Nittan Bhalla from Wipro - Covid safety measures for offices

Nittan Bhalla from Wipro - Covid safety measures for offices

The impact of Covid-19 has been immense across all industries. There was no preparedness whatsoever for the situation which led to the standstill of businesses.
Most of the organisations showed resilience and overcame the situation with the help of quick implementation of solutions that enabled their workforce to work from home, wherever possible. With the help of government bodies and other competent authorities, IT/ITeS industry received certain exemptions that helped at large, as we experienced complete lockdown scenarios in the country.

Across industries, lessons learnt during the lockdown period are being used from this large-scale work-from-home experiment to reimagine how work will be done and what role offices should play, in the most creative ways. Adequate reach of effective communication is one of the key focus areas that will make new processes work on ground.

As we enter in ‘unlock’ phase, recovery to achieve normalcy will be in steps. There’s is no set ground rule or plan for now. It is more of experimenting with the ground rules and move forward.

Health and safety of the workforce will be paramount and hence all new processes for the recovery will have to be in line with it.

In the new normal, usage of face masks and maintaining social distancing will be the key for wellbeing and hence it is important to revisit both span and plan of the facilities to ensure minimal gathering within common areas.

While the business environment has changed a great deal during the COVID-19 crisis, most of the organisations are planning the transitions by taking adequate preventive measures on account of the safety of employees. The focus is on the set of workforce who cannot be enabled to work from anywhere and this is being done by following all required safety norms and procedures.

The situation is very dynamic at present and with each passing day new regulations and findings are coming out to be dealt with. The “return to workplaces” is a set of processes that each organisation will have to develop for its own according to its requirements. This will define the occupancy and manage the footfall within the offices.

The future and success of employees working effectively and efficiently lie with how fast the organisation can adapt to new norms, tackling immediate concerns while planning ahead for longer-term shifts.

Before any proven cure is introduced, the office experience probably won’t remain as it was before the pandemic. Many companies will always require employees to wear masks, redesign spaces to ensure physical distancing, and restrict movement in areas where footfall is high.
Few of the safety measures that can be established at the office may include – a central repository for user registrations to trace users, in case of any infected cases. Office commute to happen in self/dedicated vehicles with partition screens between driver and employees.

While in office, the workforce can be divided to work in smaller groups within a designated zone and with restricted movements. Café, meals, pantry, etc, have also being tagged as per zone to keep interaction contained between smaller groups. Thermal and SPO2 measurement while entering is a must, along with the mask and adhering to social distancing norms, at all times.

Health and safety should get monitored and tracked at each stage once the employees start operating from offices. Many organisations are using technology solutions to capture each activity, wherein self-declaration by the users on their wellbeing, proactive planning to operate from an office, adequate staggering of shifts, contactless access and maintaining social distancing at each of the areas within the facility.

It is also important that organisations follow guidelines shared by local and competent authorities, apart from any additional specific controls that may be required depending upon the industry.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, it is evident that technology innovations are helping to manage the epidemic and better equipped to deal in a systematic manner.

Few of the technology enablement that helps secure access to data, virtual meetings, cloud conferencing are the ones that ensured business continuity. Because of technological advancement, remote working became a reality as it helped to keep businesses running and at the same time maintained forced social distancing.

The wireless thermometer guns and other similar infrared body temperature measuring devices turn out to be effective during this crisis period.

Few other technology systems that can help organisations to deliver services efficiently are:
-          Usage of advanced robotic systems that will involve - self-driving cars, drones and robots, to reduce or minimise human contact. It is a matter of time that we will see them all in action.
-          With the use of AI, a lot is achieved in differentiating whether the patients have a common cold, flu, or COVID-19, whether or not the individual needs to be tested.
-          CCTV cameras along with facial recognition technologies can help in identifying infected people and their movement.
-          During a pandemic, communication is the key factor to spread awareness and masses to be informed and reminded of precautions. For example, caller tunes being used by telecom operators to disseminate information.

One of the major challenges will be to implement and monitor social distancing.
As the workforce return to workplaces and spend more time there, companies should remain vigilant, watching for outbreaks so that it doesn’t impact business at large.
Enough has already been damaged for most of the companies and any manageable failure on this account may impact the worst - existence of the business itself.

Another challenge we envisage will be on the way we collaborate and execute. Building culture, driving value system, employee communication, feeling of being connected, sense of togetherness are few other aspects that will have to be dealt with utmost priority and sensitivity.

Before the pandemic, the industry has been discussing digital for a long time and had made significant progress on the same. However, the C19 has not only accelerated the change in how we work but is now driving innovations to collaborate and deliver in better ways.
It is also anticipated that distributed delivery models will get introduced, where the work will come closer to homes than the other way around. In the post-COVID world, remote working seems to be the norm for many businesses across the world and it will remain so for long times ahead.
The future looks promising and many industries will bounce back with more rigor than before.

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