Though we’re more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and still battling this “invisible enemy,” there are many positive developments that indicate we may be finally inching closer and closer to some sort of normality. Safe and effective vaccines are here, and we know so much more about how the virus spreads and the high-risk situations it thrives in. Hospitals are much better equipped with treatments and know-how to manage severe symptoms. As cases and deaths across the globe are controlled, it’s only natural to look ahead to the future — and for many people, this means heading back to the office for at least a few days a week if not every day to work.
We’re not out of the coronavirus woods quite yet, but a return to normalcy is on the horizon and hopefully will arrive sooner rather than later. However, there’s still likely to be a period of change or adaptation to help keep everyone as safe as possible from exposure and infection until herd immunity benchmarks are reached allowing the restrictions to be lifted in controlled stages. The impact of these changes or adaptions on the workplace should not be overlooked and will potentially affect business operations forever. In this post, we’re going to cover a number of technologies that workplaces should consider adopting to help get employees back to the office safely. While some of the technologies that we’ll discuss here help reduce touchpoints and manage occupancy to make office life more convenient, you’ll see that they also have a place in a post-COVID world due to numerous other benefits. Here’s a closer look:
3 Technologies Key to Reopening the Office from COVID-19
Arguably, one of the biggest keys to reopening offices both during and after the pandemic is adopting touchless technologies wherever it’s possible. One of the key areas where such technology becomes applicable is when it comes to access control, both at main building entry points and other areas throughout a facility where there is restricted or controlled access. Think about how many people in a normal office setting enter or exit an office or building on a normal business day. There could be hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of employees, clients and business partners coming or going on a daily basis. Take the time now to rethink how they’re gaining access to the facility and if there are ways that the potential touchpoints could be reduced or eradicated.
Mobile credentials are one viable solution that won’t just help make entry or exit to an office safer and touch-free, but more convenient and cost-effective in the longer term by replacing proprietary cards or credentials. Instead of entering a code, swiping a card, pulling a door handle or performing some sort of other activity that involves touching an object used by multiple persons, taking access touchless with NFC-enabled keycards or Bluetooth-enabled software on a device that is unique to a user can help reduce common touchpoints and any germs or bacteria that could spread from them, thereby making access truly hands-free when used with automatic door operators. In addition to health benefits, the hands-free benefits of this type of technology can also offer convenience and safety benefits as well. What’s more, touchless control is as easy to manage from a security standpoint as any other reader technology. Finally, it’s often simple and affordable to upgrade the access control in any facility to touchless systems and many readers have NFC and Bluetooth integration as part of their functionality.
Occupancy Management and Access Control
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, something that will likely be the norm in the near-term is occupancy limits. More than a year into the pandemic, we know that one of the factors that fuels spread is close contact with large crowds of people. Noting this, there’s likely to be a gradual return to the office environment until we as a society reach the herd immunity levels that experts say are necessary to resume our everyday normal activities. However, controlling how many people are entering or present in an existing office building to comply with these occupancy limits can become a challenge — and there are certainly better, more streamlined or efficient ways to carry out such tasks today than assigning someone a manual clicker and having them watch the door during office hours.
Today, there are robust occupancy management solutions that integrate with access control technologies. There may even be ways to programme or upgrade your existing systems to provide a real-time snapshot of how many individuals are in a particular office and how many are congregating in a specific area of the building. These solutions can help an office determine how close it is coming to hitting occupancy limits and it can even work to prevent access from any additional people entering an office when limits have been reached. Finally, occupancy management solutions can determine who exactly is in a facility and also help identify close contacts in the event that contact tracing needs to be performed as a result of a positive COVID-19 case.
CCTV can be deployed as a complementary tool to these other technologies. It’s ideal for use as a teaching tool in the office setting, notably when it comes to ensuring that workers are adhering to proper social distancing and complying with any facial covering mandates that have been imposed. While many may think of video footage and the use of CCTV as a “gotcha tool,” we prefer to think of it as more of a teaching tool for helping to promote safe workplace conditions. Additionally, CCTV can also be used to identify any close contacts in the event of a positive COVID-19 case within the office setting so that the proper individuals who should be isolating are able to do so to help mitigate any further spread of the disease.
It won’t be long before keyboards are clicking, printers and copiers are whizzing, and there’s casual chatter around the coffee machine once again. Office workers can’t work full-time from home forever, and as cases continue to decline and vaccinations continue to accelerate, a return to the office will become more imminent. While many of the solutions to help reopen safely are ideal for a COVID-19 world, they also have their benefits in a post-COVID environment as well.
Please contact us if you have further questions on reopening your office safely and securely.