Are Your Office Pre-Flight Checks Complete?

Mar 24, 2021

By Tom Cole, Managing Director - UK & Europe at Abacus Group

Vaccinations are progressing at an impressive rate and a cautiously optimistic energy is in the air. From talking to clients and peers, there is a growing consensus that reopening offices is on the horizon. Whether you work via a serviced space or directly lease your own office, these pointers should be universal considerations.

Are PCs and laptops patched and ready?

Have your office devices enjoyed a year’s holiday? If so, they will be significantly out-of-date since patching and application upgrades have not happened. One noteworthy and update-hungry application is Bloomberg. It’s strongly advised that machines are powered on, updated and tested in advance to avoid any last-minute delays and frustrations.

Is connectivity online with no alarms?

Connectivity/circuits are your umbilical cord to the digital world. It is common practice for fund managers to have resilient services (i.e. a primary and a backup circuit). As a sanity check, make sure both lines are in service with no long-standing alarms. More often than not, monitoring would flag any issues. However, this is a great opportunity to conduct your checks for peace of mind.

Do you require any moves and/or changes?

Social distancing will inevitably lead to relocations within the office space. Whilst a straightforward task, these require time and energy to complete. Do you have a plan with resources arranged? We recommend over-communicating your plans with IT departments or service providers to ensure resourcing is reserved and ready to avoid any last-minute rushes.

Is your firm webcam ready?

Whilst many will be returning to the office, some firms may be operating a hybrid work rota, meaning staff are split between being in and outside of the office. Over the past year, Zoom, Teams, etc. have enforced a new norm of video calls. In order to ensure that remote workers remain visually ‘connected’ to colleagues, do you plan on deploying webcams to people in the office, or do you need to rethink your audiovisual solution?

Is your hardware inventory reconciled?

Businesses have had to exercise agility over the past year. Is all hardware present and accounted for? This is not just good practice for accounting and fixed asset reporting, but more importantly for data loss prevention. Is a laptop or desktop which was supposed to be in the office no longer in the office? If you have had leavers over the past year, has all equipment been remotely wiped and/or reclaimed? Your technology team will be equipped to help report on inventory and activity.

Has your air conditioning been maintained and validated?

Your office may have been sitting dormant for a long period of time. It is standard practice to have air conditioning maintained (i.e. check performance and cleanliness at least bi-annually). Did you ‘maintain’ the office during the lockdown? If not, you absolutely should be engaging with your maintenance contractor to validate and service. Going forward, quarterly maintenance should be conducted. It makes sense to make the most of partially or fully empty offices and complete maintenance tasks.

Is your electrical infrastructure checked and compliant (UK)?

Unsurprisingly, office electrical services are highly regulated. Some regulations include the electrical installation conditions report (previously known as periodic inspection reports) and PAT (portable appliance testing). Given the regulatory requirement, these are non-discretionary. Insurance policies require valid tests and certification. If you are curious about compliance or want to know more, contact us and we can introduce you to the experts.

Is your security access control updated?

It’s good practice for many access control solutions to disable access to individuals after 30 days of inactivity. It’s fair to assume many of us may be unintentionally locked out of the office. We recommend you reach out to the relevant person or firm to understand your lockout policy and ensure appropriate access is reinstated. It may also be an opportune time to review your access control systems. Can the administration be securely conducted remotely? With hybrid working scenario’s, this is highly desirable. Should you consider the latest technology which can read a person’s temperature, check if a mask is present and grant access touchless via a highly secure biometric facial recognition? These are all questions to review.

Is your CCTV being maintained?

If you operate CCTV in your office, is an appropriate maintenance schedule in place? Are recordings and playbacks validated? Are lenses clear of dust and obstructions, ensuring recordings are optimal? With any office moves and changes, camera repositioning needs to be considered. Similar to security access control, now may be a good time to consider upgrading to a modern solution that is remotely accessible and able to detect and alert high body temperatures. As with all solutions which are absorbing, processing and harbouring personally identifiable information (PII), ensure your data privacy laws (e.g. GDPR) are considered with appropriate controls in place.

Many offices have been abandoned and unloved for the past year. As with all technology, mechanical and electrical services proactive planning and maintenance is smarter money than reactive, disruptive repairs. We have a vast network of contractors we’d be happy to introduce you to. Should you be falling short or curious on any of the above points, please contact us.

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