What Will Change When We’re Healthy Again?

Be careful of what you wish for. Employees have pushed to work at home, and employers – for the most part – resisted it. More remote working – and learning – will become the new norm as our coronavirus ends, and dynamics will change.

Our workplace and school dynamics are under scrutiny, for sure. People are adapting – at least for now – to the reality of not being able to gather and interact. Are they more productive? Our collective adrenalin is still pumping, and we’re all finding ways to make this new environment work. But what will happen as time goes on?

If working from home becomes more the norm, employers will add more tools to monitor the productivity of their remote workers. A lot of them are already available in the office, where the computer can be just like the boss sitting on a worker’s shoulder and recording every work-related and non-related movement. Will that kind of oversight extend to the home? Right now, an employee suddenly working at home can probably take a break to do some cooking or laundry, especially if they need to meet the needs of a family that’s suddenly at home all the time. What’s going to happen next?

My personal feeling is that everyone is going to miss the personal interaction of the office – and for kids, the interaction at school. There’s much to be gained from the social experience of collaborating in person – and it’s a huge part of a young person’s development. Yet, at the same time, I also think that working and learning through online channels will eventually become more stressful for people who have felt the need to be at the office or in the classroom.

We are social beings, and the people who need to mingle will want to return to an office. We see signs of it as we socially distance ourselves now. When we met some neighbors to walk together, we walked on one side of the street, and they walked on the other side. We came upon other neighbors who were having “picnics,” with their picnicking partners each on opposite sides of the street. Anyone with kids who go to school knows that the kids are trying to find more ways to connect and engage with their friends. Even homeschooled kids have needed social interaction.

The internet will continue to provide a way for people to gather, but it will always be a remote gathering. Will we be able to accept some of this as a new norm? I believe we’ll need to come to grips emotionally and politically with new ways of working, learning and socializing before we address the technology needed to make it happen. Once we decide on our direction, we’ll be able to add the required internet capacity and build the necessary security infrastructure.

Are there any insights into what may be our new way of life? If the observations of our neighborhood UPS driver are any indication, we’re setting up more home offices. He said his most-delivered items are boxes from Staples, monitors and office chairs. Once we have the means to work at home in place, the more likely we’ll all be to work at home exclusively or to a greater extent.

And what about our relationship with online shopping? We’ve taken Amazon and our entire package delivery system for granted; overnight delivery is the rule. Will next day become next week?

In the meantime, we can help you keep up with the technology you need now to meet your evolving everyday-living needs – and maybe help you map out what you might need going forward. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to talk about it.

The Worst is Yet to Come

What do factory closings and travel bans have in common? They’re going to affect the flow of technology to your business and home. Unfortunately, we have no idea yet on how bad the impact will be or how long it will take to recover.

Right now, the demand for products hasn’t caught up to the factory closings, but we can see the writing on the wall. The supplier that makes the cameras for Apple’s iPhones is still shut down, and Foxconn, the major supplier of phones has been shut for weeks. Even if the manufacturers have inventory to ship, the illness – or potential for illness – could shut down all forms of transportation into the United States. We just don’t know how long all of this will go on.

The travel bans are forcing the cancellations of technical conferences, and that will impact the flow of new hardware and software products and upgrades to you. The technology industry depends on conferences. It’s where they give developers the chance to look under the hood and ask questions. In turn, they start working on apps for new hardware or to fit the capabilities of new software – and all of that translates into new capabilities for your business, entertainment and quality of life.

We don’t know what the effects of the travel bans will be because we don’t know what was planned for development and rollout in the long-range future. But when you combine travel bans with factory shutdowns, it’s obvious that we’ll need to make do with what we have. And that may affect anybody who’s forced to work at home.

We haven’t begun to comprehend what could happen if offices are forced to close and employees have to work remotely. In our experience, we see a lot of laptop computers that never leave the office. In a shutdown, they might need to go home. While we can fix a lot of problems with computers remotely, we strongly recommend you test every computer. Employees can take them home and see how easily and quickly they can log in to your corporate network.

At the same time, you should make sure your network, servers and cloud connections are all functioning properly and that every piece of equipment and application is up to date on firmware and software. With your computing being distributed, it’s critical to do whatever you can to prevent problems before everyone and everything scatters to individual homes. You should also make sure everyone who’s logging in remotely understands they should not work from a public network, like from a Starbucks. You have no way to control the security of public networks, and you can bet hackers will be sipping lots of lattes as they search for ways to get some kind of information they can monetize.

If you have any questions at all about the operating conditions of your computers and other parts of your technology systems, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your needs. If you must close your office and have employees work at home, make sure they know how to contact us. Just as you’re being proactive with personal health, it’s time to be proactive with your technology’s health.