What do corporations need to make their returning employees comfortable and efficient after two years of working from home?
Businesses and enterprises face yet another operational hurdle in already-challenging conditions: How to equip – or, in many cases, re-equip – offices to accommodate employees who have grown used to working at home with their own IT and other office devices for the past two years.
What are the best IT and office equipment strategies that businesses should utilize to help make these returning full- or part-time workers both comfortable and efficient? Do businesses need to completely rethink their office environment? How do businesses re-establish or maintain communication cohesion between employees? And how do technology vendors reach and satisfy these potentially new corporate customers?
TWICE spoke with Fred Towns, president of New Age Electronics, about how businesses and enterprises can best deploy technology to adapt and thrive in this “new normal” hybrid office-home environment.
TWICE: After two years of working from home, are employees reluctantly returning to their offices only to find corporate office technology that is unfamiliar – or not as good as their own?
Fred Towns: As employees return to the office, either full time or on a hybrid schedule, companies are adopting different strategies to make reentry as smooth as possible. Even if employees return to the same work schedule they had pre-pandemic, many companies have had to shift their offerings to accommodate new ways of working. For example, at New Age Electronics, we made sure all our employees came back to a workstation that included two monitors, a docking station, mouse and keyboard, thus making the transition seamless – and, in many cases, giving the employees a better working environment than they may have at home.
TWICE: If this hybrid home/office situation is permanent, what are the social, productivity and especially technological consequences?
Towns: Where we see a challenge in virtual environments is in the social and collaborative aspects of business. It’s important for colleagues to be able to stay connected and work together in a way that mimics as closely as possible live teamwork scenarios. Thankfully, collaboration technology has advanced significantly in response to this need.
TWICE: What technologies can enterprises deploy to maintain or even enhance this social, collaborative connection?
Towns: We see a great opportunity for enhanced collaboration in the workplace, and [businesses] need to have the best equipment to ensure the best experience. Webcams and headsets will be a must for videoconferencing, especially with the changing dynamic in the workspace, a more open environment. Conference rooms will need to be updated with the latest video/audio equipment, including conference technology.
TWICE: Has – or how much has – the gap between consumer IT tech products and “consumer” IT gear closed? How has this difference changed how businesses and consumers chose their technology products, and from where they buy them?
Towns: In the entry-level consumer PC space, the bridge between “consumer” and “enterprise” IT products has not closed. Consumer tech devices continue to be home- and student-focused and are not necessarily preferred devices for business needs. Where the lines begin to blur is in the $599+ space as many of these devices have both the horsepower and the tools – fingerprint readers as an example – to be used in both the personal and office space.
TWICE: Many larger enterprises supplied laptops to their employees. How much did this practice change during the pandemic?
Towns: For most companies, it is mandatory to use company-approved computers for security reasons. As companies continue to prioritize data security in mixed environments, you are seeing more “2-step” authentication processes to access VPN/company data.
TWICE: Generally speaking, what are the opportunities for this gradual return-to-office for office technology product sellers?
Towns: The main opportunities we see to enhance the return-to-office experience for office technology product vendors, consumer tech retailers and businesses are PC and monitor upgrades and PC accessories – docking stations, webcams, mice and keyboards. For example, most employees will need to have some kind of bag or sleeve for their business laptop as they move between the home office and the workspace.
TWICE: Everyone is talking about this hybrid home office as the “new normal.” But are we just experiencing a post-pandemic transition as we eventually return to “old normal” full-time office attendance, or is the mixed virtual-physical work situation a permanent “new normal”?
Towns: The mixed WFH/office environment is here to stay, especially as recent college graduates enter the workplace as expected. Many workers across the globe have grown accustomed to virtual work environments over the last two years and have proven this way of working can still be productive.
About New Age Electronics
New Age Electronics, a division of SYNNEX Corporation (NYSE: SNX), is a sales and supply chain solutions innovator that provides consumer technology (CT) manufacturers with a broad offering of logistics, distribution and remanufactured services. Extensive experience in the CT industry and a customer-centric approach has made New Age Electronics the provider of choice. New Age Electronics distinguishes itself with efficient operations and relentless focus on customer satisfaction. Founded in 1988, New Age Electronics is headquartered in Carson, California.
For more information about New Age Electronics, call (310) 549-0000, toll-free (888) 234-0300 or visit the company’s website at https://www.synnexcorp.com/newageelectronics/.