How to help your team feel comfortable returning to the office

How the right technology can help

How to help your team feel comfortable returning to the office

Specialised Print Providers

Research has found that reducing anxiety or fear amongst employees is the second largest challenge faced by senior executive and HR specialists

Many businesses across the EMEA region are reopening offices that were closed for much of the pandemic, some for over a year. For many people, reuniting with colleagues after a long period away will be an exciting prospect, while business owners and managers will be eager to return to collaborative workspaces and make the most of on-site technology and facilities. However, others may have misgivings. There is a keener awareness of hygiene and infection risks in the wake of the pandemic and uncertainty about the future.

Research has found that reducing anxiety or fear amongst employees is the second largest challenge faced by senior executive and HR specialists (29%), after implementing health and safety practices (36%)1. It’s therefore vital that businesses ensure staff can have complete peace of mind in their working lives – that they’ll be able to work together productively, safely and securely. Whether people return to company offices full-time or undertake hybrid working, this may require redesigning office spaces and working processes. The right solutions, however, make this achievable.

The small touches for big peace of mind

Sometimes it’s the little things that can spark larger worries, for instance door handles, light switches and lift buttons – common touchpoints in a typical office that can spread viruses and bacteria. Fortunately, solutions like contactless entry systems and automated lights may be relatively straightforward to implement. Similarly, there is anxiety about commuting via public transport – a poll found 70% of Londoners do not feel comfortable with the idea2, a worry reflected in part by a boom in cycling in countries including Germany3 – which could be assuaged by introducing more bike storage.

But it’s also important not to overlook other contact points in the office, such as shared facilities like tea and coffee machines, and printers and scanners. Staff who physically interact with these devices every day may be wary of touching them, and more regular or thorough cleaning could cause damage to the technology. A simple solution may be antimicrobial films and coatings. When applied to common touchpoints, they can help stop viruses and bacteria reproducing, helping to give staff confidence that buttons, handles and touchscreens are hygienic to touch. The new antimicrobial film available from Canon contain silver ions, distributed evenly throughout the film, that prevent the multiplication of bacteria and viruses. It works all day every day, for up to five years – longer than the average lifespan of an office printer.

A number of businesses are considering making more significant changes to their offices. Some are seeking to downsize floorspace, alter office layouts, establish small satellite offices, devote more space to co-working spaces or introduce hot-desking policies. But whatever adaptations are made, staff need to feel confident that desks and equipment are safe to use.

Canon is the right partner to support you in this transition

Solutions for safety and security

At the same time, remote management of technology helps minimise physical contact with shared touchpoints. The Canon PRINT Business app, for example, enables users to access and operate printers from anywhere, reducing contact with shared devices. The app also supports document processing and management, helping to improve productivity and making collaboration easier wherever staff are located.

In an increasingly touchless workspace, with devices operating across the internet, it’s also vital to consider security. Users need to be able to share, store, capture and print documents and information securely, and may be wary of the risks of sending sensitive information across a wireless connection. Canon solutions use end-to-end encryption to keep information safe in transit, as well as measures like password protection to make sure printouts aren’t taken away by the wrong people. Canon’s Digital Transformation Services can help, for example to reduce the amount of paper that is handled or passed around the office by introducing digital mailroom solutions that distribute incoming documents electronically.

Security concerns extend to people working from home, who have been a prime target for cybercriminals: 85% of business leaders said they experienced more cyberattacks in the first two months of the pandemic than before it4. These solutions from Canon are designed to protect data and information whether it is printed or shared on the cloud. Indeed, the future of work is hybrid. Even before the pandemic, people were increasingly operating from different locations on different days – the company office, at home or at a co-working space – and this more flexible working style is expected to be commonplace.

Some people, both staff and their employers, may be concerned about switching between working environments and the impact it could have on productivity. It’s important to make sure that the transition from remote to physical workspace is seamless, that people can still collaborate easily with colleagues who aren’t in the same location, and are confident they have everything they need wherever they are. Canon uniFLOW and uniFLOW Online have been developed to support seamless information and document workflows. These software solutions can also be integrated with other safety and security features, like contactless ID cards for entering buildings, to help make employee experiences safe, comfortable and productive.

Concerns over hygiene and security are nothing new, and Canon has worked for many years to ensure our technology can be used safely and easily in multiple scenarios. Post-pandemic they are priorities, with uncertainty only adding to anxieties, but Canon can support the transition towards a more confident future.

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