As an unforgettable 2020 draws to an end many companies are looking at how to best prepare for the future, causing conversations of budgeting to be very different than in the past. With remote workers occupying significant portions of many workforces, adjustments are being made to accommodate those hybrid offices. Some organizations are even planning to slash their office space budgets in favor of a permanent remote workplace.

 

The good news is, IT trends over the last few years have been preparing us for a virtual world. More businesses have abandoned onsite servers in favor of cloud-based servers. Microsoft has pumped an enormous amount of time and resources into improving its virtual collaboration apps in Microsoft 365. Trends such as these lay the groundwork for some organizations to transition smoothly, even if unexpectedly, to a virtual workplace.

 

However, if your business found itself scrambling this last year to adapt there are a few things you can adjust in your 2021 budget to prepare for surprise transitions in the future.

 

Make it mobile

Rather than budgeting for new desktops to upgrade those older machines next year, talk to your IT technicians and determine if any of those could be replaced instead with laptops. Typical laptops don’t pack as much punch as a desktop, however, depending on the kinds of programs individuals need to run on their machines, a laptop paired with a docking station and external monitors can be an excellent alternative to the standard desktop set up. The benefit is it allows for an easy transition if a person needs to work from out of the office for a time. Just unplug the laptop and take it with you.

 

Go for VoIP

In many cases, the difficult part of working during a pandemic wasn't from having your staff work remotely, but being able to answer phone calls when people weren’t in the office. Remote employees were giving out their home or personal cell numbers to clients so they could continue to do business. Switching to a VoIP phone system, such as 3CX, gives companies much needed flexibility. With integrated desktop and mobile apps as well as a web portal, your staff can answer and make calls as if they’re in the office anywhere they have internet. All they need are some speakers or headphones and a microphone and they will be good to go.

 

Forwarding certain calls, changing greetings and adding new phone numbers can also be done with much more ease than with traditional phone systems and at a fraction of the cost.

 

Can you hear me now?

If you tend to bypass things like speakers and headsets when purchasing new work stations, now’s the time to start factoring them into your IT budget. Teams meeting are fine until you realize all you have is a speaker and no microphone, leaving your officemates able to hear the whole conversation clear as day but no one in your meeting is able to hear you. Businesses who don’t typically include these once considered frivolous tools, ended up scouring dark corners of the internet trying to find whatever they could to alleviate these issues, leading to shortages and long delays in shipping. Factoring even some low cost headsets into your 2021 budget will make sure you’re plenty prepared in the long run.

 

This goes for cameras too, unless you plan to trade your grandmother’s wedding ring for the last webcam on eBay.

 

Ultimately, you want to make sure your business is prepared for anything so even when nothing else is going as planned, you can rest assured knowing your workflow is solid. Take some time to evaluate any pain points you experienced in your IT over the last year as we transition in and out of different workplace environments and make some space in your budget for any alterations that might help you avoid any future headaches. We’ve all had more than enough of those in 2020.