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Want to downsize your office space post-COVID-19? Consider these technology questions first

Jun 17, 2020

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, did your organization traditionally resist the idea of letting employees work from home? You’ve probably gone through a big change in mindset since then. You may even be wondering whether you truly need as much office space as you currently have.

Office space, especially in large cities, is expensive, and your organization may be interested in the potential cost savings in downsizing and letting a certain number of employees continue to work remotely.

For example, if pre-COVID-19 you had 150 employees in an office, and each one had either an office or a cubicle, could you save money downsizing your floor plan to accommodate 100 people and build out some hoteling space for employees who largely work from home? What do you need to know about the technology requirements of such a move?

Our previous article explored how organizations can rethink real estate needs post-COVID-19. This piece is going to dive into the technology side of things.

Rethinking your office technology

When talking about your organization’s technology, we have to look at the two biggest pieces of it: office technology and remote worker technology.

You know saving money by downsizing your office space will come in the form of reduced rent and electric/heating costs, but there are technology savings to be had, too:

  • The reduced need for installing, monitoring and maintaining physical security, such as cameras and card readers
  • The reduced need for maintaining as many printers and fax machines
  • The potential to rely more on electronic communication than paper communication
  • The reduced need for as much wireless coverage and internet speed, as you will be supporting fewer employees

If your organization is looking to move from a larger office building to a smaller office building, it’s important to answer the many IT infrastructure questions that come with such a move — and answering them when you begin the planning phase, not after. Answer questions like: Do you need security card access? How many network drops and wireless coverage points do you need? Where will your fax machines and printers go? How long can your network be down during the move, or can you run both sites simultaneously?

It’s also important to have conversations around the cloud.

If you’re not already using cloud-based technology, there are reasons not to. If you run machinery that requires servers, or if you have legacy software running internally, you may want to consider keeping your on-premises servers.

But if you have an email server, for example, you could save significant money by moving to a cloud-based application such as Office 365. And the cloud is always going to be better for remote workers, as it allows them to access software applications and company data from anywhere, further enabling them to do their jobs effectively.

It doesn’t hurt to do a cost comparison to see if it makes sense for your organization to move to the cloud. You’ll have to look at licensing costs and the time and labor it will take, but when you weigh that against long-term productivity gains and cost-savings in not maintaining servers, you might come out on top.

Rethinking your remote worker technology

Before you begin planning an office-space downsize, it’s important to have conversations about whether you’re fully enabling your remote workforce to be successful. Have you supplied them with external monitors, the right software and any other critical technology pieces they may need?

Internet is one of the biggest concerns for remote work. Do all of your employees have stable and high-speed internet? If an employee lives in a more rural area and relies on dial-up or satellite internet, that’s not very compatible with remote access software and cloud solutions. Some states actually require organizations to provide mobile internet hotspots or a stipend for employees who need them. If you want to downsize office space and encourage more employees to work from home, consider the cost of providing the technology they need to be successful versus the cost of maintaining your current office space.

Security is also a huge concern. Securing data when it leaves your organization isn’t a new concept, but the long-term trend of moving from company-provided cell phones to personal mobile devices means that mobile device management is more important than ever.

From laptops to cell phones, organizations should implement encryption, the use of a secure VPN and multi-factor authentication to ensure a high level of security no matter where the employee is working. Specifically for smartphones, consider using a mobile device management application such as Microsoft Intune, which is capable of remote wiping company data from the phone, as well as preventing screenshots and prohibiting copying and pasting inside the company email application.

Getting help with office move logistics

After taking into account your office-based tech and your remote worker tech requirements, you may find it isn’t cost-effective to downsize. Or you may find it worthwhile, or at least worth pursuing further for more concrete answers.

Wipfli is here to help. We offer robust consulting services around new-building construction, office moves and remote workforce needs — taking into consideration everything from where your network points should be located for maximum efficiency to what types of equipment would give you the most ROI to what security should be in place to protect company data, whether it’s in-office or on a remote worker’s laptop.

Should you move to the cloud? Are your internal controls robust enough to support remote work? Are there gaps in your cybersecurity? How do you envision your technology five years down the road? Wipfli can help you answer all of these questions, whether it’s by developing a technology roadmap or performing a gap analysis and providing recommendations.

Click here to learn more about our remote workforce enablement solutions, or continue reading on:

6 technology mistakes you may be making during your office move

See you at the office? Companies rethink real estate needs after COVID-19

 2020’s top 5 tech trends for small businesses


Jeff Anger
Senior Manager
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