Portland Internetworks held a virtual meeting, “Your Technology Toolkit for the Post-Pandemic Landscape,” discussing the prudent technology investments in the face of a changed work environment.

Many states are in at least the beginning stages of reopening, which begs the question: what will life look like from now on? When this all started a few months ago, it was a scramble to get everything together, to hurry home with a bag stuffed with headsets, extra monitors and laptops. With that all behind us, it’s time we look forward. This pandemic has forever changed our office environments and the professional landscape, so the question becomes: how are you going to adapt to these new circumstances?

More likely than not, we’ll be returning to a work environment that will accommodate a hybrid workforce. Some employees will be working in the office full time, others are at home full time, while others still will have a split schedule of working a few days in the office and a few days at home. It may be difficult to figure out how to keep everyone engaged at the same level because the people working from home will face more disadvantages versus their in-the-office counterparts. This confrontation necessitates a mindset shift, it’s time for us to find new ways of collaborating and communicating. What we need is a long term solution.

We’re at an interesting inflection point right now where what was deemed good enough a few months ago (read: the beginning of the pandemic) is no longer going to suffice. At the beginning of this time, everyone was understanding of the subpar video quality, of makeshift desk setups. However we’re now seeing that customers’ expectations are rising once again. We’re past the point of allowing things to be good enough, no longer going to accept levels that are acceptable. Doug offered up some advice regarding that transition: “As we now settle in and see that this is going to be a long-term thing, we’re purchasing higher quality gear as investments in the quality of our communication.”  Because customer purchasing decisions are going to be based off of the level of service your team provides, it’s important to be cognizant of how your team is collaborating and communicating with those customers. Those touches with customers will impact how they spend their money.

As Doug mentioned in our virtual meeting all about technology investments; “Most conversations I have around technology are couched in conversations of productivity and continuity.” When we’re talking about businesses changing up the lineup of their workforce, we’re looking at it in terms of permanent investments because it’s no longer a mad scramble to get employees’ home offices set up. What are the most impactful areas in which you can invest your money to improve employee productivity, given the hybrid workforce model? It may be a difficult pill to swallow but this is the time to start considering bigger investments for home office setups. Previously we were focusing on providing our employees at Portland Internetworks with ample monitors for their home rigs. We had previously made the switch to laptops instead of desktop computers, making the transition to working from home a little easier. It’s now clear that this is going to be the way it is for some time, and we’re pivoting. We’re thinking about what additional steps we need to step up our WFH game: higher quality headsets, webcams for those that are on calls all day, and we’ve even considered sending home people’s sit-stand desks. If your employees are working at less than 100% productivity while at home, then that upfront investment starts looking more and more palatable.

Six months ago, these things may not have been part of this year’s technology budget. What was a “nice to have” has now become a “need to have” in order to keep your team productive. Doug also likes to think about investments in terms of “airplane math,” or easy math for which you don’t need a calculator. Consider this: let’s say everyone on your workforce makes $60,000. If you could raise each employee’s productivity by 10% just by providing that person with adequate technology and ergonomic tools. Or, you could lower their productivity 10% just by having poor technology. That’s a profound cost impact. You’re essentially allowing a $500 per employee per month productivity hit. Multiply that by your entire workforce and that’s a significant loss.

How do we manage productivity challenges and leverage technology to make things easier and better for everyone? If we look at communication struggles through this lens, something as simple as a higher quality headset, that costs an additional $40 over the cheap set, then becomes worth it. So let’s start to remove the idea of good enough from our vocabularies, and start working towards the ideal of exemplary. It’s time to settle in to this new reality, and start adapting to the present environment. You may be purchasing technology, but you’re also investing in a higher yield from your team and higher quality in the work that your employees are able to produce from home.

To watch the entire meeting, click here.