Safety in the office has never been more important. With many employers planning a return to the office, let’s ensure that both goals – office reopening and employee safety – are met.
Employees want to come back to the office
I used to work in sales at a shooting range. Being a firearms instructor myself, I taught people how to use real guns – and how to do it safely. Today I apply this experience in the office environment. Because no matter where you work, safety always comes first.
A recent survey by Eden Workplace found that 85 percent of office workers want to return to the office. Of those surveyed, 61 percent want their employers to strictly enforce Covid related workplace rules. 71 percent expect free hand sanitizer and company provided masks.
It’s clear that after a year of working mostly remotely, people miss their colleagues and interactions. But how can we make those interactions safe?
Safety meets technology
Let’s break down the office into four areas that need attention when it comes to security, and look at possible technology-based solutions.
The first area is the entrance and lobby. Here, a temperature scanner can be installed or the receptionist can check the temperature with a contactless thermometer. Or you can go a step further and install a “health entry kiosk”, where employees are scanned and given a QR code depending on their health status.
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York, for example, uses Clear biometric identity platform to screen its 450 employees and contractors. Salesforce and Siemens Smart Infrastructure use a similar solution, provided by Work.com. Through this tool, employees complete a “daily wellness check-in survey”.
The second field that requires special attention is the elevator area. In some Chinese shopping malls, elevators are already foot-operated. In others, Ultraleap’s Virtual Touch allows users to use elevator panels and interactive kiosks with touchless gesture control.
Touchless technology could also be useful for door opening. Domino’s Pizza uses the Openpath app in its offices and restaurants. Employees can open a door with a wave of their hand or simply with a phone in their pocket, even if they’re carrying an armful of hot food.
Other apps that allow you to open doors with your smartphone include Proxy (deployed in Canva’s Beijing offices), and Kisi, used by SkyScanner.
So in the first stages of office return, you might want to reduce occupancy. If you want to enforce social distancing, apps can count people’s density in the office. Tools like Density, Jarvis, or Zensors monitor the number of employees in real time and send alerts when a certain area is overcrowded.
Other apps can be useful to book conference rooms. SpaceOs helps to manage workspace capacity and adjust desk availability, while a software platform Robin offers a system where employees can book conference rooms according to social distancing guidelines.
Finally, there are bathroom and kitchen areas that need to be kept hygienic. Nanoseptic makes self-cleaning surfaces with nanocrystals that create a strong oxidation reaction, and Sanitizit offers a quick-drying disinfectant that is safe for food preparation. UV Angel, which recently partnered with McDonalds, offers UV based germ control technology to clean air and surfaces. And if you’d like to add a cleaning station for your employees’ mobile phones, Glissner or CleanSlate UV may be just what you’re looking for.
As for the kitchen, Sensory offers a voice-controlled technology to operate kitchen appliances without touching handles or knobs. Imagine a microwave that opens itself and heats the food simply at the sound of your voice.
Serviced offices on the rise
I’ve only mentioned a fraction of apps and solutions available, and every day we hear about the new ones. But what if you didn’t have to research and test them yourself? What if someone else planned and implemented reliable regulations in your office?
When Covid-19 hit, serviced and flex space managers quickly implemented advanced solutions to all safety needs. Some of the desks and rooms were shut down from daily work. Disinfectant, gloves, and masks popped up all over the common areas. Increased cleaning services and better air quality systems were introduced.
As a result, the employers didn’t have to spend time and money counting square feet and rearranging the space. They could focus on something even more important.
If you’re an employer, the mental health of your team should be a top priority. If people are to come back to the office, they need to feel comfortable and emotionally taken care of.
Months of remote work and online schooling have not been a walk in the park for most of us. We have experienced the uncertainty about the future, the blurring lines between work and free time, professional burnout, anxiety, and depression – especially those of us who have lost someone close because of Covid.
Companies that feel responsible for their employees are turning their attention to supporting people’s wellbeing. They provide support through mental check-ins, free psychological consultations, or more flexibility in the workplace.
This may be a demanding task, as, on the one hand, some people underestimate the severity of the virus, while others drift into political discussion. In these circumstances empathy is crucial, but so is good communication and education – people need to know why they have to comply with all the rules and regulations.
So if you would like to fully address your employees wellbeing needs, maybe you should let someone else tackle the essentials of a safe office space? Be it the office or a shooting range – when people feel safe, they trust you. And trust helps you build something more – a complex mental wellness environment where people feel better and work better.
Contact us to use our free advisory service and we’ll help you find a safe office so you can focus on your business. And even if you’re still leasing a traditional office space, we can help you set it up better, and provide an analysis of available options.