— New Work

22.11.2021 | 3 min read

How technology can deliver safer and more secure office environments

The pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives, including everyday tasks as fundamental as going to the office and collaborating face-to-face with colleagues and clients. Around the world, people are swapping to the home office for months at a time. In the office, employers face new challenges: Preventing virus outbreaks as much as possible and ensuring that all employees can complete their tasks safely and without worry.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health authorities have issued guidance for companies to make offices safer, plans regarding the ‘new normal’ vary widely between countries, states and even individual cities. Companies will have to look at guidelines from local and national authorities for each office location to mitigate risks with all resources and strategies that are available.

The 2-meter concept, defined by Cushman and Wakefield, pushes for this minimum distance to safely separate employees in the workspace and incorporate and normalize this guideline in everyday life.” The 2-meter office can be put into practice very easily thanks to both a range of standard office equipment and state-of-the-art technology.

  • Desks and chairs enabled for use and configured appropriately
  • A workstation reservation system to ensure that the number of employees who can enter the office or designated workspace concurrently does not exceed limits
  • Sensors that can analyse office engagement and detect safety protocol infractions

Modular Solutions create a safer and more efficient office

Through e-shelter´s security modular Smart Building solutions, we can enable new, flexible office concepts that help ensure a safer and more secure workplace. In addition, we can optimize space utilization and deliver greater energy efficiency within the office environment. Through our process, we create a new digital user experience with enhanced security that seamlessly integrates into everyday office life – an integration with different building systems and IT applications. All this is made possible through the intelligent IoT digitalization platform of Thing-it, a key partner of ours. In addition, we provide building users with a convenient Workplace App as a central communication, booking and operating solution. As a result, we deliver the New Work environment with greater sustainability in both new and existing buildings.

How the 2-meter office works

While a completely remote workforce seems unlikely for most organizations given the intangible benefits of social connection, collaboration, and innovation that in-person working provides, we are indeed seeing a gradual return to the office. The utilization of office space, however, will change dramatically. One of the many changes occurring is that permanently assigned desks will become much less common. In this more controlled office environment, workspaces, meeting rooms, parking spaces, lockers and equipment can be booked quickly, easily and directly via our app. But how to anticipate how many desks will be required in the future? Reliable data is essential to this decision.

In the first phases of returning, businesses may look at rearranging workspaces and reducing occupancy by as much as 50-70% as some employees continue to work from home. Let’s take a look at our partner Thing-it’s office as a workable example which features 14 desks for more than 20 employees who come into the office with a flexible schedule. Due to the company’s office structural conditions, Thing-it cannot rearrange the desks in the office in such a way that all 14 locations meet the 6-foot spacing. They do, however, explicitly define which desks are available and which are not.

Source: Thing Technologies GmbH

The floor plan above shows four offices with a total of 14 desks – the three rooms above the hallway and the one at the top right of the photo. With appropriate social distancing measures, we now have 6 of the 14 desks available. For many companies, separating workstations, adding sneeze guards, and reassigning seating to appropriately distance people from each other can be fast and easy to implement. Additionally, technology such as spatial intelligence platforms and people-counting sensors can make it easier for facility management teams to plan for and monitor social distancing more proactively. Within a single application, employees can use heatmaps and workspace reservation functions to see which areas are at capacity before they leave their location – reducing the chances of unnecessary contact. This could also boost productivity by reducing the time it takes to locate co-workers.

Below is an example of how to select and book a desk in the Thing-it office in 15 seconds using only the floor plan:

Working to create a safer work environment

e-shelter security, along with our partners, deliver safer and more secure work environments through the integration with technology. Our implementation of the 2-meter office has multiple features in addition to the reservation systems, analytics and sensors including the following:

The modular design is an important component to the e-shelter security Smart Building solution as we can adapt and easily customize individual customer needs and growth – starting with the Digital Workplace experience and expanding it at any time into a comprehensive Smart Building or Smart Campus solution.

To learn more about our Return to Work solutions, download the brochure: Holistic Workplace Solution.

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