In Part 1 of this blog we discussed how utilizing technology will be a crucial aspect of returning your employees to work whether using simple spreadsheets and diagrams or procuring and implementing new hardware and software solutions. From initial preparation to execution and ongoing monitoring, there are several technology options to consider in the process. For the first 2 technology options read Part 1 .
2). Workplace Preparation
3). Communication + Execution
Now that a plan is in place, how do facilities get the right message across to employees to make them comfortable with the new workplace?
Since the use of the workplace is limited, it is important to establish well-documented policies readily available for employees for areas such as:
- Workstation Use
- Meeting Room Use
- Safety Measures
Technology can play a role here by encouraging the continued (and sometimes preferred) use of virtual meetings such as Microsoft Teams as is being done from home. Note that some hardware accessories may also be needed for personnel when back in the office such as noise-canceling headphones and computer cameras.
In addition, normal activities such as the signing of paper documents can be switched to online electronic signature platforms such as DocuSign to promote a touchless environment.
In addition to documented policies, personnel must also be aware of instructions and compliance requirements while in the workplace. Clear branding of signage (e.g., colors, images) should be prominently and frequently displayed in the facility. An occupant must know where and how to get to and use certain spaces that now have restrictions.
Technology can play a role here in a few areas that help to keep them compliant with requirements:
- People-SensorsOverhead people-sensing cameras such as those from Hella Aglaia can use geofencing to count when a person goes in or out of a room. Together with touchless display solutions, this can dynamically display the current status of room occupancy. Originally set up for conference room use analytics, this technology can be repurposed to display counts of employees in a restroom to let a person know when it is safe to enter.
- View of Available SpacesHaving a view of available space place allows employees to instantly know what spaces are safe for them to use. The FMS:Employee hoteling solution features a map view that indicated which spaces are available for reservation and which are not. This floorplan view can be shown on a monitor in the lobby of the building, so employees know immediately which spaces are safe or they can be viewed and reserved on their own personal mobile device.
4). Ongoing Monitoring
It is a safe bet that the plan and execution of the new workplace are not going to go perfectly as planned. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you monitor how you are doing and to make adjustments as necessary.
Attendance + Utilization
At some level, you will want to monitor how many people are coming to the building on a given day as you will likely have a maximum capacity limit in place that may change over time. This attendance can be taken manually from the security team as part of a screening process, or you can leverage technology to help in:
- On-Site AttendanceSecurity badging systems can often provide output for badge swipes at the facility. Most systems will support a data export, but some such as S2 Security will even allow for direct API access. This data makes it easy in FMS:Workplace to view a report on building occupant attendance at any time as well as review it for a department or individual person.
- Utilization SensorsOccupancy sensors such as those offered in the FMS:Analytics platform offer “spatial forensics” in the ability to track workspace and common area space use within a building, even in real-time. Sensor data can be supplemented with existing systems such as security badging, room reservations, and Wi-Fi networks to report on space use and mobility information such as:
- Average & Peak Workspace Utilization
- Employee Mobility Flows
- Meeting Room Utilization
- Floor & Zone Heat Maps
- Departmental Utilization & Mobility
In the event of a person contracting COVID-19 that has been to the workplace, you will need to attempt to retrace who the person has been in contact with and where they have been spending time in the facility. The goal is to isolate people in contact and disinfect these areas of the facility to help “break the chain of transmission”.
Technology can be leveraged here at the person-level to track where someone has been going and who they have been in contact with. There are two standout methods currently available for this:
Mobile Phone Tracing
Apple and Google are developing an API for their phones to allow developers to use mobile devices for contact tracing in their Apps. These apps are being developed by private companies as well as countries and local governments to provide a means of contact tracing. Countries such as Australia and Singapore have their own apps that have had success in doing so. The challenge is that the solution relies on phones completely for it to be successful.
To eliminate the dependence on mobile phones, Estimote has created a contact tracing solution using their expertise in Bluetooth beacon technology as part of a wearable solution. They use hardware in the form of one or more wearable devices to not only actively warn when a person is too close to another person, but also the device is constantly logging this information along with spatial data to provide a comprehensive solution to retracing someone activities and interactions. The result is a dashboard with a heat map and a report on a person’s interactions with others that can help in stopping the spread of infection at a facility.
As mentioned, the emotional experience of people returning to the new workplace is important not to forget. To provide the best workplace possible under the circumstances, you will need feedback and information from those who are working in it and looking to be productive.
Technology can help here in the form of simple personnel surveys. There are several easy-to-use survey tools available such as Survey Monkey and Google Forms/Surveys that you can find free and paid versions of online.
The new workplace will be different and pose challenges to be as safe and productive as possible. As a facility manager, there are so many areas to consider in planning and preparing for it. The technology solutions mentioned will hopefully provide some ideas and directions to help in this effort.
Watch the full webcast recording of How Technology Can Help Transition Back to the Workplace>
Written by Dan Lorenz | President of AMS CAD + CAFM Solutions
About AMS CAD + CAFM Solutions
AMS CAD + CAFM Solutions (AMS) is a leading Premier Certified Business Partner with FM:Systems of 18 years that specializes in consulting, design, and implementation of facilities management software and technology solutions. AMS is a full-service, goals-oriented CAFM/IWMS implementer that partners with customers to bring them best-in-class FM applications. Our innovative solutions combined with our industry experience have helped many of FM:Systems’ largest and most successful customers including corporate facilities, pharmaceutical/research companies, higher education campuses, and health care institutions.
For more information visit http://www.amscad.com