What Association Tech Departments Should Know About Reopening Offices

CIOs will be trying to do more with less as they balance remote and onsite workers when offices start to reopen. Here’s what should be on tech leaders’ minds.

Over the past four months, associations have adjusted to a “new normal” in which many employees have been working remotely for the first time. And IT departments have adjusted, too, coming up with solutions for remote access and security on the fly.

Now, as some of those employees begin to come back and offices get revamped, new adjustments will be needed. Of course, you know you’ll have to keep everything clean, but there’s a lot more to it. A few considerations to keep in mind:

You’ll be doing more with less. You may need to accommodate a lot of furniture moves and the addition of new equipment in the coming months to account for COVID-19, but you may not be doing it with much of a budget. A recent Gartner IT spending forecast says that overall IT spending is expected to fall by 7.3 percent from last year, with expenditures on devices falling by 16.1 percent. If that describes your organization, you’ll probably need to explain to employees who expected a device upgrade this year that they’ll have to wait. Simply put, priorities have shifted.

The cloud is going to be more essential than ever. Before recently, you could get away with a server onsite. No longer; those who had to serve remote employees found themselves catching up to the cloud, fast. This need isn’t going to change anytime soon, even as some people return to the office. According to the Gartner forecast, spending on infrastructure as a service offering is expected to jump by 13.4 percent this year. And a recent study from CompTIA found that 65 percent of organizations will let more employees stay remote. Organizations that continue at least some remote work will continue to rely heavily on the cloud.

You’ll need to remain comfortable with uncertainty and scarce resources. As offices are reinvented and operations and business needs shift, IT teams will be expected to meet a variety of demands. “The uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID results in IT organizations having to rapidly respond to constantly changing priorities in a volatile business environment,” notes the business intelligence firm Optanix. “The economic implications mean IT organizations are forced to operate with shrinking budgets even as they struggle to mitigate the risks around the infrastructure that supports key business activities.”

You may need a new mindset. Recently, CompTIA reached out to members of its Industry Advisory Councils about what they’ve done to reopen their offices. Many said they’ve changed how they use office space, with some closing spaces and others renting out only what they need. Robert Senatore, a cochair of CompTIA’s IoT Advisory Council and a managing member of Data2Go Wireless, told the association that he’s been rethinking his assumptions. “I’ll admit, I’ve always been an ‘old school’ thinker. I wanted my employees in close proximity to me and to each other,” he said. “COVID-19 has taught me that doesn’t need to be the case.”

(Orbon Alija/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!