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Much of the dust has settled on the patchwork processes that organizations put in place to manage remote teams throughout the global pandemic. And while some or most of these processes may have been set up with the intention of being temporary ("...just two weeks, then we'll all be back in the office!"), the reality is we've had to rely on them for quite a bit longer.
Did any of us think we were going to be in these imperfect hybrid-work scenarios for more than two years? Probably not.
Even so, it's likely this wasn't the start of quick-fixes. Workplace issues-like cluttered and disorganized offices, unsecured information, and inconsistent tech solutions-had gone unaddressed long before March 2020. What the pandemic has done is shine a spotlight on areas that aren't working and have been deprioritized for too long.
We're always going to have to stay flexible and adapt to whatever change comes our way. That's why we need to create workplace operations that allow us to stay resilient no matter what the future may bring. If your team can do that, then you can elevate the power of your workspace.
To ensure business continuity, especially when pausing to assess your workplace processes and operations, here are six questions I'd recommend asking:
Ideally, everything from workflow processes to technologies implemented should be vetted for long-term success. It shouldn't be approached with a "this will do for now" mentality.
To support the business long-term, it's vital to question the impact of every decision and not make impulsive choices to solve an immediate need. This is your chance to pause and get things right, and to evaluate any past decisions that may have been made in the moment but do not stand up for the long-term.
Ultimately, planning for the long-term is a financial decision. If something's not thoroughly vetted, it could be costly to get something new implemented in its place. Now is the time for your organization to pause, examine operations closely, and reassess the workplace decisions it has made over the past two years.
Most organizations have annual, bi-annual, or quarterly evaluations of overall programs. But what about at the granular level for the key decisions facilitating those? This could be something as simple as looking at why a particular process was put in place, if it's working well, and if it's working as intended.
Now may be the time for a more rigorous system of checks and balances to better measure the impact of decisions. This serves to help ensure your organization is flexible enough for new business opportunities, adapting to new customer relationships, and meeting the changing needs of current customers.
Technology is always evolving, but the events of the past few years have accelerated advancements in new offerings. With many people working in remote settings, technology had to keep up. As such, there may be better options for tech that supports and elevates your overall workplace operations.
Now is the time to evaluate your technology to see if newly launched offerings better support what your team is trying to accomplish. In that evaluation effort, here's what I'd ask:
Why was a particular technology selected?
Does that technology still work well for your organization?
Is that technology matching up to its intended purpose?
We're doing things differently, so technology needs to accommodate how we've evolved. If you don't have good answers for these questions, you may want to see what else is out there to help enhance your workplace.
Having the appropriate technology in place to support your workplace decisions is a step in the right direction. However, it's only good until something bad happens.
Risks to organizations' data are so vital that I moderated my 2022 Corenet Global Summit panel on the topic. As part of the Strategies for Avoiding Information Security Risks During Workplace Transformation panel, I was able to dig into information security risks that come with real estate activities alongside Wells Fargo's Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Properties and CBRE's Senior Managing Director of Business Transformation and Move Management. We discussed partnering strategies to avoid data breaches and loss during larger workplace events.
Nobody thinks they need a data management plan until a crisis occurs. Employees are then left scrambling to protect important and sometimes sensitive assets. If information is compromised, it could have devastating impacts on the organization.
So if you have not already done so, set up steps to regularly back up current and new information.
Depending on your industry, there may be certain regulations and policies that need to be factored into your decisions. To help meet any stringent requirements, it's critical to include vital stakeholders in the conversation.
With their expertise, you can help to ensure processes, technology, and people are well aligned. It allows for both consistency in workplace operations and adds a layer of visibility to business decisions. And, because you've included multiple viewpoints and expertise, it elevates the power of what your organization can accomplish.
Real estate professionals are knowledgeable about available physical space. Records and information management (RIM) along with data risk teams have deep insights into the inner workings of the organization. So, having these two groups in-sync is important.
When real estate and RIM professionals aren't aligned, challenges can ensue. At any time, RIM teams could get blindsided with an influx of records being moved to offsite storage or to a new office location. But if given enough warning, they can plan to consolidate records to reduce the amount of file rooms or cabinets needed. Thus, workspace is made available for higher value use.
With greater real estate and RIM coordination comes more awareness of vulnerabilities to information security, cyber security, and risk management, regardless of your industry. It also helps your organization remain malleable to any workplace change as needed.
It's not back to business as usual. It's forward to business as it could be. So let's rip off the patchwork bandages put in place over the last few years and get to work.
For a Clean Start to jumpstart your year, learn more about our workplace transformation solutions.
Aurora Cammarata is a Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Advisor at Iron Mountain. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.