In this installment of our 2021 Networking Trends blog series, we discuss Trend #2 – enabling safe return to on-premises workspaces.

Just like many other migrants have attested to, I have experienced the bifurcated longing for two distinctly different cultures, diets, smells, and vistas. Whether moving from one continent to another or one state to another – whenever you are in one – you will likely experience a strong yearning for the other.

Likewise, after 8 months of working from home, I now have a similar longing for my other home – the office. After 20 wonderful years of going to our San Jose campus day in and day out, I long for the water cooler chats, the physical meetings, and the general energy and buzz. However, once we do get the green light to return to the office, I will undoubtedly miss my newly adopted home office.


The path to a hybrid workplace

I believe that our post-pandemic work future will be one in which many organizations condone and even encourage the duality of working from the office AND from home.

Many organizations that once held more traditional ‘always be present on-campus’ policies will likely be updating those, adjusting to a hybrid workplace.

However, the office environment will undergo permanent changes. It’s going to take an extraordinary amount of preparation and planning, working across our IT, human resources, facilities, and environmental health and safety teams, as well as understanding local health conditions across all of our geographies. The last thing anyone wants is to bring our employees back only to put them in harm’s way. The network will be vital to making this transition.

Have you considered how your network can enable this transition? See below how networking teams are preparing for a safe return to the workplace.

Figure 1. Safe return to the workplace survey
Figure 1. Safe return to the workplace survey

Source: 2021 Global Networking Trends Report: Business Resilience Special Edition.


How your network can help give peace of mind to you and your employees, partners, and customers

One of the networking technologies you can take advantage of is location-based analytics to help you monitor how your employees are social distancing while in the office. This technology uses existing capabilities in Wi-Fi access points to effectively turn the network into a sensor. It provides you with intelligent insights on density and proximity, so you can ensure employees aren’t gathering in crowds and that they’re following your social distancing guidelines.

At Cisco, part of our plan includes bringing back employees in increments based on regional conditions so that we can test the process and then continuously improve it as we gain a better understanding of employee behavior in this new environment. Change management and employee communications will of course play a critical role in helping us elevate these new safety protocols.

“We’ll bring back employees in waves, starting with the 20% to 30% of the employees whose jobs require them to be in the office, like engineers with hands-on responsibilities for development, testing, and operations.” – Jon Heaton, Network Architect, Cisco IT

Reducing the safety distractions while maximizing productivity

We know we can’t guarantee there won’t be an outbreak on our campuses, but our expectation is that we can rapidly alert our employees if building density is getting too high. If a case is reported, we’ll be able to quickly respond to help employees know if they were exposed, help them stay clear of the area(s), and we can quarantine workspaces until sanitizing protocols are completed.

It’s all about reducing the distractions and worry associated with safety, and letting our employees get back to collaborating and being productive as they deliver value to our customers and stakeholders. Explore our secure network solutions for a trusted workplace.

Want to learn more about other ways the network enables your organization to be more resilient? Get your complimentary copy of our 2021 Global Networking Trends Report:  Business Resilience Special Edition.


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Prashanth Shenoy

Vice President of Marketing

Enterprise Networking and Mobility