Connected Environments Means Safer Workplaces

As pandemic-induced lockdowns lift, businesses are getting ready to transition their remote workforce back to offices. But to enable a smooth and productive return, employee concerns around safety and security need to be addressed. Technology-based solutions can help companies keep ‘safety and security’ at the core of their back-to-work strategies while powering the long-term digital transformation journey. Cloud-based solutions and the IoT network, for instance, can bring in end-to-end visibility and control, securing workplaces and also making them future-ready. AI and analytics, on the other hand, will add efficiency and precision to workplace security.

Here are some ways, companies can harness technology for creating safe and secure workplaces:

Enable easy and safe access

Access systems powered by IoT solutions and machine learning can help monitor employee movement within office premises without manual intervention. The use of cloud-based mobile access control or the use of beacons for access can ensure a touch-free and convenient entrance.   
For instance, you can replace the popular touch-based biometric identification with contact-less alternatives, such as face recognition, hand scanners or phone-based access. This is an instance of how near field communication technology can be used along with mobile-based applications to enable low- touch entry points, within workplaces.  

Monitor health parameters of employees

As the pace of remote working picks up, monitoring the well-being of employees is critical for organizations to continue business uninterrupted. Companies can use in-house or third-party applications that are built to track employee health and ensure contact tracing. Recording and analyzing this data will help businesses spot potential health risks and respond accordingly, based on protocols. 

Equip facility managers to monitor workplaces

Company management can gain access to a unified dashboard view of safety compliance and employee density at the workplace. This means that with a single glance, managers can gain insights about safety compliance level and the status of workspace utilization.

Sensors within offices, mounted on multiple fixtures can map staff movement and help in contact tracing. This system, prevalent in some companies in Japan, uses a set of motion sensors that communicate to Bluetooth beacons embedded on employees’ wearables. 

Communicate to enforce and encourage adherence to safety protocols

Meeting regulations and safety protocols within companies can be hassle-free when workers are adequately informed and reminded of them. Modern workplaces leverage digital signages and similar channels as a means to communicate with employees on important safety protocols that need to be followed and any new workplace policies that may be in effect. This sort of communication can be backed on an integrated network of digital communication and content management systems. 

The potential of 5G wireless network is promising in this regard and will offer a reliable backbone for uninterrupted communication, even in a hybrid workforce model. This means that business leadership and management will be able to seamlessly stream communication to in-office and remote workers simultaneously, using connected devices -- mobile, tablet or laptops-- with uniform efficiency, at high speed. 

Enable crisis response

If there has been risky contact within the office premises, having a speedy communication system that is wirelessly integrated across the company helps businesses to respond promptly. A swift response system can promptly respond by isolating incidents and taking remedial action. A robust network helps track visitor and employee movement within the office to enable this.

A recent McKinsey paper prescribed the formation of a nerve centre that will coordinate immediate crisis response in the case of risks posed by Corona. Such a coordinated effort calls for various Industry 4.0 technologies to come into play, as applicable. For instance, in a manufacturing plant, the use of connected and intelligent wearables that can communicate to the operations control room to solicit quick action by supervisors is a plausible solution for crisis response.  

Customize workplace safety

Businesses can collaborate with the right technology partner to get customized solutions for specific use cases.  For instance, a contextual and customized safety solution can be tuned to build intelligence into workspace monitoring and management to meet business goals in a hassle-free and non-intrusive way. 

The first step is to break down the back-to-work strategy into a detailed plan of action, spell out the priorities and immediate challenges in implementation. The next step involves choosing the mix of solutions and technologies that best meet your business goals. 

When it comes to bolstering safety features at workplaces, there's no place to second guess. By embracing IoT and Industry 4.0 technologies, businesses can make sure safety norms are in place while enhancing workplace productivity.