With the pandemic raging on for over a year, with no end in sight, businesses have begun strategizing to incorporate safe return to work practices. According to a recent report published by CB Insights, two thirds of workers in the US are reluctant to return to on-sight office spaces despite the advantages of collaboration and social connection provided by in-person work.
To assuage these fears, enterprises are increasingly adopting AI driven solutions in areas of wellness screening, autonomous cleaning and sanitizing of workspaces as well as cyber security, to ensure a safe and effective return to work.
CBI Insights has developed an insightful roadmap below, highlighting employees’ new tech-enabled journey, which hints at what future office workspaces would look like. This includes a set of approaches that enterprises can deploy to minimize health and safety risks for employees through various technology solutions.
- Pre-entry wellness checks
- Touch-less entry
- Social distancing sensors
- Remote collaboration tools
- Autonomous cleaning solutions
- Low-tech and voice enabled technology
- Employee wellness, communication, and engagement tools
- Cyber-security and at-home network security
Source: CB Insights
Putting Pre-entry Wellness Checks at the forefront of safe return to work
Lobbies and building entrances are the first point of contact for visitors and employees and thus require a complete procedural overhaul. Many companies have already piloted applications that screen employees before they arrive at work. Safe2Work is one such risk prevention platform that assists to contain the spread of the coronavirus and safeguard organizations from infection. It utilizes non-proprietary consumer devices to provide access to both automated real-time infection screening and 24/7 monitoring of key biometrics such as Heart Rate, HRV, SpO2, and Body Temperature. Based on its results, Safe2Work advises whether an employee can safely return to work, should quarantine or needs to contact a health provider.
Other solutions developed by UK and Germany based companies, are proposing the use of immunity passports, which would tie the official COVID-19 test result to a user’s digital identity.
Contactless wellness checks are likely to be deployed at office entry-points as well. For this purpose, companies can not only use contactless thermometers but also applications like vEYEtals. This unique smartphone app uses tablet or smartphone cameras in ‘selfie’ mode to detect the area just beneath the eyes within 30 seconds. With its proprietary AI, vEYEtals can detect with high accuracy the Heart Rate (HR), Heart Rate Variability(HRV), Oxygen Saturation (O2), Respiratory Rate and Mental Stress Levels of an individual. By taking advantage of cloud computing, the app has been designed to be lightweight and easily integratabtle within other platforms.
Deploying an app like Veyetals at entry kiosks can ensure that visitors and employees can safely enter the workplace, without endangering themselves and others.
Why these technological interventions are necessary
In the US alone, poor employee health costs organizations a whopping $530 billion annually, a significant chunk of which can be mitigated through the effective management of illness or virus transmission. Through the constant and consistent collection and monitoring of employee health data, businesses can deploy targeted initiatives to improve employee health and, consequently, raise productivity.
Benefits of deploying pre-entry checks for employers:
By employing a meticulous tech-driven approach to workplace screening, businesses can render the following benefits:
- In case an employee fails the pre-entry screening before leaving for work, they can avoid the inconvenience of coming to work and later being turned away.
- Having all the relevant screening and safety protocols in place allows employees to feel secure in their office environment, building their trust in the employer as well.
- Managers can also access this employee health information on their dashboard to better plan for absences and adjust floor and seating plans, to ensure work safety and efficiency.
With vaccines distribution underway, COVID-19 will eventually cease to be the top health concern for employers and employees alike. With that, the use of temperature checks and health surveys will also dimmish. Yet, the use of rich biometric data is likely to stay, allowing employers to plan for flu seasons and trigger alerts in case multiple employees come in with elevated temperatures. Undoubtedly, there are barriers to adoption given the privacy concerns. However, with effective cybersecurity policies and procedures in place, the benefits of adopting these wellness technologies will likely outweigh the risks and the challenges in the future.
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A niche IT solutions and professional services provider, Markitech is a digital transformation company based in the US and Canada, with software engineers and data scientists primarily focused on developing artificial intelligence (AI) applications for the healthcare and telecommunications industries.
We provide services such as custom application development and prototypes, innovative end-to-end solutions leveraging AI/5G/Cloud/IoT, creative UI/UX designs, iOS/Android mobile, web and wearable app development and staff augmentation tools and training programs. Markitech has completed several game changing solutions including SenSights.ai, Safe2work.ai, vEYEtals, YourDoctors.Online, Signia, and many more.
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Contributor: Mariam Javed