When COVID-19 hit the workforce full-force back in March, many businesses were forced to quickly transition to working remotely. If your office was anything like ours, the switch happened overnight, and your employees learned to adapt slowly but surely. And now that the number of Coronavirus cases are declining, and people and companies are getting more comfortable with the idea of returning to work, many are beginning to formulate their back-to-work plan.
However, unlike when the “work from home” orders were given, returning to work will likely not be such a drastic and immediate transition. It’s not a light switch that has just been turned on. It’s more of a dimmer switch.
In order to maintain the health and safety of our employees and our office spaces, the return to work must be done slowly and in a different way than we’re used to navigating within our own businesses. The level of awareness around germ spread and cleanliness has officially been elevated, and a lot of the changes that will be reflected around that awareness will remain for some time.
So today, we’re going to walk through six different tools and tips that you can implement into your office space, short and long-term, in order to set your office (and employees) up for health and success when you return to work.
1. Thermal Scanners
One of the first health measures that essential business put into place when working throughout COVID-19 was temperature screenings for all employees. This became the minimum gate for entering the facility; ensuring that any person who entered the building was not running a fever or could possibly endanger their fellow workers by coming into the building. And now that businesses are re-opening and more and more employees are returning to work, the process of scanning employees’ temperatures is becoming more automated through the use of stand-alone thermal scanners.
There are several different thermal scanning products on the market. We here at Bluewater offer several products from our partners that can easily hang on the wall or be mounted on a stand. We also have created our own thermal scanning device that uses the same technology as other products but is housed in a beautiful wood casing so that it blends into your office space and looks like a nice piece of furniture. This will help to elevate your lobby or office facilities, so it doesn’t feel like an obvious medical device is front-and-center of your space when employees or visitors walk in.
These self-standing units are a huge upgrade from simply having one of your employees take the temperature of everyone who visits, because it ensures that everyone can stay 6 feet apart, and does not require anyone to get within close proximity to take a temperature. For more information on Bluewater’s thermal temperature scanners, be sure to visit our thermal temperature scanner products page to see the full offering.
2. Digital Signage
Now, digital signage is something that many companies have been using for a while – perhaps in the lobby as a monitor, or throughout the office to display important announcements or upcoming dates. But digital signage is also the perfect way to communicate to your employees and entire office space in a quick and efficient way. For example, if you need to quickly spread safety or evacuation information, or any kind of critical workplace messaging. By placing digital signage in main locations throughout your workspace, you can choreograph how your employees or customers move in an emergency, or can even target different areas of your office with unique messaging – such as sending separate communication to the first floor and the second floor. Contact us to learn more about our digital signage offering, including our subscription based service design to avoid large capital expenditures in the wake of Covid.
The software and systems that are happening behind the scenes can easily coordinate which content is displayed where, and it is totally controlled by a member of your staff.
3. Density Guards
One thing that we are currently working through in the event space is how to reclassify large spaces to accommodate the proper amount of people, as instructed by the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization. A conference room or event space that may have been originally intended for 1,000 people may now be classified as an appropriate space for 100 or 200 people. So, we’re starting to see these bigger spaces house less density just to ensure that there is not any crowding that could potentially spread viruses.
Putting density guards in place can help to keep overcrowding under control. Some events or meeting spaces are pivoting to a bring-your-own-device solution, where attendees can check-in or reserve their place right on their phone, and can also fill out a health screening survey beforehand to ensure that they will be safely entering the facility.
There are also a few products that you can integrate right into the workplace which act as density guards, such as WaitTime. The product basically works like an advanced webcam system that is mounted to your ceiling and uses highly technical algorithms to watch traffic patterns and density within a space. They do not collect any kind of personally identifiable information – but they do give you incredible insight into how many people are walking around a specific facility, or even on a certain floor within your office space. You can use the product to receive data on how well employees are social distancing in certain areas or even see if there is somewhere in your office that serves as a traffic hot spot and might need to be rearranged or readjusted to fit within proper social distancing protocol.
Another basic density guard that you can install in your facilities right away is acrylic space shields. Our retail division has already been providing these acrylic density guards to retail and office spaces, and they work perfectly for guarding against germ spread while also allowing for the visible line of sight that you would want in a collaborative space. Bluewater and our partner WaitTime, offers a vast array of solutions for your needs, whether they be in office, at retail, or even in a venue or arena space.
4. Video Conferencing
When businesses shifted to the remote workforce a few months ago, the level of productivity and efficiency among employees seemed to be split right down the middle. Some employees discovered that they thrive when managing their own schedule, while others greatly missed the routine and collaboration of heading into the office. Whichever side of the fence your employees fall, it’s important that, going forward, your office conference rooms are equipped to handle remote workers and virtual meetings, and that you have the technology in place to accomplish the needs of both successfully.
The key to successful remote collaboration is to set up technology in the office and in your employees’ homes in order to make this happen successfully – especially at the beginning of this back-to-work transition when density issues are something that is on your radar.
Bluewater has been helping many companies over the last couple of months transition both their large conference rooms and smaller meeting rooms into video-enabled conferencing rooms, so that the conversation is flawless and easy, whether employees are in the room or working remotely. We’ve also put together work-from-home kits for our own employees that include everything from lighting and audio equipment, to an all-in-one stand that offers everything you need for quality video conferencing or streaming from home. Learn more here.
5. Touchless Displays
We talked about digital signage a little bit above, but one important factor that can take your signage efforts to the next level is upgrading them to a touchless display. This can be handled in several different ways, from gesture-based movements or voice-enabled controls that allow employees and visitors to interact with a digital screen without ever having to touch it. You could also incorporate the bring-your-own-device concept into digital displays, by having people scan a QR code in order to bring up a menu of options that they can control or interact with on their phone.
6. AV as a Service
As we’ve mentioned above, there are many ways that AV can be brought into your workplace facilities in order to better communicate between remote and in-person teams, and help to keep your in-person teams safe and healthy while they are in the office. These uses of AV bring us to one last capability that we here at Bluewater have had around for a while, which is AV as a Service.
So, what typically happens when a company wants to bring in a large upgrade of AV equipment into their space is that they must make a large investment in technology – it becomes a capital expense. But what happens with AV as a Service is that we switch AV from being a capital expense to an operating expense, which allows businesses to invest their dollars in a very different way. Instead of making that up-front investment, you’re able to switch to a three- or four-year subscription where you can swap out old equipment and upgrade to the best technology on a regular basis, all for the same monthly fee. Now you get the latest and greatest technology, without it ever having to depreciate, all for a smaller monthly fee, which also includes maintenance, trouble shooting, and AV protection. This type of subscription also allows you to invest in other areas of your business which you might not have been able to before, because you didn’t make this large investment at once.
Bluewater is one of few companies in the entire industry that is doing AV as a Service effectively, and we are seeing this service help out a lot of companies in a tremendous way so that they can make the technology investments they need while also getting back to work as effectively as possible.
To learn more about Bluewater’s wide range of Back-to-Work Offerings, be sure to get in touch today so we can design a workplace strategy that works best for your company and employees.
For more on workplace re-entry be sure to check out our on demand video that offers tools, tips, and tricks. Additionally, be sure to sign-up and not miss out on our next webinar!