The COVID-19 outbreak has spread across the world exponentially, affecting people, communities and businesses all over. As part of stringent efforts to curb the spread, lockdowns have been declared in several nations, leaving people homebound for weeks. As a result, several businesses are striving to continue working through remote collaboration. Overall, a temporary new normal of social distancing and remote working has been created.
What will it mean for people and businesses once the threat is overcome and people begin to resume their NEW normal lives? The resultant fear and precautions are likely to persist for months after the situation is under control. This places an immense responsibility on corporates to ensure the safety of their employees while continuing business.
Businesses will need to focus on maintaining safe distance by de-clustering workspace, deploying visitor and entry level scanning, promoting employee wellbeing and an overall increased dependence on technology.
Here’s an anticipation of how the workplace will change post the COVID-19 crisis and what measures corporates should accordingly take:
In the coming months after the pandemic, the current norm of remote collaboration and work from home will continue. People will still be extremely wary of working together or sharing desk space. Thus, albeit slowly, businesses must establish an effective and de-clustered workplace plan.
In the initial stages, employ a remote working strategy for as many employees as can be done. Thereafter, once things get better and office work can resume, ensure people do not work within six feet of each other. This could be achieved by allotting alternate desk spaces, or through rotational staffing plans wherein some work from home and some from office. Include lesser people in enclosed spaces such as conference rooms or meeting rooms.
A prerequisite in the coming months, even after the worst of the pandemic has passed, will be the deployment of extensive screening and testing at places where people convene.
Integrate scanning systems at the workplace to identify any susceptible cases and take precautionary measures at the root level. Our in-house ReMeDi Scan Corona can help in this regard, such that it can effectively help enterprises screen individuals before they enter the office premises every day. Not only enterprises, screening can be done at all entry points such as lobbies, conference entries, factory gates, retail outlets, malls etc. It features an all-in-one portable kit that makes the task of screening and testing easier. Technology solutions such as Infrared Fever Screening Systems (IFSS) can also be employed at strategic places to detect elevated body temperatures.
Increased reliance on automation and technology
The crisis has brought to light the need to minimize the chance of contact exposure by reducing the number of surface touch points. There will be an increased reliance on touch-less technology and automation to mitigate possible contagion.
Emerging technology such as RPA and Artificial Intelligence will be employed extensively to automate processes as far as possible and reduce manual intervention. Especially in the manufacturing and the retail sectors, where several processes are manual, the need for automation will be highest. Chatbots and voice-activated virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa will help reduce touch points while enhancing customer experience.
IoT devices will use the power of sensors to make as many tasks smart and hand-free as possible. For example, smart lighting and temperature control, voice-activated elevators, automated water dispensers, gesture-controlled systems etc. This will greatly reduce the chance of spreading germs through foreign surfaces.
Counselling for employees’ mental well-being
This pandemic has left people flustered, confused, worried and uncertain about their health and in several cases, their jobs. Enterprises should extend support through crisis counselling to their employees in this difficult time. Be understanding and patient, organize counselling sessions and ensure employees do not stress. Encourage them to carry out positive, sustainable activities for their mental and physical wellbeing and promote work life balance.
An important lesson that this pandemic has highlighted is the need for developing long-term resilience to deal with future crises. The dynamic place that the world is, it necessitates preparedness and foresight. This crisis is bound to leave lasting impacts that the world will struggle to recover from, but eventually, our collective experience will help us regain our footing and appreciate everything in a new light.