Businesses will be turning to enterprise technology to smooth out the process of getting employees back to the workplace in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by Forrester Research.
Technology leaders say safety will be a top priority.
The information-technology research firm’s report lays out an early-stage road map for IT executives preparing to reopen corporate offices—a process that will vary by industry, but for most businesses will involve multiple stages.
Chief information officers and their teams will likely be in the first wave of employees returning to the job site, said Andrew Hewitt, a Forrester analyst serving infrastructure and operations professionals.
He said their initial task will be to develop a strategy for keeping employee tech tools—including PCs, mobile devices, monitors, keyboards and mice—germ-free without damaging them.
“IT teams will need to have a staging area that’s outside of the front door of the office where employees can bring their home technology in and sanitize it,” Mr. Hewitt said.
A second priority will be to convert remote-work capabilities—many set up on the fly as the coronavirus pandemic spread—into permanent features of the workplace, the report said.
The move will enable companies to maintain social distancing by limiting the number of on-site employees at any given time, according to Forrester researchers.
For IT departments, that means boosting network capabilities and remote-access login and security features for corporate systems and business applications, Mr. Hewitt said.
Bob Worrall, chief information officer of networking-products company Juniper Networks Inc., said even as some employees return to physical offices, others who stay home will need expanded access to corporate networks.
Many companies relied on short-term IT fixes to keep operating during the crisis, like setting up remote meetings on Zoom, Google Hangouts or other platforms. Mr. Worrall said more robust solutions will be needed as complex business processes are shifted online over the long term—including accounting, sales and human resources applications.