How the Pandemic Accelerated Office Tech Adoption
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The use of technology at work has been on the rise for some years now. However, during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, use quickly transformed into reliance. Without the support of digital tools, devices, and software, business continuity simply would not have been possible. 

In fact, the uptake in digital practices accelerated by three years, globally between December 2019, when virus cases first began to be reported in large numbers, and July 2020, the peak of the pandemic in many countries. 

All industries, from education to retail and hospitality needed technology to continue operating with minimal disruption. For example, teachers and students used their new devices to deliver and attend online lessons, while restaurants became takeaway outlets, using their portable gadgets to accept, process and manage orders. 

There has been a surge in the use of digital tools for communication and project management. For instance, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack have all seen increases in downloads and sign-ups, as they become essential for hosting meetings and keeping teams connected while working remotely. 

Aside from these more essential technology adoptions, there have also been some more innovative uses, particularly in the office. There is no doubt that both business needs and employee expectations have changed over the course of the pandemic, but it appears these new technologies may be providing a solution.

Air filtration

Although employees may be returning to the office, even for only a few days a week or month, the risk of the current virus and the possibility of another in the future, are common concerns. Employers and office space providers need to prioritise technologies that protect teams when working from the premises. 

Air filtration systems are providing an effective way to minimise these concerns by ensuring the air inside the building is safe and clean. Along with protecting the physical health of those in the office, knowing there is an advanced system in place and in use, can also provide peace of mind, helping improve the overall well-being of the workforce.

UV light cleaners

Similarly, ramped up cleaning procedures in the office can also help provide reassurance to returning employees. Beyond sanitisation stations and disinfectant wipes though, UV light technologies have been effectively proven to reduce the number of live bacteria on surfaces, offering an advanced cleaning method that will protect employees.

Voice activation

While it is important for surfaces to be cleaned, what's better is a solution that eliminates the need for contact with a surface altogether. Fortunately, technology can provide an answer to this. 

Voice-activated solutions have steadily become prominent in our daily lives, with devices and services such as Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa and more, now in common use. Workplaces can offer similar solutions with voice-activated appliances in communal or shared areas, which will provide a touch-free experience and a lessened risk to health.

Cyber-security

Undoubtedly, the pandemic has created a shift in perceptions of where we work. As a result, more and more employees are opting to work remotely from home or on the go, creating some significant security challenges for employers. Businesses need to ensure that effective data protection and online security procedures are in place in the office, and on employees' remote devices to avoid third-party breaches.

Sustainable solutions

Technology and digital tools can also help companies become more sustainable, which is important for attracting and retaining employees and customers in the current climate. Essentially, the pandemic has caused many to rethink their attitudes towards the planet, largely due to the reduction in consumption and travel, which has influenced a more sustainable life moving forward. 

As companies have been forced to conduct business online for almost two years now, they have inevitably been exposed to a more sustainable solution for their day to day runnings. For example, with online video call meetings now commonplace, there will be a reduced need to travel for face to face meetings in the future, consequently, reducing a company's carbon footprint. 

Contracts, invoices, order forms and other important documents have also been taken online in order for remote business to take place, and to avoid the inadvertent delays in the postal service due to the pandemic. If these continue, there is also an opportunity for businesses to go paperless, which is another sustainable initiative. 

While many of these technologies combat the current concerns related to the pandemic, some will continue as its risk lessens, as employee and employer attitudes have changed permanently. For example, enhanced cleaning procedures will be expected in order to minimise the possibility of future health risks. 

The convenience and efficiency of digital tools, not to mention their role in helping businesses become more sustainable will create strong cases for their retention post-pandemic, too. With working from home likely to be the 'new normal', these tools will be vital in ensuring teams remain connected and productive.

However, these technologies will require large investment by companies, particularly if they are seeking the most effective, efficient and secure solutions. Fortunately, the quick uptake in these advancements by rental office providers enables businesses of any size to rent spaces designed for the workforce of the future. With many available on a flexible basis too, company's can keep costs low and respond quickly to changing restrictions and any future challenges.

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