Articles

Articles

Articles
Articles

The “new normal”

Posted by Marco Michaud, Millenium Micro Group 22-09-2021 10:59 AM

Certain events cause upheaval in many aspects of our lives. The pandemic has been one of these events. Many now talk about "the new normal", it’s clear many realities of our daily lives have been altered forever. In business, upheaval is an opportunity to reinvent yourself. So we decided to take a look at the technological changes this pandemic is causing across the Canadian landscape.

Throughout the magazine, you’ll find articles on the various technologies that can help businesses through these changes.

Teleworking: advantages/disadvantages
The last 18 months has shown companies, and their employees, both the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. According to a Statistics Canada study, 90% of teleworkers reported doing at least as much work at home as they did in the office. According to the same study, here are some of the benefits that employers have found:

  • Increase in the number of hours worked (25%);
  • Increased efficiency (24%);
  • Decreased absenteeism (19%);
  • Improved work organization (20%);
  • Improved quality of work (18%).

However, this is not the case for everyone. With schools closed, parents with small children were forced to care for their children and in some cases even take on the additional responsibility of teaching. In addition, not everyone has the discipline and focus to work effectively from home. Also noted was that a lack of personal interaction has led to mental health issues.

BDC study conducted in February and March 2021
With a large portion of the population inoculated, companies are beginning to plan for a return to the office. According to a BDC study, 74% of small business leaders will allow their employees to pursue teleworking full or part-time. We need to rethink workspaces and our information technology.

New workspaces
In order to save on operating costs, companies will be able to have a smaller space for the same number of employees. However, there will be a need for unattached offices in common areas. These offices should allow easy connectivity for each employee, regardless of their computer equipment. Our recommendation is to have a monitor connected to a universal docking station that will connect to a laptop through a single USB-C wire. This wire will take care of passing the video signal to the monitor as well as charging the computer.

Since the offices will not be assigned, a solution for personal belongings, such as lockers, will need to be considered. Millenium Micro has smart locker partners that make lockers available to employees without having to manage keys.

Meeting rooms
Although some employees will be in the office, virtual meetings will still take place. Depending on the size of your organization, you should think about having meeting rooms of different sizes:

  • Small for 2 to 3 people;
  • Medium for 4 to 6 people;
  • Large for 7 to 14 people;
  • Extra large for 15 to 25 people.

The rooms must be technologically equipped to make the meetings effective. Conference room solutions from Logitech or Yealink are complete and very easy to use.

A rethinking of IT
In order to allow your team to be mobile, your technologies must be adaptable. For example, employees should all be equipped with laptops, so they can work from anywhere
(home, office, meeting room, hotel, restaurant, etc.).

Then, in order to work from anywhere easily, you need to maximize Microsoft’s modern workspace, which is the Microsoft 365 environment. Your corporate files go into SharePoint, your personal files go into OneDrive, notes go into OneNote and communication goes through Teams. Even your phone system should be integrated with your Teams environment. This way, your employees will be able to communicate easily, no matter where they work. You will need to equip them with a good headset that will allow them to hear and be heard well, no matter the environment.

Some applications may not be able to be moved to the cloud. These can remain on physical or virtual servers, and users access them via VPN login.

When we offer mobility to employees, there is one aspect that is often overlooked: security. Outside your corporate environment, your employees are not as protected. They don’t have a powerful firewall at home that provides some protection. However, there are solutions to enable this mobility without compromising your company’s security too much.

First, all systems that are externally accessible (e.g., Microsoft 365, VPN, etc.) should be protected with multifactor authentication.

Second, laptops must have access to a secure DNS service. DNS is the service that turns website names into IP addresses. A secure DNS service will protect you from a fake website (e.g. gooogle.ca). These protections are in addition to the basic principles of having up-to-date software and an excellent antivirus.

Of course, for the success of these important changes in a company does not rely on technology alone, your employees must also be adequately trained.

The best companies always find a way to adapt to challenges. The pandemic can be seen as an opportunity to re-invent and separate your business from competitors. There are too many benefits to ignore, especially in the face of potential labour shortages in the coming years. Technology can help you meet these challenges and our Affiliates can help you implement and support them.

Marco Michaud, Millenium Micro Group.
www.milleniummicro.ca/en