Workplace technology has always run the gamut from the oldest to the newest possible implementations. Some companies have barely switched from typewriters to computers while others are automatically clocking in employees with RFID readers embedded in the doors. However, never has there been a more forceful push for workplace technology than the Pandemic we have all just experienced. Companies with cloud platforms and online workflows survived and adapted far more aptly than those companies still working with printed paper office-only policies.
Likewise, technology has been essential in making the return-to-work comeback. How do you know your office is safe to return to, with viral exposure still a widespread risk? You can’t always count on coworkers to wear their masks and keep their distance, but you can trust technology.
Fortunately, technology has – as always – adapted to the needs of the situation. Let’s dive into the leading technologies being used to keep the workplace COVID-safe.
Infrared Thermometers to Detect Fever
One of the best ways to detect an otherwise asymptomatic COVID case is with fever detection. Checking everyone’s temperature as they enter the building has become the go-to method for hospitals, workplaces, restaurants, and reopened stores. Of course, having each person hold a thermometer under their tongue for 30 seconds is hardly efficient and requires a healthcare professional to be present sanitising the thermometer between each person tested.
Instead, infrared lasers are coming into play. An infrared beam combined with a precision camera can tell the difference in temperature between two objects. Using a “black body” (black room temperature object) as a reference point, infrared tech can accurately detect the surface skin temperature of each person as they enter.
While this tech also catches people who have been exercising or standing in the sun, basic fever detection now takes 5 seconds in front of a kiosk per-person instead of standing in line to see a health professional as each person enters the building.
Face Detection Technology for Mask Compliance
Masking has become a huge issue because there are so many people who do not mask safely. Even people trying to mask correctly don’t always get it right. Many wear masks under their nose, not realising that this completely defeats the purpose of trying to contain and protect your airways. Anti-maskers are known to remove their masks and even aggressively breathe on others massively increasing workplace exposure risks.
The answer is an adaptation of face detection software. Instead of identifying mouths and noses, face detection can be used to identify if mouths and noses are visible. Anyone whose lower face can be identified will cause a flag in the system and the face detection cameras will help workplace enforcement ensure that each employee is masked at all times.
Naturally, there must be exceptions for lunch and private spaces, but this tech can ensure that no one is walking around public workplace spaces without properly wearing a mask.
Cameras to Track Occupancy and Group Concentration
Occupancy tracking has become another hot technology to ensure the possibility of social distancing. Simple camera detection software can identify the shape of a human body and keep track of how many people are in a room or walk through a set of doors. This gives a constant and accurate count of occupants, helping workplaces stay compliant for low-density occupancy.
Occupancy detection camera software can also detect when coworkers are violating social distancing protocols. Gathering too close together or in too large of groups can be dangerous, especially in circumstances where 100% masking is not possible. Occupancy detection can help detect bottlenecks that create close quarters and employee habits that lead to close grouping.
Device Tracking for Crowd and Occupancy Management
Inside an office building or even an industrial park, mobile devices can be used to generally track the location and concentration of employees. Phones linked via Bluetooth and RFID badges will offer the greatest accuracy but even wifi smartphone tracking can help businesses reduce the risk of gathering crowds in the workspaces and hallways.
It is now possible to track employees via beacons emitted by mobile devices and RFID chipped items. This helps employers to provide both security and COVID safety to the whole building with high accuracy. Just be sure to combine this method with others, as people can leave their phones and IDs behind.
Digital Signage Used for Room Scheduling and Occupancy
Hotel room technology is exporting to the general business world with doorway indicators of occupancy and scheduling. The importance of privacy in a private office or an isolated conference room has now skyrocketed, and respecting someone’s isolated space could be the difference between safety and exposure. Likewise, the digital signage can display that a room is booked or about to be occupied to help groups and individuals steer clear of each other.
We expect to see a significant spike in digital signage to indicate and control room occupancy. As tablets and mounted control panels rise in popularity, digital signage even becomes portable for visited locations and rented venues. Combined with occupancy cameras, these outside-of-door indicators could keep track of how many people are permitted in each conference room and prevent groups from gathering too densely in any enclosed space.
Sanitisation Reminders and Automation
Keeping surfaces clean is essential as new variants sweep through the population. At first, we cleaned frequently and everyone carried wipes and sanitiser on-the-go. Now, workplaces can design their own spaces to promote or even automate sanitation. UV flashes, antimicrobial surfaces, and alcohol sprays can help to keep public and high-touch surfaces clean. For workspaces, technology can help to remind each person and group to sanitise as they leave a room.
Employee location tracking via Bluetooth or RFID can also send automated mobile signals as an employee leaves a room or area. This can be a quick and handy reminder to sanitise, signal your custodial team, and change the digital signage on the room.
Data Scheduling to Avoid Break Room Crowding
Likewise, expect to see much more detailed break scheduling. In the past, many workplaces have allowed employees and teams to break together and spend lunch in a big friendly group. Even those not part of the planned lunchtime could still find themselves sharing a crowded break room around the time everyone takes lunch. But no more.
Now, lunch is one of the riskiest times of the day because you can’t eat with a mask on. Staggering breaks and lunch hours has become essential to reduce the risk of exposure across teams. Expect to see far more striated and precise scheduling to help employees avoid crowding the break room when it comes time to eat.
Motion Activated Doors and Dispenser
Lastly, motion detectors are seeing a huge comeback. Contact-free is the new watchword and so motion-activated everything is a big part of the new normal. Motion-activated doors help to reduce that high-touch-traffic on door handles and rails. Motion-activated sanitiser dispensers allow everyone to keep their hands clean without touching the same button surface over and over. Expect to see motion-detecting break room, bathroom, and equipment upgrades to reduce touch-traffic and exposure risk for teams across industries.
Reopening the workplaces has become a big step in rebuilding our new-normal. More and more people are able to return to the offices and venues where they work, but only after new policies have been implemented to keep the team safe. The more high-tech your building or the more your region is at-risk, the more likely you will see one or more of these new and innovative ways to ensure the team’s COVID-safety.
For more insights into how the business world is changing in the face of today’s safety and cleaning requirements, contact us today