Tip #4 – The IT Crowd
How IT affects office seating arrangements
With many of us spending more time watching the “IT Crowd” than dealing with our IT department, it’s hard to know how IT really operates and what hurdles to expect.
It’s no secret IT will need to be involved and help you through transitions but the level of involvement will be influenced by your workplace environment (i.e. call center vs law firm vs tech company) and the size of your business.
Having worked through helpdesk to infrastructure engineer and managing an IT Team for the better part of a decade, here is some information that will unquestionably be useful when attempting to transition to a non-traditional work environment.
The early approach
IT departments are in a continuous state of change but really, they’re just like any other business unit.
Budget, procurement, licensing, processes and limited resources… what we tend to forget is that like any other stakeholders, they need to be informed of upcoming changes well ahead of time.
Think of this situation which we’ve all come across. You walk into a meeting room for an important meeting with a client but the tech isn’t working, projector unplugged, HDMI cables plugged into the wrong device. Someone was in there a few hours ago and left matters in a dysfunctional state. You run to IT who tend to panic and drop everything to ensure your meeting starts as soon as possible, unhinged.
Our expectation is to have our technology ready to be used at the drop of a hat but this is difficult with limited resources, processes and a dynamic workplace unless you account for every conceivable scenario.
The IT department is there to support clients, usually the business (staff) so let them know your plans and intentions by including them from the start.
IT and Flexible Environments
To the IT department, there is no distinction between ABW, hot desking, pair working focus groups, remote working or any other non-traditional work arrangements, these all demand the same result…
“Work from anywhere” – IT Teams
This calls on a wide range of tools, applications, connectivity, networking, the list goes on. Don’t re-invent the wheel by falling into new laptops, docking stations or special WiFi gear.
To minimize dependence on IT for the move or to simply begin testing a sample of staff in a flexi-environment, we need to focus on the ability to use any machine or use our own machine from anywhere.
In both situations, it all boils down to available software.
“But we don’t have Microsoft Office installed on those computers!”
The concept is simple.
Know which existing pieces of technology will allow you to begin an immediate transition to flexible working and you guarantee a smooth transition!
IT have to keep track of software licensing, where they’re distributed and installation numbers. It’s likely they already have your answer, so what do you ask them for?
Let us help you with 3 simple and practical questions for IT:
- Do we have any universal pieces of software like microsoft excel or chrome installed on all our machines?
(known to IT as the Standard Operating Environment)
- Are you aware of any teams that need only this software to do their work? Teams like customer service, legal or finance?
- Any reasons why these teams would be unable to hot desk?
(no wifi or network access in the proposed area etc)
As per Tip #2 Finding your solution, identify common teams such as contractors, customer support, communications, sales or legal staff as these teams/departments have a tendency to use very similar software suites.
This verification from IT will solidify, simplify and prepare you for implementing and testing your solution.
Your very own business case
One of our most common discussions and feedback is the struggle to build a business case to help fund the transition (if needed). Here’s the best business case we’ve identified but you can certainly get in touch with us to discuss and identify other unique scenarios.
You will find the most frequent scenarios is when a handful of staff are missing a critical piece of software. Perhaps a contractor or a temp staff member, all the more reason to transition to a flexi environment.
Purchasing Microsoft Office for the 3 people desperately needing it installed is a much more affordable solution than trying to source work space when the average desk in the CBD can cost in excess of $10,000p.a.
If all else fails, contractors or temps can start using opensource or free app alternatives (i.e. Google Apps) to assist.
IT & cool, innovative tech
It’s a cool new tool!
Most IT Departments, can’t wait to get their hands on new tools (and gadgets), there’s no doubt IT teams love their tech.
So inviting them to the simple.space solution will give them visibility on your plans and a sense of involvement.
It can also assist in future audits, finding the “where from” and “where to” when moving staff equipment (this is usually a task for helpdesk) and help with transitions when it’s time to move users around the office whilst providing a more connected workplace.
Come back to see our final article in our 5 Tips on cost effective Activity Based Working and Flex-Desking solutions, when we highlight the final steps and scaling up.
By now, you should have a solution in mind (possibly hot desking to start with), some staff (or team) to transition, discussed with relevant stakeholders (IT and the staff in question for the test case) and you’re ready to implement the changes and review.
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