Returning to the Office: How to Help Employees Concentrate


Tech Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for IT pros

Thursday, June 17, 2021

IT infrastructure is facing a critical rethink as businesses grapple with a scattered workforce. How can technology help employees regain focus?

Article 5 Minutes
Returning to the Office: How to Help Employees Concentrate

It’s important to remember that there will be mixed feelings within an office when returning to work. For employees who felt isolated during the pandemic it will feel exciting, but it’s likely to be anxiety-inducing for those who readily took up remote work due to health concerns.

Autonomy has become more critical than ever for employees. A sense of control allows them to feel secure, further motivating them to increase focus and productivity. This is why many workplaces have implemented hybrid and flexible working arrangements to cater to this new craving for independence that staff got a taste for after a year of working solely remotely.

When implementing this flexible schedule, it’s essential to keep communication lines open and gauge your employee's stance on various issues to remain productive. Discovering these preferences and concerns early on can help you encourage teams back into the office gently rather than through force. After the past year, it’s nearly impossible to use the excuse that your organization is just not set up for remote work to any degree.

The role of technology in returning to work

IT faces many challenges from this shift, such as:

  • Extended desk hours
  • An ever-increasing need for remote support and management tools
  • A desire for work-specific user training
  • All software has to be cloud-enabled for optimum functionality
  • Increased security parameters for out-of-office work
  • Multifaceted collaboration and scheduling tools being more crucial than ever
  • Equipment must be provided to home-based workers and maintained from a distance
  • Modernization of building technologies to reduce and avoid heavy touch surfaces
  • More open communication with HR departments to enable monitoring of staff

All work processes now need to evolve. Becoming digital and available via an internet connection is vital, as employees are becoming less location-dependent. Doing so means that workers must have access to the appropriate bandwidth and working environments to remain engaged and productive. The user experience that employees face must be seamless for business progression to take place. Employees must understand and integrate with IT tools, rather than just using them as a secondary thought.

Many people will decide to work from home but not all. Some employees will still be required on-site, or they may not be able to work from home due to external factors such as a lack of space or weak internet access.

Another consideration to be made is the dissolving of the traditional workday hours. New trends such as time-blocking and time-slicing will become common among digital workers, dividing the entire day from when they awake to when they go to bed into scheduled slices of personal, family and work. This isn’t the typical work-life balance of 5 days on two days off, but it seems to be working for large workforce percentages and allows them to maintain focus and concentration for a more extensive portion of time. Work policies and technology systems need to support this if they wish to get the most out of their employees.

Work teams and IT infrastructure will need to enable this model and set core hours when everyone is available with flexibility around the edges. Hour targets can be met and tracked via automatic or manual task logging software.

Much of the physical office infrastructure must be updated within office facilities to protect employee health until the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Doing so will reduce anxiety and therefore increase concentration. Touchpoints such as door handles, elevator buttons and lights have become potential virus transmitters and will need to be replaced by touchless methods wherever possible. This will require cooperation from IT, as it may need integration with other technology, such as putting lights on timers or utilizing footfall sensors.

How IT can help employees concentrate

IT is at the core of everything within an office, reaching every department. This role shouldn’t be taken lightly and must have as much funding poured into it as reasonably required. Increasing employee focus in the aftershock of COVID-19 is a multifaceted task and will require massive adaptation across the company.

The most prominent upgrades to improve employee concentration will occur in the following locations:

  • Networking and email apps must be resilient and constant maintenance must occur to prevent issues as workload increases.
  • Financial and human resources information systems must be uploaded to the cloud without disruption to enable seamless access.
  • Up to date data analytics and sales tools must be available from all locations, and the information within them must be effortlessly updated wherever possible.
  • Employees have a craving for mobile apps. This could be something as simple as a cloud calendar or as complex as a full remote desktop service from their phone. Find the limits of your team and work with them.

IT departments often don’t fully understand the ins and outs of their colleague's work and usually relying on cookie-cutter training. This is no longer enough. With an ever-growing reliance on technology, mobile or otherwise, and software becoming more specific to the task at hand, troubleshooting training must become something that all employees participate in. This will prevent too much strain on IT managers and allow a greater rate of workflow, empowering employees to gain more technical knowledge; in turn, IT departments can become more specialized.

The role IT plays in employee concentration should be celebrated, not feared. Utilizing your IT infrastructure to maximize this new and emerging hybrid work environment will reward employees with a needed sense of autonomy and, in turn, reward the business with increased work rates.

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