Is Your Network Ready for Your Workplace Reopening? 7 Factors to Consider
It’s happening! The workplaces we left behind last spring are poised to reopen, or at least things are trending in that direction. However, before we can undertake any return to the workplace initiatives, we must first acknowledge that a lot has changed over the past year. Steps must be taken to ensure our old workplaces are ready for the challenges presented by our new work lives.
One area in particular that is worthy of a long look by IT pros is the corporate network. Often viewed as the backbone of the modern enterprise, these technologies may have gathered dust as teams moved offsite. That’s something that will need to change as reopening looms.
Here are seven questions that can help determine if a network is ready for the next chapter in its organization’s history:
- What does reopening even mean to us? Some organizations plan to welcome their full workforce back onsite. For others, reopening will not be so neat, with some employees coming back, some staying at home and others working while on the go. Demand on the network will vary greatly depending on the form reopening takes. Organizations will need to define their own strategies, and how they will look in the short and long terms, in order to make the necessary structural adjustments to their network.
- Are any changes coming to my physical workspace? Dovetailing with that first question, there may not be a need for physical workspaces to look the same as they did pre-pandemic. Organizations seeking to downsize their square footage will likely be able to execute similar corrections to their networking infrastructure, in terms of things like switch size, etc. Workforces, workspaces and organizational needs are all evolving. Network infrastructure must be prepared to do the same.
- Will I still need a VPN? There was a time when working from home basically required logging in to a VPN. For some, it was the only way to securely access essential files back when work from home was still considered a perk and not an imperative. Even if work from home goes back to being the exception and not the rule, the rise and proliferation of solutions such as Microsoft Teams may still lead some organizations to rethink their reliance on VPN. Obviously, a good deal of weight must be given to an organization’s specific use case and regulatory obligations. Still, there are those for whom VPNs may no longer be mission critical.
- How have my applications evolved? The applications employees depend on as part of their workdays have done anything but stand still over the last year. Instead, they’ve added a galaxy of new features and capabilities to better support users. Networks that were architected with past iterations in mind may be in for a rude awakening when these evolved apps come back on site. Organizations will need to properly gauge the bandwidth needs of their core applications, how that differs from what they built their environment to handle, and what must be done to close that gap.
- What will my wireless/wired needs be going forward? Whatever in-person connectivity path an organization chooses, it will likely need some fine-tuning after a year in mothballs. Wired/wireless technology will need to be scaled to address the state of the workforce going forward. Additionally, solutions will probably need to be updated or patched to ensure both a high level of performance and security. It’s understandable if a backlog of updates formed during the pandemic as admins focused on more pressing tasks. All of this will need to be handled prior to bringing anyone back onsite.
- What else needs to be patched and/or updated? Following on the question above, what other parts of the network may be in need of maintenance or security enhancements? This includes, switches, routers, access points, etc. All of these devices have seen little usage, if any at all, and, as such, have been out of IT’s eye for months at a time. They’ll need to be brought up to speed before they can truly begin supporting workers again.
- How much redundancy does my network really need? Internet service outages used to grind workdays to a halt. Employers would be faced with a choice: Send their people home or wait it out. Sending them home made sense, but it raised questions about productivity and security. Now that many employees have spent the last year-plus demonstrating their ability to be productive and safe while at home, the decision in the event of future outages would in theory seem much simpler. With that in mind, organizations might be able to get by with just enough redundancy to allow people to save their work before heading out. Every organization’s needs are unique, but for many, the doubts that once surrounded work from home are no more.
Next Steps: Plan for your organization’s return to the workplace
Shutting down workplaces everywhere last spring was a huge challenge. Reopening them some twelve months and change later will present its own obstacles to overcome, including with network bandwidth, cyber security and even public health. Arraya’s team can help you answer the above questions and more to properly plan for and execute your return to the workplace. Our goal is the same as yours: Keep people safe and productive and your data secure.
Whether you’ll be re-occupying your workplace, re-imagining it, or residing somewhere in between, Arraya can help. Our team of experts can work with you to design and deploy solutions built around best-of-breed technologies, preparing your organization to thrive in whatever normal comes next. Get started today by scheduling a free strategy session. Our team will work with yours to discuss your workplace plans and evaluate your environment to set you up for success.
Visit https://www.arrayasolutions.com/contact-us/ to connect with our team now.
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