Technology for the new workplace
When the COVID-19 lockdown was mandated, had no choice but to pivot to remote working almost overnight. Aside from the obvious IT challenges, it was the support functions that posed the greatest operational challenges. Document management was one such area; firms were faced with unprocessed incoming mail, with no central print room staff on-site, and remote workers were sending mail themselves if they could.
A survey1 conducted during lockdown indicated that 40% of businesses are planning investment in remote and in-office resources to mitigate risk during a second wave or future crisis, as well as increase overall efficiencies within the business.
Lockdown has also shown a marked increase in phishing scams that have used COVID-19 as a lure, and it has worked. Ransomware attacks increased during the lockdown, preying on people’s anxiety and then exploiting network vulnerabilities to gain hold. Google tallied more than 18 million malware and phishing emails related to the novel coronavirus on its service each day in April2. With staff working remotely, greater vigilance and security measures are required. Being able to push out security patches and software updates is an absolute necessity to retain the integrity of the firm’s data and infrastructure.
As offices open up, with staff trickling back, devices such as laptops and tablets pose a risk when plugging back into the network. After being used at home, when a device returns to the office environment, there is a risk of importing nefarious malware. Along with general security housekeeping activities, ITProPortal says it’s best practice to set up a segmented area on the network to run a “car wash” scan of devices as they arrive back into the office. This is to ensure that devices meet established minimum compliance standards such as critical security patches and a recent antivirus scan.
While previously frowned upon, 86% of UK CEOs report that the move to remote collaboration is here to stay, with 68% believing that the shift toward lower-density workplaces, with fewer people working together in person, will endure3. With these views, the workplace will definitely undergo change, but not without challenges.
With 47% of remote workers not having access to a home printer4, firms are faced with the prospect of supplying equipment along with the burden of associated running costs (support, consumables and PAT testing). Another option for the remote workers is to purchase and expense the printer and the running costs—or they can utilise a home printing service using a downloadable print driver, providing true flexibility without the annoyance of dried-up ink cartridges or waiting for equipment to be fixed.
Xerox has implemented solutions that enable remote workers to send documents from their devices at home, on the road or indeed in the office, and have them printed and sent to a destination of their choice the next day.
Increased automation of the document management workstreams means that firms (if they haven’t already) are looking to implement digital mailrooms to build resilience into what is a key service for the firm. Expanding on a digital mailroom is accounts payable automation, which increases processing efficiency and accuracy. Speeding up the supplier payment process, having greater visibility of the firm’s cash position, and being able to take advantage of early payment discounts are crucial benefits now more than ever.
At the other end of the cycle is the outbound correspondence, which traditionally has been a labour-intensive process. There are solutions available to again build-in resilience where mail is sent at the click of a button, normally for the price of a second-class stamp. Outside of these solutions, the Xerox research and development team in Palo Alto seeks clients to work with, leveraging current technologies (AI and RPA) to develop novel approaches to everyday tasks. Could your firm benefit from this?
These workplace solutions and more are available from Xerox, assisting your firm in managing information across digital and physical platforms, in a secure and sustainable way.
1 Xerox’s 2020 Future of Work Survey conducted by Vanson Bourne
2 Threat Analysis Group, “Findings on COVID-19 and online security threats” blog entry by Shane Huntley, Google, April 22, 2020, blog.google.