The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented change in the way that we all work. Employees have adapted to working remotely, using Zoom/web conferencing — engrained in daily work lives. This new normal has been adopted to push us through this difficult situation but now we’re at a stage where companies are preparing to return to work and there’s a lot more to it than just opening the doors. New considerations now exist like physical distancing, monitoring employee temperatures, and contact tracing. What are the main safety concerns for employers?
Here are six ways to move forward as your organization begins to return to a physical work location:
Deal with the confusion. Arguably, most companies have never dealt with the fallout of a global pandemic before. The most important thing to consider as you move forward toward reopening is to make sure that the company is taking a layered approach that includes a combination of technology, employer strategies and employee communication. This alleviates organizations from operating in silos, which can breed confusion and cause mistakes to be made.
Technology won’t solve everything. This sounds weird coming from a SaaS company, but hear us out: you need a plan when implementing technology to solve a problem. Answer the following questions: how do you intend on implementing it/managing it? Do you have rules around it in a multi-tenant organization (for example) with possibly hundreds of different tenants? Has that plan been communicated all the way around with them? If it’s a single-tenant occupancy, how have the employees been educated? How do you intend on maintaining tech? Who’s responsible? All of these need to be considered.
Establish reality vs. expectation. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Pretty pictures of yellow/green/blue shades that have a tendency to convey a story that isn’t necessarily real. Thermographic cameras are there to show a spectrum, and have the ability to help with a company’s end goals, but we’re working toward creating more accurate measurements. It’s important that clients and customers understand what this type of technology is truly capable of.
Involve HR. When implementing a policy around self-reporting, it’s critical for human resources to be able to get info out to employees about the process. From a legal/liability perspective, this method is one way to help adhere to regulations set forth. HR needs to be involved in putting together a strong policy around staying home if you’re sick with the caveat that IF an employee feels OK enough, they have the option to work remotely. Employers have to be more flexible in this regard.
Consider the space. In just a matter of months, companies went from open, collaborative floor plans to more confined, closed spaces for health reasons. It begs the question: How do we take open office space and keep it as a safe space? Offices are high-risk areas because people are spending time in the same space, sharing high-touch surfaces. An office is typically low-risk in terms of injury/illness, but suddenly leaders are in this position where they do have to think about illness being a hazard. Technology is one thing in the toolbox that can help to make sure people aren’t crowding.
Make wise investments. If an organization does identify that it needs the help of technology to achieve all of these results, leaders must combine policies, procedures and education to be successful. When we talk about incorporating technology, it’s really about the aggregation of data. Everything that organizations gather now is done in real-time but it’s the post-activity review that will determine whether there’s a process or procedure that makes more sense. Solutions can give this insight to end users to help manage that risk.
The result. Using analytics coming from video data to understand how people are using an office helps to better adjust how a facility sets up that space, but the more obvious technology tools are thermal cameras with temperature detection, as well as occupancy and space utilization tech, which ties directly into physical distancing. Contact tracing is another critical way to leverage procedural information with monitoring technology to effectively trace an outbreak, which can result in better reporting and protection.
Returning to work can be a high-stress situation for employees and employers as both work to navigate best practices for safety and security. For more information about leveraging technology for this process, click here.