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Network capacity planning best practices for return to office

As workers grow comfortable enough to return to the office, network teams will need to plan in advance to make sure the network is ready and ensure proper performance.

Plenty of network teams were caught off guard when business leaders allowed employees to work from home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Network admins raced to retool remote access policies and technologies to support the shift.

As pandemic concerns begin to subside and enterprises start discussions about allowing employees to return to the office, it's important to get the network prepared for the migration back to the corporate LAN. Here are a few network capacity planning best practices to consider as employees return to the office.

Perform hardware and software upgrades prior to users returning

Once corporate policy changed to allow employees to work from home, network and infrastructure administrators scrambled to ensure their network and corresponding application, server and cloud technologies could accommodate the massive uptick in remote workers. Remote access, corporate edge and cloud technologies -- correctly -- got all the attention, but management and upkeep of the corporate LAN, wireless LAN and WAN may have slipped.

Before users can return to the office en masse, audit the current state of the corporate network, and perform any critical hardware or software upgrades. Do this while end-user occupancy is low. It will help reduce any network outages that can affect business operations.

Anticipate a hybrid workplace environment for the foreseeable future

Although the likelihood of employees returning to the office within the year is expected to be reasonably high, understand that something may occur that returns employees back to their homes at a moment's notice.

Because of this, anticipate as part of your planning best practices that most of your employees will be working in a hybrid home and office setting for the foreseeable future. Users will expect that all apps, data and other digital resources are accessible and perform identically, regardless of where they work. This may require administrators to rethink their work-from-home deployment strategies to further enhance application performance and data security.

Network capacity planning steps
Follow these best practices to prepare your corporate network for the return to office.

Assess how application usage may have changed

The types of apps and the number of users who access them may be drastically different now compared to a year ago. Investigate these shifts, and determine if any may negatively affect the corporate network from a performance and data security perspective. The use of video conferencing software, for example, has exploded over the past 12 months. The use of these latency-sensitive and bandwidth-hungry applications will continue even as employees return to the office. Verify that sufficient network capacity is available to handle the additional bandwidth load.

This was last published in April 2021

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