On 22nd February the Prime Minister outlined the four step programme to move England out of the Covid lockdown and associated restrictions. The devolved governments made similar announcements for their respective countries shortly afterwards.

Businesses around the UK now have to consider what working life might look like in the second half of 2021 and start planning.

As providers of essential services for the UK infrastructure, Bridge Fibre has been open throughout the pandemic. We’ve had a skeleton staff in the office whilst most of our people worked from home. This doesn’t mean we haven’t had to start thinking about how we manage our return.

There is no doubt that working from home is now “a thing” for many, many people. Some love it, some hate it but the sense is that most people like it enough to do it for part of the week but miss the collaboration (and socialisation) benefits of being in the same building. Hence we expect many of our staff to work what is termed a hybrid arrangement that combines home and office working. What that actually means will vary from team to team but what we do know is that we need to be ready.

Ready for those who return before all restrictions are lifted and ready for the possibility that everyone might come in at the same time once they can.
When lockdown was announced there was an exodus of staff clutching screens, keyboards and other associated IT paraphernalia. I’m sure this was the same for many of our customers. Here are some of the things we’ve had to consider:

  • Lateral Flow Tests – we expect our customers to start opening up which might mean field engineer and account management meetings. With or without a vaccine we need to think about testing.
  • Tech Kit – as mentioned earlier a lot of our colleagues are now set up to work from home. This could mean we are short of kit in the office.
  • Tidying Up (!) – considering we’ve had hardly anyone in the desks seem to have become covered in routers, switches and other bits of networking equipment. This is always a good opportunity to sort out what we still need but equally important, reset the benchmark for order. We’ve recycled a lot of cardboard in the past few weeks! Are there loose cables with no obvious home? Is that why the printer doesn’t work?
  • Desk Allocations – who sits where? Who’s left? Who’s joined? Who gets the window seat?
  • The Other Stuff – drinks, specifically tea, coffee and milk, fresh fruit, cleaning rotas and even toilet rolls and soap. Is the bike rack clear? What about the storeroom.

There will also be an impact on your wider technology – here are some areas you might want to consider:

  • Internet – have you got enough bandwidth? Everyone now uses video calls and cloud-based collaborations services meaning more data coming in and more going out
  • Storage and Back Up – do you still need servers on the premises? Is now the time to consider hosting in the cloud?
  • Telephony – are all the handsets still there? Will the hunt groups set up before still work? Have you included new starters and removed leavers? Given the rise of unified communications solutions such as Microsoft Teams is now the time to switch to internet-based telephony, with the savings and flexibility it brings? Have you thought about using TeamsLink? This combines IP telephone services to external numbers with the collaboration functionality of Teams.
  • Security – Have you got a full disaster recovery strategy in place, with associated back up services? Does everyone remember their passwords? Is two factor authentication now standard? What other program have been downloaded onto company devices that need to be virus checked? Why are you only doing this now?

As ever, we are here to help. Let your Account Manager know when you are planning to start looking at this and we can make sure we’re ready for you so that you are ready for your return.

Tim Ireland