May 12, 2020

COVID-19 Tech: Am I Safe Here?

[3.5 Minute Read] 

Leaders are challenged like never before, balancing the safety of customers and employees with the needs of the business. 

As our re-entry story unfolds, we know employees are wondering what measures their organization will take to ensure their workplace is safe. Customers and staff members are not coming back without assurances anytime soon. 

The workplace technology industry is no stranger to complex problems. We have safety solutions to secure our spaces from unwanted trespassers, vandals, thieves, and even active shooters. We now turn our sights to protect against the unseen, unheard, and yet to be understood enemy, the novel coronavirus. 

OSHA “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” highlights a framework called the “hierarchy of controls”  as the best way of mitigating workplace hazards like the coronavirus.

Optimally, the guidance says we would “systematically remove it from the workplace,” but as we know, this is may not be possible with COVID-19. So our alternative is to find solutions that help in reducing exposure.

In other words, we may not be able to stop COVID-19 from spreading in our spaces, but we can deploy controls to slow its reach. ASD® is working with many clients through the re-entry planning process. We are encouraging them to reflect on five critical questions: 

  1. Which touchless technology systems makes sense for our business?
  2. What can we do to detect and prevent symptomatic people from entering our space?
  3. When are fundamental changes for space utilization like entry, pathway, or density required? 
  4. Where should we monitor 6-foot physical distancing?
  5. How can we integrate technology to automate processes (i.e., space disinfection)?

We believe that leading IoT sensors, people counting, access control, and video management systems already have the tech we need to get the job done and help with returning to work post COVID-19. Those focused on hands free collaboration and room occupancy in commercial AV are poised for this moment. Forward-thinking manufacturers with easy to leverage APIs can now work together to enhance occupational safety.

This expedites a shift in thinking from traditional, isolated, technology built to solve a specific problem, to a new wave of agile technology created to enable inside space ecosystems.

Traditional systems built to be "stand alone" will lose market share to this new way of thinking. In the same way, providers who focus only on one piece of the workplace challenge may also struggle. Adjacent industries must elevate to a new level of collaboration to address this moment.

We need common sense solutions that aren’t budget busting. We need not rush to implement a silver bullet idea that simply does not exist. 

It's time to stand together and move the workplace experience forward.

New wave tech, the digital ceiling, a uniform dashboard for analytics, and workplace AI is not as far away as we may think. Legacy manufacturers will “gradually and then suddenly” vanish (thanks Hemingway) once we collectively embrace the value of agile workplace technology. 

Shouldn't your lights provide comfortable lighting throughout the workday, highlight the path to safety during an emergency, and even sanitize the space with UV light when no one is there? Why wouldn’t your cleaning team be notified to sanitize a space after a meeting is held, or a hoteling desk vacated? 

There are so many cords, do we really need all these cords? If adapters have adapters, isn't there a problem? It's time to go cordless, and cordless is basically the same thing as touchless, right?

(Related: Why Leasing Your Technology is the Future)

The same technology that counts people and provides feedback on space usage works great for ensuring social distancing. Technology that works for COVID-19 demonstrates its inherent flexibility during this crisis. 

What I'm suggesting is simple. Let's use this moment to move the needle. 

We need to stop making safe decisions that don't lead to real safety—it's time to choose the technology for our new norm.

In your review of the CDC guidance to “Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus Disease,” you will see the statement “Be Aware” several times mentioned. Readiness to adapt to new challenges is at the core of next-generation technology solutions. To me, readiness is essential to selecting technology.

COVID tech is ready tech.  

The ASD® platform is about bringing confidence back to workplace technology. Never before has this been so needed. We would like to know what you are thinking and what you think works best for your environment. Please send us your feedback and let us know your thoughts as to the best next steps. Partners, manufacturers, and collaborators are welcome.

Webinar: Cloud-Based Security for Safer Reopening

About the author 

Mike Castiglione

Michael is the Chief Operating Officer at ASD®. He has more than a decade of experience in the workplace technology space. His oversight includes management of ASD® operations, development of the ASD® cloud platform OMNI, and key initiatives to continuously improve the ASD® client experience.

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