will be prioritized very differently now. From a recent Forbes article that outlines many ways companies can focus their budgets:

“The crisis has sidetracked many IT initiatives and placed severe demands on many IT organizations. But it has also created a unique opportunity for CIOs to work more closely with their business partners in making their companies more resilient and successful in the future.”

Take a look at some of the findings in these articles below regarding office architecture, new design innovations, temperature readings and home/work balance:  

As stated in week one of our Trending Tuesdays, we can only move forward one day at a time. News comes in so fast that you don’t know what to trust and what might be implemented into our future. We can only speculate on what we might think will be the best for outcome. What we need to remember is that our companies can only continue their success when the employees feel comfortable and ready to move forward. If you must implement every other day at the office, then please do so. If you have the technology and company wide bandwidth to have everyone work from home until we have a vaccine, then go ahead and do that. Just follow the guidelines that are in front of us and we can make it through this.

What we do know is that working from home can take a toll on our mental health as well. Please be cautious of this and know when you need a break from your day. Human interaction allows us to see and feel emotion in front of us. Video calls might give you half of what you truly read from meeting someone in person. Don’t tire yourself out and try to find a work life balance. Looking forward to next week!