Things changed virtually overnight back in early 2020.  

The pandemic began to spread throughout the world, and global organizations were immediately confronted with a monumental shift to remote working. Today, we stand at the precipice of another unprecedented task—managing risk as we navigate our way through the post-pandemic return to the workplace 

At Cisco, we’ve identified three significant challenges our customers face. 

First, many employees—roughly 84%want or need to return to the office as soon as possible. Some want better access to office technology. Others just need to escape the distractions of working from home. Managing a job, home schooling, barking dogs, and everything else is a pretty tall order. Then there’s one final group who simply miss their colleagues. In truth, however, most workers will admit they prefer a balance between remote and office-based workBut one pressing question remains. Iyour office ready for employees to return, even on a part-time basis? 

The second challenge is that it’s hard to balance speed and cost in a return-to-office strategy. I think we can all agree that safety comes first. But what then? Speed…or expense? There is a great deal of pressure, from business leaders, eager customers, and impatient employees, to get back to work quickly. But doing that doesn’t come cheap, and limitless budgets are far and few between. Plus, the structural and technology investments you can make to your office vary wildly in both cost and efficacy. Businesses will need to make some very calculated decisions. 

Finally, the consequences of getting it wrong are costly. This probably goes without mentioning, but if you implement a poor strategy, you could pay for it. In more ways than one. An office outbreak. An immobilized workforce. The cost of unused office space. And worst of all, a complete loss of trust among employees in your ability to manage a safe return to work. In fact, 73% of employees fear that going back to work could risk their health and safety.  

The good news issome companies have already figured out how to create a “trusted workplace.” And this may surprise you, but they’ve done it with nothing more than small enhancements to their existing technology infrastructure. 

Intelligent software can now extract data from your existing and incremental technology investments to deliver insights that will ensure your that workplace is safeThe American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is a perfect example. With Cisco’s help, they converted their 43-year-old headquarters into a safe environment. But they went even further, creating a workplace that will ultimately be ready for whatever the future brings next. 

How is this possible? Together with ASHRAE, we looked at technologies currently in their building that could determine how people get work done, what spaces they use, their movement patterns, and most important, who they came into contact with along the wayThen we did the same thing with the building systems—occupancy sensors, lighting, and so on. All this data from APIs was readily available, so, we were able to use it for real-time space utilization, social distancing enforcement, and office occupancy analytics. We could also apply the data to improve room environment control, visitor management, contact tracing, and so much more. 

We’re quickly discovering that most companies have much of what they need currently in place. By layering on the right software, we can extract the very insights necessary to make their workplaces safe, and to make them trusted. 

We all know, our workspaces are constantly changing. It’s crucial that you work with a partner who can rethink and redesign your workplace and workforce for the modern, hybrid work experiences of today, tomorrow, and the future. It’s also essential to find a partner who can help you accomplish your ongoing office transformation with modest investment and proven success. Most important, you need a partner who can help you build employee trust in the spaces where they work. 

In short, employees want to return to the office. But the consequences of getting your return-to-office strategy wrong are costly. By creating a trusted workplace, you can mitigate these risks. You can also make your business more agile and more prepared for the future of work and smart buildings. All of this, however, will require the right partner. That partner is Cisco. We can help you reimagine your workplace to support both secure remote working and a safe return to the office that your employees consider a trusted workplace.   

To learn more about Cisco, our solutions, and the many ways in which we help our customers: 




Jeremy Witikko

Practice Advisor

Retail & Hospitality