The Digital Transformation Guide to Safely Reopening Workplaces

There is also a need to maintain a ratio between employees working from home and those coming back to work. It would require making spaces flexible to ensure there is a gradual and phased approach to the workplace reopening.


There have been attempts to reopen workplaces. However, due to the lack of procedures and processes for workplace safety, some offices were ordered to cease operations. Businesses need to ensure their workplace is compliant and safe. Businesses should be equipped with a business continuity plan, which allows for the managing of the workforce, workplace safety, implementing safe distancing measures, adhering to the latest government regulations, and managing space and facilities. Employees and stakeholders would only feel reassured when safety practices are implemented. Communication plays a vital role during this transition, as well. Creating an open channel of communication allows a sense of accountability to foster within the workplace community. There is also a need to maintain a ratio between employees working from home and those coming back to work. It would require making spaces flexible to ensure there is a gradual and phased approach to the workplace reopening.

Addressing Safety and Compliance at the ‘New’ Workplace

Business leaders concur that the ways of working have changed, and digital transformation will lead the way to accommodate this big shift. The “new normal” can be characterized by two facets: ‘Safety and Wellness’ and ‘Flexible Working’ in offices. Only with the right technology can these be introduced while giving them the confidence to the workforce that sufficient measures have been taken for their safety. It is crucial for organizations to be transparent about safety initiatives introduced. For instance, when a table or seat was used last when it was sanitized, whether people entering the workplace are healthy and so on. It can be achieved by introducing a simple single interface for employees to access all this information at run-time. Employees should be able to access information, such as safety initiatives, announcements, seat bookings, or availability of sanitized meeting rooms and make a health declaration easily on their smartphones.

Business leaders will need to relook their operations for a scalable and reliable means to manage employees working from multiple locations and those coming to work at flexible hours. For facility managers, the information has to be available on a screen to know if people adhere to mandated building capacity, screening all employees and visitors, sanitization schedule, etc. Managing this increased communication with all stakeholders can be made simple and efficient through a single integrated technology solution used at all levels.

Maintaining Efficiency at the Workspace

Organizations will need to reduce costs since space and facility management make up their second-largest expense for most companies. With AI-based technologies like seat and space management, companies can reduce their overall space cost by 20-30 percent. With a possibility of only 10-70 percent of the workforce returning to offices in a phased manner, businesses can finally implement a completely flexible model for their employees.

The current situation also unlocks potential value for real estate managers who can explore multiple ways to manage an employee’s work location with flexibility becoming the norm. Real estate managers can introduce staggered work hours and flexible team rosters. They can offer multiple office locations and allow some employees to work from the office. They can empower managers with tools for team distributions. For seat management, the real estate managers will need visibility on floor plans to allocate and manage seats while adhering to the latest social distancing norms.

However, this dynamic system with employee information, floor and seating plans, manager controls for intra-team allocation and facilities team synchronization cannot be done manually. We will need a robust integrated technology that lets you manage and control these multitudes of information levers. When topped with the AI layer, the real estate team also gets insights on what is best suited to minimize space costs and increase efficiency.

What Your Digital Intervention Should Look Like

Here is the checklist of what the digital intervention would look like for workplace safety and management:

1. Workplace Entry for Employees and Visitors

○ The contactless entry process for entry and exit

○ Digital log for contact tracing

○ Health declaration for all employees

○ Temperature logs

2. Seat Management

○ In accordance with social distancing norms

○ Desk allocation system

○ Work location status of employees

○ Desk & seat sanitization status

○ People finder

3. Meeting Room Booking

○ Sanitization status

○ Room capacity control

4. Cafeteria

○ Pre-order meal to limit footfall

○ Contactless digital payments

○ Queue Length Management

5. Community & Conveniences

○ Transparent processes about sanitization

○ Emergency hotline

○ Centralized announcements

○ Events and workshops

If you can check all the boxes above, especially on one streamlined technology platform, welcome to the future of the workplace!

How to Know If You Have Chosen the Right Technology

Technology will be the mainstay of the new normal. And as we introduce new technological solutions, it is also important not to overburden employees with too many apps, screens, and dashboards. The mobile phone is easiest to access and should be the primary platform for employees. The team managing the solution should have a view of all interventions on a single integrated platform. Controls and dashboard on one platform not only enhance productivity but also give an enhanced view of the interplay between multiple features introduced.

Additionally, the technology has to be easy to deploy at your workplace while bringing onboard your employees and stakeholders. It can be assessed by the estimated time taken to deploy and the readiness of the solution to be plugged into your digital environment. It has to be fully integrated into commonly used enterprise solutions, such as email authentication, calendars, HR directory, WiFi networks, building control systems, elevators, and many more. As you give access to these, the security and privacy of data must be looked into. Finally, let's not miss out that we are doing all this to create an engaging and safe environment for the employees. The front end of the technology has to bring out happiness and positivity in the workplace.

To conclude, the silver lining in these tough times has been the reinforcement of the real power of human interaction. We appreciate now, more than ever, how peer-to-peer interaction is very important for us, and we cannot do away with offices completely. We will need to adapt to responsibly living with COVID-19. Businesses that use technology to reinvent themselves during this phase will emerge as winners.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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