If you have people working after hours, in isolated areas or off-site alone, or like millions of “new Covid normal” hybrid workers, opting to work some days from home and others on-site, you’re facing unprecedented challenges from a Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) perspective.
Many organisations still don’t have plans in place on how to return to the workplace, and those that do are having those plans tested constantly by ever-changing regulations and HSE conditions.
Staggered shifts and 24/7 operations have been introduced in some workplaces to limit on-site numbers and keep distancing between workers. Some organisations are trying coloured wrist-bands for employees to visually indicate whether they’re more comfortable with a ‘hug’ or a ‘fist pump’ when it comes to physically distancing personal preferences.
The consistent truth is that health and safety considerations are unprecedented at such a scale: every organisation now has to think about physical distancing, PPE provision policies, increased frequency of cleaning, and flexibility for compassionate home life situations and self-isolation requirements that are still commonplace.
Challenges most of us are grappling with include:
- re-opening offices and welcoming back employees while ensuring people with any flu-like Covid symptoms stay off the premises
- managing physical distancing
- enabling good hygiene practices
- keeping track of when, who and how many people enter the premises
- managing the vast increase in staff working from home or a hybrid mix of home and on-site at work on different days.
To this last point, some employees will be ready and willing to get back to work and into some sort of routine while others will be slightly hesitant. In a recent survey conducted by Qualtrics workers of all ages – from Boomers to Gen Z – are equally uncomfortable about it all: more than 65% in each age group reported “feeling uncomfortable about returning to the workplace”.
Technology solutions for “Covid normal” hybrid workplaces
Given such unprecedented times, which technologies should you be considering to help manage the HSE implications in your workplace?
Log it, trace it, contain it
Let’s start with the obvious. The best way to trace everyone who’s been in contact with an affected individual is to digitally sign in (and out) every single person who comes into your workplace. Most visitor management apps will be able to help you with this, but WhosOnLocation goes a step further.
Where possible and required, zoning can be adopted to minimise exposure. Certain employees or contractors can be grouped together and assigned within a zone. Others are physically distanced by being assigned to a different zone at check-in.
If a visitor or staff member is subsequently identified as Covid positive, or carrying any other transmittable illness, their historic presence at any registered work site can be tracked to the specific area they worked in, as well as what time they were there.
Touch-free sign in
It might surprise you to know there‘s an average of 35 touch points per person during a standard sign in process. Many workplaces are starting to use the WOLMobile app instead. By allowing individuals to sign in using their own device, you significantly reduce the risk of cross-contamination simply by minimising touch points.
The same WOLMobile app can also be used for touchless sign in. Go completely hands free by enabling the auto sign in/out feature that uses geofencing technology to detect when someone has entered or exited your workplace, automatically updating their status in WhosOnLocation as they go.
So, whether your organisation has settled on a hybrid work policy, or is still figuring out your options, these technology tips should help create a smooth transition back into the office so you can focus on keeping those in your duty of care safe, regardless of their location.
Maintaining physical distance
You need measures in place to limit the number of people on-site at any given time. Setting a maximum occupancy means your workspaces will never be overcrowded. As soon as the maximum number of people on site is reached, any further attempts to sign in will be automatically denied by the system.
For further control, you can require that all guests or employees are pre-registered. This gives you greater oversight as to who to expect on-site each day, so you can plan accordingly.
Make your policies clear
As well as answering standard Covid-compliant questions, do you also require all visitors to use hand sanitiser before entering your facility? Are you only permitting those with a recent vaccination to visit? You can use both acknowledgment notices and your kiosk banner to inform visitors of your policies when signing in. Receive alerts if a visitor refuses to acknowledge your policy, too, and view a record of all responses through the reporting feature.
WhosOnLocation offers an incredibly useful visitor pre-registration feature, including a calendar integration. This allows employees to pre-register their own guests automatically, simply by sending a calendar invite. This generates an email for the guest, known as a WolPass, and can include details such as directions to your office or work site, instructions on where to park or your Covid-compliant visitor policy.
Ask the right questions
By digitally screening everyone who comes on-site each day, you can identify anyone who poses a HSE risk without adding administration, paperwork or liability risk.
With an easy to set up WhosOnLocation check-in kiosk, everyone signing in each day can be asked if they’ve felt unwell lately, been in contact with anyone who has symptoms, or returned recently from overseas. By enabling triggers, you’ll also be able to ensure the right people are alerted if someone answers ‘yes’ to any of the above.
Smartphone alerts to everyone, even contractors
Service providers or regular contractors can feel like full-time employees, and it’s certainly important to communicate with them in the same way you would your permanent team. One idea is to use the same workplace management apps you offer to employees.
The WhosOnLocation smartphone app (WOLMobile) is great for this. You can send important updates and notices to everyone on-site, regardless of whether they’re an employee, contractor or a service provider. So should you need to close an area of the site for extensive cleaning, or ask people to return home to self isolate, you can send an instant message quickly and easily.
The bottom line is that affordable, available technologies like WhosOnLocation can measurably improve the HSE outcomes for your workplace, regardless of where, how often and when your team works. Get in touch if you’re ready to talk about what solutions will help ease your particular HSE challenges or you’re invited to try a free 30 day trial.