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How IoT & cloud technology are informing return to work policies

12 Mar 2021

Building a safe, future-ready workplace has become a top priority for businesses all over the world.

Governments and health authorities are providing advice and guidance on the key things that businesses need to consider when planning the return to work after COVID-19.

From maintaining social distancing and reconfiguring office layouts, to wearing face masks and introducing more flexible working models for employees, there is a lot to evaluate.

And this process has become an urgent part of short-term business plans.

Using worker insights to inform risk assessment

Understanding the risks involved with employees coming back to the office, largely depends on knowing how they act with each other and their environment when at work.

Policies on maintaining social distancing or wearing face masks are fine, but it’s important to make sure your office environment and the systems in place make it easy for employees to follow new rules or regulations.

Using worker insights, you can get a real-time view of movements within the workplace.

By connecting worker insight analytics to a central dashboard, you’ll be able to understand movement patterns in the office and find out which parts of the office get congested.

Understanding this information will help you manage the layout of your workspace to help ensure people returning to work can comply with the new guidance.

You’ll also be able to improve working schedules by understanding exactly how employees move around.

For instance, if you need to roll out staggered work times due to overcrowding in a particular area during peak hours, restrict certain workers to specific areas, or continue to have some employees working remotely.

Ensuring social distancing

In the past, smart cameras have been used as a safety tool to support employees working in remote or dangerous parts of the workplace. For example, they’re regularly used in factories to improve safety in areas where employees are close to moving machinery.

By watching the live camera footage, either in real time or played back, managers can better understand employee behaviour and assess the safety measures of the workplace and whether they’re working.

If an incident does happen, the camera footage provides a reliable account of what happened in the build-up to the incident — measured can then be put in place to prevent the same issues in the same future.

Similarly, smart cameras are used in large workplaces like ports to monitor the safety of employees working alone in remote areas.

Whether it’s fixing smart cameras to equipment or fixed points or using body-worn cameras, they’re helping ensure higher levels of safety in the workplace.

Now, that same technology can help keep employees safe in offices and other workplaces by monitoring for compliance of health and safety guidelines.

They can be quickly and easily deployed anywhere in your workplace and connected securely to a central hub where you can monitor footage in real-time – from a remote location yourself if preferred.

By using these cameras, businesses can ensure their employees are safe while on-site and anything stopping employees from being able to comply can be fixed.

And with new technology like IoT, connected devices and Edge Computing putting data closer to the end-user, we’re starting to see more of this technology used to improve real-time monitoring of employees’ safety in remote locations.

For example, using body-worn cameras for emergency responders with a live camera feed to remote monitoring stations where situations and safety can be monitored from anywhere.

Other businesses are using camera-based technology to monitor the return to the workplace.

Rugby team Wasps, for example, are using heat detection camera technology around their training facility to monitor the skin temperature of people entering the ground to make sure they aren’t showing a high temperature, a possible sign of illness.

Vodafone Business UK | Supporting Wasps Rugby return to Business

Relying on remote working

In some circumstances, it’s not going to be possible to bring employees back to the workplace – at least not everyone.

Which means ensuring everyone has the tools and connections they need to continue working from home long-term.

Whether it’s investing in reliable internet connections for your employees’ homes or making sure they have the equipment they need to work.

All this is going to be an important part of your assessment process.

At least in the short term, returning to the office is likely to be a more restricted process than what we’ve been previously used to.

New health and safety policies are being created, new rules are coming into force and we might have less of the usual “freedoms” when it comes to entering and moving around the workplace.

But by using technology, businesses can help make these changes as seamless as possible.

Find out more about how technology can support you and your employees get back to work safely.

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