The COVID-19 pandemic brought the entire world to a sudden halt. Although many organizations managed to quickly set up a remote work environment, so employees could seamlessly work from their homes, many others struggled to cope up with this change due to the lack of the proper IT infrastructure. For both types of organizations, the struggle to maintain (and sustain) productivity has been real. And of course, there are many industries where working remotely is just not possible because they involve the production of physical goods and building objects. As the world learns to adjust to the new normal, organizations will need to work towards enabling resiliency, adaptability, (and even reinvention) to get employees back to work safely.
The challenge in bringing employees back
Now that the time to get back to work in the factories, mines, manufacturing facilities, power plants, and mills has come, organizations face the stiff challenge of not having systems and processes in place that can ensure the health and safety of the workforce.
Such businesses that are reopening are finding it difficult to bring employees back to work. In addition to having to make some drastic changes in the workplace setting to comply with evolving pandemic regulations, they are also struggling to gain the trust of employees in ensuring their safety. In the absence of the right tools and systems to monitor and trace employee movements, location, and physical conditions, ensuring a healthy work environment can prove to be costly for organizations.
What it’ll take
The workplace dynamics will be very different from pre-pandemic times. Biometric access points, elevators jam-packed with employees, formal handshakes, crowded canteens, and shop floor desks converting into instant discussion hubs might all just become relics of the past. As organizations look to bring employees back to the workplace, a lot of changes will have to be made to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are some of them:
- Touchless workplace systems: As organizations prepare to get back to business, AI-enabled contactless biometric authentication can make way for touchless entry/exit points as well as time clocks. Integrating spatial and geofencing IoT-driven solutions with AI-enabled touchless workplace systems will empower organizations to comply with CDC recommendations for social distancing. Integrating such highly intuitive platforms that have touchless interfaces with an organization’s existing systems and hardware, organizations will allow employees to do their daily tasks – without having to physically touch door handles, electronic keyboards, elevator buttons, or coffee machines. Life as they knew it, but safer!
- Real-time employee monitoring: Along with minimizing the number of physical touchpoints and high-touch surfaces, organizations will also need to have systems in place that can monitor employees in real-time. Using facial authentication technology, organizations can check if employees are wearing mandatory safety equipment like masks or face protection shields. Using temperature scanners, they can also scan body temperatures and quickly identify employees who may need to be isolated. Such real-time monitoring will ultimately allow organizations to take preventative measures proactively to reduce the spread of the virus and maintain employee health and, of course, productivity.
- Contact tracing: Along with minimizing the number of physical touchpoints and high-touch surfaces, organizations will also need to have systems in place that can monitor employees in real-time. Using facial authentication technology, organizations can check if employees are wearing mandatory safety equipment like masks or face protection shields. Using temperature scanners, they can also scan body temperatures and quickly identify employees who may need to be isolated. Such real-time monitoring will ultimately allow organizations to take preventative measures proactively to reduce the spread of the virus and maintain employee health and, of course, productivity.
- Social distancing alerts: Organizations will also have to embrace modern technology such as smart hats equipped with the intelligence of the latest wearable devices that can provide alerts when a worker moves within 6 feet of another. Through audible, visual, or haptic alerts, such wearables can help employees maintain their distance while working on the job and ensure their safety as well as the safety of their co-workers. Organizations can also utilize the captured data for future analysis and reporting.
- Adherence to guidelines: With governments across the globe constantly updating guidelines to curb a second wave of the pandemic, organizations will have to constantly stay on speed with these evolving regulations. They will have to embrace solutions that comply with precautionary guidelines set by government entities such as the CDC and OSHA. These solutions will have to be flexible to allow agile changes in line with evolving guidelines. While gathering employee data, they will also have to embrace adequate attention is paid to employee privacy. They will have to create proper data security infrastructure to ensure encryption and protection of end-user identity and personally identifiable information.
As the world prepares to get back to work, technologies such as IoT, AI, and analytics can provide organizations with the capabilities they need to monitor employees in real-time, trace contacts, and take appropriate social distancing measures. To ensure the safety and well-being of the workforce while simultaneously complying with industry and government regulations, organizations will need to use the power of technology to create modified arrangements of their workplace environments. The aim can be nothing less than keeping their workforce safe – without compromising on the needs of the workers.