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Guiding a Safe Return to the Office


Businesswoman happy to be returning to office
Image: Михаил Решетников -
Organizations wishing to bring workers back to the office in some fashion must account for a number of requirements to ensure health and safety. These include:
  1. Conducting a daily worker health check before allowing individuals to enter an office
  2. Assigning workers to a physical work location that may include a desktop computer or workstation, phone, and headset
  3. Tracking movement throughout the day to enable contact tracing should a worker be diagnosed with COVID-19 after they have been inside of an office
  4. Making available necessary group workspaces such as conference rooms and huddle spaces
  5. Managing air quality and cleaning schedules
  6. Accounting for potential entry of guests, contractors, and facilities and support staff
In addition, IT and business leaders are increasingly looking to leverage touchless technologies such as voice control of applications and devices, and/or proximity tools that allow, for example, configuring and controlling a video conferencing system from a personal smartphone.
Already a number of software vendors are delivering tools to aid with some or all of these safe-work needs. Examples include:
In addition, IT service management (ITSM) tools are increasingly playing a role in managing in-office work. ITSM tools are designed to automate repetitive tasks, often through the use of bots. With ITSM, an organization can easily provision new worker accounts, make changes to existing workers, or remove those who have left the organization. ITSM tools are often integrated with unified communications management platforms to enable service and support individuals with easy access to worker configurations, as well as for allowing automated, self-service task management for activities such as moving offices or changing passwords. Leading vendors in the ITSM space include BMC, Broadcom, CA Technologies, Ivanti, and ServiceNow.
ITSM platforms offer the potential to be foundational technologies for safe-work management. For example, ServiceNow recently launched the Safe Workplace Suite providing IT and business leaders with a dashboard for assessing worker and office data, contact tracing, floorplan management, cleaning, and employee testing. Other ITSM providers have followed suit with, or likely will deliver, similar offerings designed to enable worker and workspace management critical for a safe return to work.
ITSM in the context of allowing workers to return to the office crosses many boundaries between IT, HR, facilities, and line-of-business (LOB) management. IT must take the lead in leveraging new or existing platforms, integrating ITSM into other applications, devices, and systems, and in providing visibility to others. HR, facilities, and LOB managers, together with health and legal experts, must define the specific requirements to enable a safe return to the office. Now is the time to assess the capabilities of your existing ITSM providers, or new options if you currently lack an ITSM solution.