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A Reason to Return: Office Amenities Help Bring Employees Back

A Reason to Return: Office Amenities Help Bring Employees Back

Workplace amenities used to be associated with tech start-ups – meals, game rooms, and bring-your-dog-to-work were some of the popular perks that kept tech workers in the office. Why go home when everything you want is there? Today’s newer office buildings are taking a page from the tech world, offering an array of amenities like gyms, concierge services, and lounges.

It’s all part of tenants’ commitment to hybrid offices, a staffing retain-and-return game plan for many companies. Survey after survey shows the same results: Employees do not want to go back to full-time in-office operations. And employers are discovering that the hybrid workstyle has benefits that they don’t want to give up, including greater productivity, lower real estate costs, and happy employees.

Employees are willing to trade space for the hybrid workstyle. More than half of law firm employees recently surveyed said they would trade assigned seating/offices for greater flexibility. That’s good news for employers, who can reduce their office footprint when they don’t have to find space for all their staff each and every day.

The amenities offered by first-class office buildings aren’t free, of course, and a prudent practice manager or facilities manager will try to balance that extra cost by reducing the amount of space in a new lease. The same law firm survey showed the average square feet per attorney has decreased from 760 s.f. to 625 s.f., and other industry sectors are making similar reductions.

But reducing personnel space can only go so far. For many professional practices, paper documents take up an outsize proportion of the office footprint. High density storage systems help reduce the space needed for document storage. Digitization goes even further.

Just one filing cabinet takes up 9 square feet, at an average real estate cost of $540 per year (and that’s before factoring in the higher price of amenity-rich buildings). Document conversion eliminates the need for that space, and the cost associated with it.

Digitization lets you have your cake (or gym or lounge) and eat it too. When employers can offer appealing amenities to encourage staff to return to the office, without increasing their real estate costs, it’s a win for everyone.

 

Photo © Iriana Shiyan / AdobeStock

Hackable: How Return-to-the-Office Makes Paper a Security Issue

Hackable: How Return-to-the-Office Makes Paper a Security Issue

We usually think of electronic files as the only medium to be targeted by hackers. Paper seems invulnerable to hacks. If the bad actors don’t have the paper documents, they don’t have the data. But is that really true?

Cyber attacks have been common occurrences. Many times, however, such hacks were preventable: Passwords were not protected, download and upload protocols were not observed, file-sharing rules weren’t enforced.

You may think paper-based data isn’t hackable. But if we define “hacking” as the theft of information, no matter the medium, paper documents have been hacked repeatedly, for many, many years. (Pentagon Papers, anyone?)

Now that employees are returning to the workplace, paper documents are once again reappearing on desks, in copiers, and in file folders. Those supposedly safe documents can be hacked in a number of ways. A few examples:

  • A confidential document left in a copier tray
  • A sensitive document tossed in the trash
  • A password written on a sticky note and pasted to a computer
  • A private report left in a conference room after a presentation

In each case, the information can easily make its way into the hands of people who shouldn’t have this sensitive data.

One way to make paper documents less hackable is to digitize them. Digitization converts a paper document’s information into electronic format, bringing it into the cyber world where new technology can keep it more secure. Digitization gives bad actors one less way to access information.

Document conversion simplifies data security because there is only one primary medium to secure. Security advocates recommend bringing paper documents into the purview of Chief Information Officers, who have traditionally focused on securing only electronic data. Digitizing paper documents makes them more manageable for CIO’s. With the reduction of paper-based information, there is only one door for criminals to get at sensitive information. And CIO’s can enforce strict data hygiene to protect that single door, and keep information safe.

Return-to-the-office, whether full time or hybrid, gives businesses an opportunity to reassess their information security. Now is the time to institute a digitization program and eliminate a significant security vulnerability.

Photo © Andrey Popov / AdobeStock

Labs: No Two Alike, Except for These Three Things

Labs: No Two Alike, Except for These Three Things

“There is no one-size-fits-all,” says Gensler Research, regarding lab design and adaptive reuse. Like people, each lab has its own unique purpose and form. A lab, unlike typical office space, may have to take into account ventilation, vibration, volatile chemicals, greater-than-usual utilities requirements, or dangers to workers and the general public, to name just a few of their special challenges.

But no matter what type of lab yours may be, from analytics and QC to biohazard or R&D, these three operational elements help any lab fulfill its mission.

Storage cabinets and casework – Cluttered labs are unsafe labs. Whatever the science specialty, whatever the experimental design, every lab needs to protect items from contamination, damage, loss, or degradation:

  • Equipment
  • Chemicals
  • Documents
  • Electronics
  • Test and experimental supplies
  • Researchers’ personal items

Your current lab storage may be perfect for your processes today. But once a research phase comes to an end, the layout and type of storage may not fit the next phase. Labs outfitted with modular casework can reconfigure their storage to suit the new functions, rather than scrapping the existing storage – a benefit to the budget and the environment.

Data management – The essence of scientific investigation is the collection and management of data. Paper documents may be the only option in some labs, especially if electronics interfere with experimental processes. But data on paper takes time to access and analyze, and paper itself is a fragile medium. Document imaging converts paper-based data to electronic data for fast, easy use. Moreover, it preserves the data in a secure form, controlling accessibility and preventing the loss of invaluable information.

Equipment and materials management – Labs’ budgets can skyrocket when expensive equipment is lost. Time-dependent research can be wasted when materials can’t be located in inventory. And hand-written inventories are notoriously error-prone, not to mention an expensive use of researchers’ time. RFID asset management systems take the burden off researchers by automatically tracking quantities and whereabouts of these vital components. Equipment is easy to find, and there’s never a shortage of essential elements.

All three of these design and operations technologies contribute to safe and efficient lab functionality. Just as important, they have a positive effect on your lab’s bottom line, saving time and money. It’s not theoretical; it’s proven. Talk to a storage and organization consultant and review the options.

 

Photo © mast3r / AdobeStock

RFID Keeps Retailers’ Storefronts in the Black

RFID Keeps Retailers’ Storefronts in the Black

Like every other economic sector, retailers have been forced to reshape their operations due to the covid pandemic. Although there has been an uptick in in-store buying, especially during the holidays, pandemic-induced modes of shopping are now part of the new normal, especially online shopping and curb-side pickup.

Consulting firm McKinsey reports that store-located pickups have been more profitable than delivery from a central distribution center. The cost of replenishing, picking, and staging are higher with store pickups, but that cost is outweighed by the expense of last-mile home deliveries.

Brick-and-mortar stores are now playing a major role in omnichannel shopping fulfillment in the new normal. Contrary to predictions (and contrary to the retail trends leading up to 2020), storefronts are far from dead.

But competition among retailers is stronger than ever, and savvy retailers are adopting or extending RFID technology to enhance the customer “buying journey:”

  • Inventory tracking – RFID automates replenishment planning and ordering, and tracks product locations through the supply and distribution chain.
  • Store operations – RFID automates notifications of restocking and picking, decreases shrinkage, and enables self-checkout.
  • Customer experience – Currently in limited deployment, RFID holds the potential for personalized shopping recommendations in-store and online.

According to McKinsey, when retailers commit to RFID they can expect to see profit-boosting benefits:

  • A 25% improvement in inventory accuracy, preventing over-buying and stockouts.
  • A 10-15% reduction in inventory labor costs.
  • A reduction of shrinkage and pilferage resulting in a 1.5% increase in revenues.

RFID isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition, however. To make sure you’re getting the best technology for your retail operation, talk to a storage solutions consultant with RFID expertise.

 

Photo © pikselstock / AdobeStock

How RFID Helps First Responders Manage Disasters

How RFID Helps First Responders Manage Disasters

Weather disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe. Front-line workers are challenged to manage the multitude of elements needed for rescue and recovery.

In disaster situations, routine procedures are disrupted. Decision data is often scanty and uncertain, leading to errors and waste of materials and time.  RFID technology can make a difference, providing the answers to what and where questions:

  • Equipment – Medical equipment like gurneys and oxygen tanks; transport vehicles like ambulances and firetrucks; heavy equipment like bulldozers; communication devices like radios and tablets – in an emergency, decision makers need to know the whereabouts of all their equipment assets. RFID doorway readers keep tabs on them all.
  • Supplies and Medications – EMT’s and ER personnel must maintain a supply of bandages, dressings, scissors, clamps, and multiple types of medications. Using a hand-held RFID reader, a quick scan of an ambulance or a treatment room confirms that RFID-tagged supplies are topped up.
  • Tools and Weapons – The aftermath of a weather disaster calls for tools for search and rescue, and firearms to assist law enforcementin opportunistic-crime prevention. From chainsaws and shovels to pistols and tazers, RFID helps first responders maintain their inventory in readiness for emergencies, safely and securely.
  • Personnel – RFID’s locational function lets disaster managers know where each of their team members is in the field, even when visibility is minimal. For victims, first responders can issue RFID tags or bracelets with identification, health, and injury information. Those tags can be scanned by ER workers to speed triage and avoid medical errors; in some cases, patients’ electronic medical records can be automatically updated.

At its core, RFID technology integrates object information (“what”) and location information (“where”).  Each one of these RFID applications speeds up the collection and distribution of what and where information. And fast access to information is essential to good decision making in high-pressure situations like floods, wildfires, or tornadoes.

RFID will interface with other public-safety communication systems, improving vital interoperability and information flow. But its speedy and accurate delivery of information isn’t just for disaster situations. RFID is a mature, proven data technology with benefits for everyday business operations in the private sector. But if RFID can assist public safety and healthcare providers in weather disasters, you can count on it to help your organization in disaster recovery as well. Weather happens. Be ready for it!

 

Photo © Lukassek / AdobeStock

Document Imaging Works For All: WFH, Hybrid, or Fulltime In-Office

Document Imaging Works For All: WFH, Hybrid, or Fulltime In-Office

It’s no secret that the nature of office work has been permanently changed by the covid pandemic. WFH has been confirmed as a viable alternative to large, expensive in-person offices. Hybrid offices have evolved into a productive balance of part-time WFH and well-scheduled in-office work. And for workers and managers who rely on in-person collaboration, new office designs are making it safe to work together again.

Flexibility is the new standard for the post-covid office. And that flexibility includes a variety of technologies, with employers providing:

  • High speed internet and home office furnishings, for the WFH work model;
  • Collaboration and scheduling software to manage work time and location, for the hybrid workplace;
  • Safety-conscious touchless technology controlling entry, lighting, and climate, for the fulltime in-person office.

Some of these technologies overlap workstyles. For example, both WFH tech and in-person office tech fit well in the hybrid office. But there is one technology that is common to every workplace model: document imaging.

Document imaging supports productivity in any workplace.

  • In the in-person office, imaged documents save valuable space, letting managers convert document storage space into additional room for safely-spaced workstations.
  • In the WFH office, imaged documents can be accessed from anywhere, keeping productivity high even when physical documents aren’t accessible.
  • In the hybrid workplace, imaged documents support collaboration whether in person or remotely.

As employers seek to fill post-pandemic jobs, workers have a new-found leverage to state their preference for WFH, hybrid, or fulltime office work. The Harvard Business Review states that today’s recruiting challenges won’t be solved by the solutions of the past. Adjusting salaries to the cost of living, recruiting overlooked talent like older workers, and setting up satellite offices to reduce commutes all make it easier to recruit and retain top talent.

But for employees and employers to be successful, the workplace technology should be matched to the preferred workplace model. And for all workplace models, document imaging technology is a productive match.

Photo © mavoimages / AdobeStock