With the advent of COVID-19, organizations are adopting new measures to support their expanding remote workforce. Work from home, which hasn’t traditionally been embraced by most employers, has boosted employee productivity as high as 47% in one study. This introduces a new challenge to the workplace: providing seamless IT support to remote employees with zero physical contact.

To ensure a seamless and consistent experience, organizations need to swiftly leverage alternate support channels and innovations while ensuring fast adoption among end users. This is compelling organizations to make the following types of technology investments to ensure any place can be a great workplace:

  1. Contactless delivery of workplace devices

    Organizations will need to adopt contactless ways of providing technical support in scenarios that previously required an in-person technician visit. Equipment makers now offer ready-to-work devices that provide many automated setup features and come installed with applications that end users require, eliminating the need for manual configuration after shipment. 

    In the future, we’ll see desktops and laptops shipped to conveniently located hubs, where smart all-terrain robots will deliver the machines to the user’s doorstep. Once delivery is complete, the robots will self-disinfect and return to the autonomous delivery vehicle. The movement of these robots will be tracked online using GPS technology, and with ITSM integration, end users will also be able to track shipments, from service request through delivery.

    We will also witness innovations in packaging technology, such as particle-repellent cartons used for desktops and laptops, complete with disinfectant wipes for further cleaning.

  1. Intuitive computing

    Businesses will make significant investments in deploying speech-to-text software to eliminate the need for input devices like keyboards and mice. Gesture-controlled devices will also make greater inroads. Demand will soar for laptops powered by technologies that provide depth perception and motion-tracking capabilities to embedded cameras, such as Intel® RealSense™. Because this technology enables recognition of hand gestures and facial features, all future interactions with laptops or desktops will be through motion- and voice-driven commands. This will transform how users work, especially in industries like healthcare and hospitality, in which shift workers share devices.

  1. Diminishing print and scan services

    With a drastic reduction in on-site events, demand for paper-based printing has plummeted. Coupled with a significant rise in virtual collaboration, organizations are setting up digital workflows, with supporting documents being uploaded as images captured with mobile phones. Not only does this reduce paper consumption, but it also vastly reduces dependence on printers and scanners, thereby reducing the cost of both consumables and technicians deployed for printer support.

    While there may be a continued need for paper in the workplace due to regulatory or statutory requirements, cloud-based print services will increasingly replace on-site printers as organizations leverage these services to reduce the overall cost of ownership.

  1. Augmented/virtual reality-based support

    According to IDC, the worldwide spend on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices is expected to grow by more than 80% between 2020 and 2024. These systems can help users obtain remote assistance from the central IT support desk, leveraging a supporting mobile app.

    Through an AR-VR solution, remote support technicians can provide remote assistance instructions and annotations that appear on the user’s smartphone. This remote visual guidance method can support instant multi-language translation and work on multiple device types.

  1. Ensuring device security

    With remote work, it’s paramount to secure the devices used to access workplace resources. With half of U.S. workers working from home, cybercrime is spiking as criminals target home devices, which may have lower security controls than company-provided technology. Businesses need to renew their efforts to educate users on avoiding suspicious emails and frequently updating their security software.

    Home users are also likely to access corporate networks from potentially unsafe WiFi connections; hence, it’s critical to establish adequate security controls to protect sensitive corporate data. Organizations also need to ensure all their laptops and desktops are updated with the latest security patches, updates and policies. Many will turn to zero-trust-security-enabled endpoint management solutions that ensure compliance and risks are considered in real-time prior to granting access to applications and data.

    To ensure a better user experience, businesses will also provide secure access to business applications and network resources instantly through catalog-based self-service with multi-factor authentication via smartphones.

A New Toolkit for the Workplace

The contactless workplace is not limited to innovations in IT computing devices and support methodologies. In the aftermath of COVID-19, office spaces will be redesigned to safely accommodate a workforce that is returning to a physical workplace. Multiple levels of screening – including taking workers’ temperatures – will be the norm. Wearables enabled by the Internet of Things will become part of the standard tool kit to monitor employee health and physical distances in real-time.

With a hybrid model evolving – blending office-based workers with work-from-home employees – organizations must balance technology solutions and best practices so that their employees and customers see a consistent and stable user experience, without compromising prescribed safety measures.  

Harish Acharya, Associate Director, Digital Workplace Services Practice at Cognizant, contributed to this blog.

Visit our COVID-19 resources page for additional insights and updates.

Amresh Singh

Amresh Singh

Amresh Singh is a leader for the global Digital Workplace Services practice in Cognizant Infrastructure Services. He has more than 18 years of experience working... Read more