COVID-19 emphasised the need to create a healthy workplace and prioritise employee wellness and mental health when making decisions.
In our Future Ready Report, 76% of businesses said promoting employee wellness and mental health is likely to grow in importance, along with 77% who said the same about using the latest technology in the workplace.
Looking to the future, businesses will have to ensure the working environment — wherever it is — is safe and equipped to support employees. This means keeping it flexible and being willing to adapt it as needs change.
Of course, to build the workplaces of tomorrow, businesses need to understand how spaces are being used, from areas of congestion to which desks and meeting rooms are booked.
In this article, we’re going to explore the role data plays in this process.
In our 2020 Future Ready Report, only 30% of businesses said they had a fully documented and tested business continuity plan.
As the pandemic continues to affect how we work, minimising disruption to employees and operations is important for business continuity. This includes having procedures in place so employees can easily transition from one form of working (i.e. the office) to another (home-based or remote) with ease.
It is also crucial to monitor how well employees adapt and adhere to new processes.
For example, during COVID-19, businesses can use data supplied by Worker Insights to monitor whether employees are following safety procedures, increasing employee confidence in the work environment.
By giving you near real-time data and feedback on crowd densities, and even whether face masks are being used, you can better protect your workforce.
Long term, this can help businesses understand whether their current workplace meets their needs. It may be that the workplace needs to be physically adapted to manage changes, or they may need an entirely new workplace to meet their needs.
For example, if their workplace is only being used for specific meetings, they may be better suited to using meeting rooms in collaborative offices.
Understanding how equipment needs are changing among employees is another way businesses can plan in their business continuity and budget for a more responsive workforce.
Many businesses will have already moved away from desktops to laptops during COVID-19 as their employees went remote.
Looking to the future, businesses could investigate whether employees are better with mobile devices and 5G connections, as this allows them to easily move from the office to working remotely or at home with fast, dependable mobile connections that don’t rely on proximity to a broadband signal.
If businesses are to trust data, specifically data relating to how the workplace is being used and navigated, they need to be able to easily gather, store and interpret it.
With tools like Worker Insights, businesses have a central location where they can view data patterns to uncover trends, i.e. high occupancy areas or most-booked meeting rooms. They can then use the data to develop new strategies and procedures that make their workplace safer.
As for employees, these new strategies and procedures will not just improve their safety, but also their productivity as there’s less disruption (no crowding in areas, desk-booking, one-way systems).
Businesses around the globe are already using analytics, IoT and the cloud to maximise the health and safety of their workforce.
In manufacturing, for example, managers are using wearable technology and IoT sensors to actively inform employees if they enter a dangerous part of a warehouse such as an area where machinery is moving around.
The same principle can be used to reduce risks in any workplace.
You could, for instance, monitor how employees move around an area, where they gather and if there are potential risks to health (this is particularly useful in harsh and hazardous industries). If there are any risks, you can then develop new policies and introduce no-go zones for some employees.
For example, using available asset tracking technology, you can create electronic barriers or ‘geofences’ which can send automatic alerts when the perimeter is reached or breached.
These fences can be created in a single location, like a factory floor, or expanded to a much wider area.
As tools like Worker Insights are centrally managed, you can combine IoT devices and cloud technology with it to create a scalable, company-wide monitoring system.
The advantage of this is that you can then get insights from every site you operate.
With this kind of insight, you can start to guide the future development of health and safety across all your workplaces and spaces.
Of course, worker insights are just one part of bringing employees back to work safely.
If you want to find out more, download our guide to building a tech stack for the future workplace to see how you make your workplace safer, and technology can help you do it.
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