With Melbourne in lockdown and the ever-present risk of a second wave in other parts of the country, making sure employees can go back to work safely is top of the agenda for all companies. But, despite all the hype and buzzwords, not all businesses know how to use technology to protect their employees.
Here, Brooke Jamieson, Experience Lead at PlaceOS, shares five ways smart companies are using technology to make the experience of going back to work truly safer and better:
Nudging physical distance behaviour
It’s much harder to physically distance at work than at the supermarket. The reason is familiarity. You know and have a connection with your work colleagues. You tend to think that it is safer to be with them than with other people. You also feel uncomfortable overtly keeping your distance in the office. Technology can help by nudging people to behave better and feel better about it. Smart companies are doing this with the help of integrated platforms that can send automatic alerts about keeping your distance, block meetings with too many people in an inappropriate room or reward good behaviour. Tech can make these behaviours less personal and take away the burden of making these decisions.
Making cleaning smart
One way companies are trying to make their offices safer is through increased hygiene. In principle, this is a good idea, but it’s putting a lot of pressure on cleaning staff, and it is not necessarily efficient or even safe. A solution here is data-informed cleaning, which uses data such as people location, access card use and lifts movements to understand the high foot traffic and high-risk areas that need additional focus. Data is also helping to identify the best times and cleaning schedules.
This can be a sensitive issue as we try to balance the objectives of fast and comprehensive tracing with protecting privacy. Smart companies are helping by implementing voluntary health checks and being transparent about the information they have. Identifying and acting when detecting a potential COVID case in the office can mean the difference between protecting your employees and society or contributing to the problem.
Thinking about the user experience
We all agree safety is paramount when facing a health crisis. But ignoring the employee experience in a building or the office is counterproductive. If there are too many apps to use; too many rules to remember; too many decisions to make, people will not comply. The word seamless is overused when we talk about user experience, but what it truly means in the COVID context is that people don’t have to make a constant effort to do the right thing. Technology has to do the heavy lifting.
A lot of smart building data focuses on the “who, what, where and when” questions, but rarely touches on the “why”. One of the reasons for this is the lack of integration. Fragmented or incomplete data makes it much harder to understand why people are behaving in a particular fashion. Without understanding the motives which drive behaviours, it is very hard to influence them. That is why I believe that investing in integrated platforms is critical to making good use of data. Smart companies know that too.
Women Love Tech would like to thank Brooke Jamieson, Experience Lead at PlaceOS, for her article.