Why Getting Back to Work Will Make You Question Everything
Have you made it back to your office yet?
I had not been back to the office for 4 months. When I finally made the trip, was I in for a shock. To see my office through the lens of a pandemic made me do a double take.
Remember these beauties?
- Conference rooms; seating for 8+ with extra seating along the wall for “big meetings”
- Crowded desks areas; sitting close to engage with your people
- Cubes with low walls
And don’t let me get started on the open office floor plan. Oh, how our perceptions can change so quickly. We ripped down walls and tore down cubes to create an open environment to see everyone from one end of the building to the other. Now with COVID, we need the opposite–to be distant and have more spacial barriers to protect employee health.
After working in the same location for 3 years, I’m now looking at how close my co-workers sit to each other with a fresh perspective. Caused, I’m sure, by the daily reminders of the pandemic: stickers on the floor at the grocery store; reminders for shoppers to remain 6’ apart; and number counters outside stores to control how many people go inside.
My office, as potentially is yours, would be now considered a breeding ground for germs. What’s a leader to do in such times?
What do we do first, and for how long?
That’s the question we asked ourselves. We had to re-evaluate everything—from how employees and visitors enter the office, to hallway flows to and from the bathrooms. For the short term? The long haul? The problem is that no one really knows at this point.
So, we consulted with Wendy Bamberg M.D. and epidemiologist, to help us understand what areas we needed to focus on. We embraced the adage: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” We started first and foremost with employee safety, and specifically on getting people into the office safely. We worked to make it safe for healthy people to return to the office and advised sick colleagues to remain or return home. (She also shared this great advice in an on demand webinar that you can listen to.)
Creating safer spaces. Our challenge! Maybe yours too?
We needed to create a process by which we were increasing our employee’s confidence that they would be returning to a safer environment than the one they left. We felt the first step in that direction was to create a way to screen every person entering our building.
We researched a ton of options and possibilities including a handheld scanner and an excel sheet, a desktop infrared scanner and camera, and full-fledged kiosk solution with a temperature sensor and notification services. Given that we are a technology company, we decided to develop our own solution.
The way we solved it
There were three overarching requirements that had to be met. 1) It had to be more than just a temperature sensor; 2) it had to protect people’s information; and 3) it couldn’t be a “one trick pony” that would gather dust when no longer needed. The result? The new TouchSource Taos wellness kiosk which screens temperatures, delivers contactless hand sanitizer and includes a fully functional digital directory. With so many options in the market, what makes ours so different?
1. More than just a temperature sensor
We wanted to reassure our employees that the product we create would dive a bit deeper into ascertaining a temperature reading. Not just do an initial scan but take multiple scans, also take into account the ambient temperature and humidity and factor that into the calculation of temperature. The reduction of false positives was paramount in our thinking. No one wants to be flagged as “sick” when in reality they are perfectly fine. The unit was built to have a state-of-the-art temperature sensor, conduct multiple scans, and average the results prior to determining a temperature. And finally, we wanted to start the day off right by giving our employees the opportunity to sanitize their hands prior to entering. Thereby helping to clean the office environment one employee at a time.
2. Protecting information
When working through the use cases we wanted to share temperature screening information while managing the person’s temperature data discretely. We needed to cater to our customers’ needs while providing input on HIPAA and other regulatory concerns. We saw that many products in the market didn’t comply with existing data protection laws such as HIPAA, GDPR, California’s CCPA, and Brazil’s LGDP –especially with smaller tablet-sized solutions. The key requirement with HIPPA, and data protection laws is to ensure an organization is not collecting sensitive information about an individual and storing it or making the data available without consent. Behind the scenes, we found many of devices were storing images of the individuals that were getting their temperature scanned and associating the temperature to the individual without meeting compliance standards. By comparison, our finished product doesn’t utilize a camera to record an individual’s likeness and link that to their temperature.
3. A Future-Proof System
The pace of information related to the pandemic is still emerging at lightning speed. So, we knew that our products needed to keep in step and be able to quickly adapt. That’s why we integrated a digital display into the product to share constantly changing information.
The key to this solution–which we didn’t see in other products–is the ability to leverage an office directory, wayfinding, notifications, alerts and visitor support functionality along with the wellness screening. So, we worked tirelessly to integrate our digital technology into the new kiosk. By deeply integrating the temperature screening into our software, we were able leverage all of our products features while also supporting the safety of people coming back to the office.
We’ve been excited to see that customers have seen the same value that we did in this solution. Immediate safety features with communications capability that work now and into the future.
We aren’t done, we are still working…
We still have a long list of things to do but using our own technology to solve today’s epic problems, but we’re proud to help our customers and our own employees with rapid innovation.