Is Tech the Answer to Building Resilient Workplaces in the New Normal? Here’s a Checklist.

The pre-2020 concept of working at the office has been turned on its head. The pandemic is forcing businesses to rethink workplace design and consider remote working as part of the long-term situation.

How can employers ensure employee safety and confidence, given the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19? How can they build workplace resiliency into their organisations for the challenges ahead – both known and unknown?

Helping Employees Feel Safe and Stay Safe

Top concerns of employees returning to their places of work include the fear of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections. Another area of concern by staff is compliance with safety measures, both their own and that of their co-workers.

Ensuring compliance with government-mandated safety measures provides an effective baseline for keeping employees safe when they return to the office. What can employers do to address these needs?

Here’s a checklist of four tech-enabled strategies to ensure added workplace safety and assurance as businesses look to transition employees back to their desks:

  1. Ensure social distancing with an optimal floorplan. Bring social distancing into your office layout by identifying the optimal workstation and thoroughfare spatial arrangements. Video-based applications can help detect violations of safe distancing requirements and immediately send alerts to safety management officers. Video analytics can improve office planning by providing occupancy statistics at desks, in meeting rooms and kitchen/beverage areas.

For B2C businesses such as retailers, ensuring social distancing can be even more challenging. Video technologies can help with customer numbers in shops, proximity and directional footfall detection. Facial recognition apps can integrate with an open video management system, that can be updated with mask detection capabilities to aid with contact tracing as well.

  1. Provide non-intrusive temperature detection. The ability to identify potential virus carriers early is key to breaking the chain of contagion. The challenge is doing this in a way that ensures people are most comfortable. Non-contact infrared thermometers or thermal imaging cameras that can screen or monitor an individual for potentially elevated skin temperatures (a primary symptom of COVID-19) are a solution. This helps businesses to obtain critical information with minimal disruption.
  2. Reduce virus transmissions through access control. Studies have shown that COVID-19 can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours. This creates a considerable risk in communal spaces such as office buildings and shopping areas where individuals must share amenities. Minimising common contact points such as door handles and security gates will help reduce those risks.

Thanks to video-integrated access control, authorised personnel can enter a designated area without the need for physical contact. It can regulate the number of people on-site with a “one in, one out” policy, where waiting employees/customers are automatically notified when they can enter the designated area, based on occupancy limits.

  1. Enable person tracking. Contact tracing is a big part of virus containment strategy. Video data combined with access control can help authorities trace a COVID-19 patient’s contacts so containment can be achieved or alert for office shutdowns or quarantines. Today, I.D. technologies are effectively providing logs or reports for contact tracing purposes – offering management historic assessment that identifies potential contact points.

‘Smart’ Infrastructure Invests in Workplace Flexibility

These four strategies will not just provide a solid level of security; they also give employees the confidence that they are going back to a safe work environment.

However, the strategies do come with their own set of challenges. Some business owners may balk at incurring any additional costs at a time when cash flow is under pressure. The truth is these investments in technologies have long-reaching advantages into post-pandemic scenarios. It ensures that businesses have a smart and flexible workplace infrastructure that can adapt to changing demands and challenges posed in the new normal.

The technology elevates the workplace to be a giant online multi-faceted device, with interconnected solutions working together to make life easier, more efficient, and safer. When combined with the right open platform video management system, infrastructural systems such as video cameras and access control points can be retrofitted with new smart technologies that can be customised to meet your organisation’s needs over time and circumstance.

As economies slowly reopen, we acknowledge that things will never go back to the way they were before. Technologies introduced today to deal with a COVID-19 work environment can prove to be invaluable assets for workplace resiliency, whatever the future may hold.

This article stems from an opinion piece by Benjamin Low, VP APAC for Milestone Systems, that was published in August 2020 by Singapore Business Review. Read it in full here: