Many of us are now transitioning from remote working back to our workplace.  In doing so we need to ensure that our office IT systems are safe, operational, up to date, and secure.  This guide focuses on the technology requirements of returning to workreferencing, or linking appropriately to trusted sources of health and safety information that may be relevant too.    

If you are an employer, feel free to download, edit and share this guide with your team.  You may also want to check out the related post: Return to Work – IT guidance for employers. If you are an employee and you are planning to start working back in your office either part time or full time this guide is for you.

The Changing Workplace 

Whilst outside the scope of this guide, it is important that you take advice from your employer to confirm that cleaning has been undertaken in preparation for a return to work;  any changes to workplace policies/rules;  requirements for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); and your responsibilities, if applicable for maintaining workplace hygiene and social distancing. 

Back to Work Objectives

The purpose of this guide is to make sure that when you return to the office you get the fastest possible start to working effectively and securely. For desktop PC users:

  • Your PC has most likely been dormant for several weeks and will need to be updated.
  • You may have taken your PC home to work from and will need to reconnect it.
  • Components may have been borrowed (screens, keyboard, mouse, phone).
  • Cables and connections may have been disturbed e.g. if the office has been deep cleaned.
  • Updates and security patches may not have been applied, and the computer might take a long time to get fully updated.

For laptop users:

  • Do not forget your Power supply if you took it home
  • Monitors or components may have been disturbed and will need to be reconnected
  • Network cables and Wi-Fi will need to be checked.

The following checks will help you methodically ensure that you get back up and running as fast as possible. But do not forget our team are on hand to help provide support if you have questions or run into problems.

Desk checks

Before turning on your computer, have a good look around your desk area. Your employer may have had a deep clean, installed barriers/screens, or rearranged desks to facilitate social distancing. The chances are these cables could be loose or disconnected. You might need longer cables or extension to ensure a comfortable fit.

Take 5 minutes to check that:

  • Power, cables are correctly plugged in and switched on.
  • Monitor cables are connected
  • Network cable is connected to computer and wall/floor socket (or indirectly via desk phone)
  • Keyboard and mouse are properly connected
  • If using a wireless keyboard or mouse, consider replacing the batteries.
  • Ensure cables are tidy, not a trip hazard, or health and safety risk.

If you have time, you may want to check any other IT equipment around the office such as printers in case they have been disturbed too. 

Powering on

Now that your working environment is set up, there are a few things to remember when switching on machines that have been left off for some time.

  • Allow 3-5 mins for the computer to switch on ready to login. 
  • During pouring on you may be asked for an encryption password or pin – make sure you remember it. 
  • When you get to the login screen, you will need to know your username (normally in the form of a domain/username or your email address) and password.  You may also be asked to confirm with two factor authentication using text or an authenticator app on your mobile.   
  • Your password may have expired, and you might be asked to set a new one.
  • If you use a laptop, ensure  that it is  charging  and connected to any external displays – you might need to change your display settings if an external screen is blank. 
  • Check your peripherals such as printers, scanners, bar code or smart card readers.

Checking network connectivity

It is possible that even though you got logged in fine that you are still not connected to the network or internet and this may cause you issues. It only takes a moment to check this.

In Windows 10 check for one of thee three icons on the task bar next to the Clock (usually bottom right corner of the screen).

 

Only the first icon represts a problem and means that your network cable is not properly connected or that you have failed to join the Wifi network. For Wifi try clicking the gobe icon (i.e. disconnected) to see if any networks are available and if you see your business WiFi network try connecting to it. – you’ll may need the Wifi Password too.

For mac OS or persistent issues check out How to – troubleshooting network connectivity or contact support for assistance.

Finally, when connected to the network, open your favourite browser (Firefox, Chrome , Edge) and browse to a your favourite web site, perhaps www.bbc.co.uk. If it all looks good, then we are ready to move on to the next step. Otherwise, reach out to support for assistance.

Check for updates

 

Although powered on, this may be the first time in months that your computer has connected to the internet. This will trigger a series of updates and you may see some desktop notifications alerting you that updates are required. This is totally normal and nothing to worry about. These systems are helping you to stay safe and secure. However, we do not recommend that you wait for these updates check now for and reboot as required. You might have to reboot a few times, the following guides are available to navigate you through the process of updating:

Once up to date:

  • Run a full virus scan (this may take about 30 mins)
  • Open Outlook and synchronise your mailbox
  • Check 3rd part apps such as Dropbox to make sure they are synchronised
  • Upgrade Microsoft Edge to the newest version if prompted. Firefox may also prompt for a restart.

These updates take but being patient and allowing the device to be as up to date as possible is the best practice for yourself, and the business.

Test your key systems

All systems go! Now is the best time to check  all  the key systems you use each day. Ensure you can access the following hassle free:

  • Microsoft outlook mailbox (or G-suite)
  • Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, and SharePoint
  • Company file sharing systems, Mapped drives, etc.
  • CRM, marketing, and line of business systems
  • Accounting / Payroll software
  • Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Make sure you can print

Note that to save costs some licenses may have been disabled or suspended. As applications are tested you will revalidate existing licenses and highlight any that need attention.

Turn those out of offices off

If you are returning to the office from a period of furlough, your employer may have added an out of office rule to your accounts. This might include a message to the sender, redirection to another employee, voicemail message or status message in a line of business application.

Email message checks:

  • Disable out of office messages from within Outlook, via Outlook on the web, or from the Outlook App for IOS or Android.
  • If mail has been redirected to a colleague in your absence, you will need to contact support to disable this.
  • Check your email by sending a message to your personal email and reply to make sure it works both ways.

Phone voicemail and forwarders:

  • Check your voicemails and delete any old ones.
  • Change your voicemail message and settings as required.
  • Test your extension by calling a colleague and then ask them to call you back.
  • If you have a direct dial (DDI) number, call your DDI from your mobile.
  • If you have a headset, make sure it works okay too.

For further help, refer to our How to guide for “turning off out of office“.

Conclusion

The steps outlined in this guide provide a representative example for employees and businesses.  However, be aware that not all steps will be relevant to you.

You are now all set up with the comfort of knowing that your IT equipment and systems are ready to face the day with you.  By following this quick technical checklist, we hope it makes your return and adaptation to the office is a smooth one.  The checklist will help you for that first day back, and ensures your IT equipment will be ready for the new normal environment.  

Do not forget to register for the Business Accelerator programme, including the free editable checklist. 

Health and Safety Resources

Please visit www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/ for the latest government advice on the coronavirus in Scotland.

For guidance in England visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

Business Accelerator Programme 

This guide forms part of the IT Foundations Business Accelerator Programme.  Find out more about the free programme including sign up details to access additional content including a free Checklist that accompanies this guide. 

Business accelerator free checklist