How Digital Solutions Provide a Route Back to Work in Large-Scale Numbers

14 May 2020

For many parts of the world, the time has come to start getting people back to work.

 

COVID 19 has wreaked havoc on economies and left millions of people stuck at home, and until a vaccination is found, it’s unlikely we’ll get back to anything like normal. However, businesses can’t sit around and wait forever, and the time has come where it’s deemed safe to start opening large sectors of the economy for businesses again.

 

Each government will have its own guidelines for how to do this, but they’re all faced with the same questions “how do we safely get people back to work?”

 

The answer will be different for every company, but those that answer the question best are likely to find they have the most success at getting their business back on track.

 

So, what will businesses “back to work” strategies look like, and how will digital solutions play into them?

 

 

1. Back to Work Starts with a COVID-19 Risk Assessment


 

The COVID-19 pandemic presents one of the biggest risks to businesses since the Second World War, and we’re not going to successfully navigate through it without a well thought out plan.

 

However, some surveys are showing that just 10% of executives have undertaken extensive planning on how they’re going to guide their business through these difficult times.

 

Every business is unique and is going to face different challenges in getting people back to work. There is no one size fits all plan, so business leaders are going to have to look at their own businesses in great detail and find ways to get things moving forwards again.

 

How successful each company is at reintegrating its employees into working life could make or break the business, so all options should be on the table. This might mean large scale changes to infrastructure and the way your business operates, but it could be what’s required to reignite your operations.

 

One important thing to remember with your COVID-19 risk assessment is that you’re going to need the buy-in of your employees if you’re going to get people back to work in reasonable numbers. This means workers and trade unions have to be kept in the loop at all stages of the process.

 

How Can Digital Solutions Help?

 

With strict limitations placed on face-to-face interactions, technology is needed to fill the communication gap. In some ways, we are lucky that this pandemic hit at a time when we have a wealth of technological solutions available to us.

 

 

Questions that will be raised during your risk assessment such as “how to effectively stagger work times to encourage social distancing” can be answered by technology, so it’s important you look into the technological options available to you.

 

2. Remember the Human Aspect of Going Back to Work


 

At the beginning of the year, it was absolutely incomprehensible that entire nations could be locked down for months at a time. Now, the reality is many workers will be wondering how they can feel safe going back to work.

 

These are legitimate concerns; as of right now, over 4 million people worldwide have been infected with Coronavirus, with nearly 300,000 people dying.

 

People are going to be nervous about coming back to work, and in order for your business to get back to (something like) normal, you’re going to have to convince them that you’re doing everything you can to ensure their safety. This is going to take good communication, but it’s also going to need you to take tangible steps to show employees that you’re taking this seriously.

 

How Can Digital Solutions Help

 

Digital solutions such as Personnel Management Kiosks that use temperature verification to check workers in and out of work offer your employees immediate affirmation that you’re doing everything you can to ensure their safety.

 

Man using face recognition temperature measurement

 

Getting people back to work is about ensuring a safe working environment, but it’s also about reassuring your staff that it’s a safe place to be and digital solutions such as personnel management kiosks can do this from the moment your employees walk through the door.

 

The UK government has stated that “defining process alternatives for entry/exit points

where appropriate” is going to be an important step in creating a safe environment, and a temperature verification personnel management kiosk is the perfect solution to this issue.

 

3. Work from Home is Still Going to be Important


 

The ability of your workers to work effectively from home is still going to be vitally important to your business success.

 

As much as you want to get people back to work, you need to ensure you’re creating a safe space for your employees, which means limiting the number of people in your offices/warehouses/factories/building site to the most essential workers.

 

If someone can work from home, then they should work from home, and if you’re investing in your software, then this shouldn’t be a problem.

 

Lockdowns are likely to be loosened and relaxed on a rolling basis depending on the spread of the virus, so just because people can come to work today doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed they can in two weeks time.

 

Likewise, there’s still the potential for some of your key employees to have to go into self-isolation. That could mean one of your most important workers feels perfectly healthy but can’t come to work for 7-14 days.

 

You’ve got to have a “plan B” for these situations and a good work from home setup is important. Workers can be even more efficient when working from home, but you’ve got to make sure they have the right tools to do it.

 

How Can Digital Solutions Help?

 

If people are to carry out work efficiently from home, then they’ve got to have access to everything they have in the office. If they don’t have this ability, then it quickly becomes difficult to carry out their jobs.

 

94% of businesses use a cloud service, but that 6% stills leaves plenty of businesses struggling to effectively enable remote working.

 

For the majority of businesses that do use cloud technology, it’s about finding ways to maximise the collaboration of remote workers and make work from home as easy as possible. The only way to do this is by improving your use of digital technology.

 

4. 2m Social Distancing is Here to Stay

 

The social distancing rules that we have all become accustomed to are going to play a big part in getting people back to work. Wherever possible, it’s vitally important that workers can maintain a 2m distance between each other.

 

You can see how some of the businesses like supermarkets who have stayed open throughout the lockdown have implemented simple measures such as one-way walkthroughs, but one of the big problems is when everyone all turns up for work at the same time.

 

Staggered start times and different shift patterns will be key to maintaining social distancing, but this will take a lot of coordination. You still have a duty to know who is in the building at any given time, so businesses need to find efficient ways of managing their personnel.

 

Maintaining social distancing becomes much more problematic when face-to-face interactions are required, so this is where creative digital solutions can fill the void.

 

How Can Digital Solutions Help?

 

Sanitary self-service kiosks can help eliminate the need for face-to-face human contact in a variety of situations and help businesses organise the workforce more efficiently.

 

Personnel management systems can help check workers in at the right time whilst simultaneously checking them for COVID symptoms, and antimicrobial screen protectors ensure digital solutions don’t spread the virus.

 

One of the difficulties with handheld temperature scanners is that it’s hard to maintain a safe distance because nobody has 2m long arms! However, by combining temperature scanners with facial recognition, social distancing can be maintained.

 

To maintain 2m distances between workers, innovative solutions such as these are going to have to be deployed in lots of different areas.

 

5. Social Distancing Isn’t Always Going to be Possible

 

There are some industries where keeping workers 2 metres apart just isn’t feasible. In these cases, alternative arrangements will have to be made to keep employees safe.

 

The key is to limit the number of people each person is coming into contact with, and one of the best ways to do this is through shift patterns. Face-to-face interactions should be limited as much as possible, but at least if you have your employees working in small teams, you’re limiting the number of different people an infected employee might be exposed to.

 

Other simple steps such as putting up barriers between workstations, making sure workers are faced away from each other rather than face-to-face, and reinforcing cleaning practices can all make a difference to the safety of your working environment.

 

How Can Digital Solutions Help?

 

With limited human contact, communication becomes more challenging, and you’ve got to find new ways of making sure everyone’s on the same page. If you don’t have the right communication systems in place, then it’s easy for your messaging to become confusing and for employees to be left in limbo.

 

Managing your communication through the right software such as your human resource management system will be key to getting the most out of your workforce whilst still ensuring their safety.

 

6. Reinforce Cleaning

 

It’s as yet unclear how long the Coronavirus can live on surfaces, so any efforts to return people to work must include reinforced cleaning practices.

 

Hand washing stations or hand sanitisers should be conveniently placed throughout the workplace and high contact objects need to be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. There are going to be limitations to what you can do, as you can’t clean every single surface every time someone touches it, but you can take active steps towards limiting your employees’ exposure.

 

How Can Digital Solutions Help?

 

Meridian is working to make sure its digital solutions are as sanitary as possible. Our solutions come with the ability to integrate UVC germ-killing devices, facial recognition software that limits touch points, and anti-microbial screen protectors.

 

Digital solutions can help us solve many of the questions that COVID is forcing us to ask, but it can only do that if the products offer sanitary solutions that are safe as well as practical.

 

Takeaways

 

Governments might be starting to encourage employees back to work, but we’re still far from all systems go. The guidelines are now in place for businesses to follow, but how effectively you work with them is what’s going to decide your level of success in getting people back to work and your business moving forwards again.

 

Effective planning and the implementation of basic health and safety measures are going to play an important part in creating a safe environment for your employees to work in, but digital solutions are also going to play a big role.

 

The technology is out there to help us guide our businesses through these trying times, but you’ve got to be active and embrace it in order to get the most out of it.

 

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