How to build a technology toolkit to reopen and stay open
Workplaces around the world are learning to adapt in the wake of COVID-19. As we transition to the new normal, your team will be hyper-aware of how they interact with the workplace. How do they know if it’s safe? Will they be able to maintain social distancing? Can they trust that other people in the office are healthy? What surfaces will they have to touch to make it to their workspace?
Inside you'll find
As you reimagine the office and solve for these challenges, workplace technology can help. The right tools can keep your team safe, healthy, and productive. Not to mention, protect your business from liability, should something happen in your space. But in today’s already complicated environment, you’re going to need tools that work together seamlessly. Read this ebook to learn what technology you need in your workplace.
Workplaces are changing in response to COVID-19. Where people work, how they commute, and how they interact with their offices and coworkers are changing too. When safety is top of mind for everyone, ensuring a healthy work environment is essential to safely welcoming people into your workplace. But meeting the challenges head-on can be daunting. How do people know it’s safe to go into work? Will you be able to maintain social distancing in the office?
In reimagining the workplace to adjust for the realities of a pandemic and beyond, technology can help. The right tools can ease stress, boost productivity, and—most importantly—keep your team safe. But not all safety solutions are designed to work together. And when convenience is just as important as security, you need technology that connects seamlessly and functions as a single system.
Ready to learn which processes are most important for facilitating a safe return to work? This ebook will cover proactive safety measures you can take now, and how connected technology can help you automate and enforce new protocols.
About the author
Openpath is a leading mobile access control provider focused on making people feel safe at work by offering frictionless products that take advantage of new technologies. Openpath was created by a team of serial entrepreneurs who were tired of forgetting their office keys at home, frustrated with having to carry multiple badges to get into their buildings, and seriously worried about the security of their workspace given the state of the world today.
1. The tools you need for social distancing in the workplace
The property design trend leading into 2020 was all about communal spaces. Fitting more people into smaller square footage. Young professionals flocked to city centers to live close to everything they needed. Mixed-use buildings were springing up on every corner. Small apartments and shared office spaces offered robust amenity within easy reach. But COVID-19 brought about a paradigm shift: the more space between you and the person next to you, the better.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidelines that call on workplaces to establish policies for social distancing, creating a new norm across most aspects of everyday life in the US. COVID-19 brought with it swift changes to the way we shop, commute, exercise, socialize—and the way we work.
This presents a unique challenge for workplaces in particular. Capacity management is an essential part of returning to work safely in the COVID-19 age. Lower office capacity gives employees and visitors the space to follow social distancing guidelines at work. Making sure people are actually sticking to those guidelines is a different story.
Signage, plexiglass dividers, floor decals, and rearranging the office furniture are a solid start. But none of these solutions actually enforce capacity levels. That’s where technology comes in. You can leverage capacity management tools to automate and enforce your new protocols, without even having to be on-site.
The solution: capacity management technology
What is capacity management technology? A capacity management system is a tool that helps you measure how many people are in a space at a given time. Most businesses actually already have some sort of system in place for knowing who’s at the building and when. Employees scan an ID badge when they come in for the day, or all visitors sign in at reception. You may even have a scheduling system to reserve amenities like conference rooms. All these techniques are a simple form of occupancy tracking.
Proper capacity management is crucial in the post-COVID office. Here’s what to look for when you’re considering a new tool for your workplace:
- You’ll want a system that allows you to set daily capacity levels. Being able to adjust the thresholds puts you in full control of your building.
- Choose a capacity management tool that works with your employee and visitor registration platform. The fewer disparate programs your admins use, the easier it will be to manage.
- Integrating with your access control provider allows you to automate and enforce capacity limits.
With the right capacity management tool, you can leverage the processes you already have in place.
Step 1: Determine your capacity levels
Before you establish a new capacity management system in your building, you have to know the maximum number of people allowed. First, check your local laws and regulations for social distancing guidance. Some cities and states have different mandates for how to measure capacity. Some use square footage to calculate capacity, and certain types of businesses may require more space, like retail or food service. The CDC and your local government websites should have up-to-date guidelines.
Your office capacity levels may differ by floor or room. Consider how people use each space when setting capacity limits. For example, a large, open lobby can hold more people than a small conference room. How long people are there matters too. Shared workstations put people at more risk than hallways where people are just passing through. You’ll also want to set up your space for social distancing. This may mean making non-permanent changes to your office layout like removing desks or blocking off meeting rooms.
With local regulations and social distance space planning in mind, you should be able to calculate exactly how many people can safely be in your workplace.
After you have your capacity levels set, determine which areas of your office or building to monitor. Look at exterior doors, conference rooms and break rooms. Focus on spaces where people are often close together. You need to have visibility into daily activity in real-time for these spaces, and set limits for each.
Step 2: Set up your capacity management system
To manage the capacity of your building and facilities, you need to know how many people want to use the space each day. Use an employee and visitor registration system to require everyone to register for building access ahead of time. Be sure to communicate the new process to all employees and visitors. You’ll want to have the capacity tracking tools ready to go before reopening the building.
First, admins should set the capacity limits for each space for the day. This prevents people from registering beyond the capacity limit. The capacity management tool counts the number of registrations, and notifies admins once the space is full. Admins can then deny access requests until there’s room to let more people in. Accurate, real-time data empowers admins to optimize space throughout the building. Enforcing social distancing is easier once you know how many people to expect. Plus, controlling the number of people in the building creates a safer working environment for everyone.
Step 3: Connect building access control with capacity limits
Connecting your capacity management tool with your access control provider gives you even more control over who can enter your space. One of the best ways to limit office capacity is to have people work at different times. In your access control platform, create user groups for new work shifts, so only certain people have access at specific times. Together with registering for access, this prevents too many people from showing up to the building at the same time. Staggering arrival times also helps prevent congestion in lobbies and around main entries.
Cloud-based access control systems that support remote management is essential for any office opening during the pandemic. For admins, being able to manage the entire platform from anywhere minimizes face-to-face contact. With remote unlock features, you don’t have to be on-site to let someone in. If you need to open the door for visitors, you can let them in with a single tap. Remote unlock is also great for deliveries and maintenance when nobody is at the office. Plus, capacity alerts keep admins on top of access activity. If they need to step in and change schedules on the fly, remote management makes it simple.
Step 4: Analyze and refine space management strategies
Like any building operations strategy, your capacity protocols may need adjusting over time. Look for a tool that allows you to view analytics on office attendance across all your locations. Analyze which spaces are the most-requested, or frequently go over your set capacity. You can make quick changes to door schedules and user groups in your access control provider. The better your data, the more effective your management will be. Remember, keeping people safe is the priority, so your technology tools should be flexible!
Best practices & key takeaways
For many, managing capacity at work is uncharted territory. As we all learn to navigate the new normal, there are a few best practices and takeaways to keep in mind.
Follow local guidelines and check back frequently because they may change. Don’t worry – your digital and cloud-based capacity management platform makes adjusting your limits and schedules easy!
Integrate your platforms to make managing your building easier. With digital requests, check-ins and access credentials all connected, your administrative team is free to focus on more important tasks than assigning badges and checking visitor logs.
Now is the time for innovation and creative problem solving. Reimagining your office space gives you a chance to make lasting, positive changes to the workplace. Look to leverage technology to keep people safe and make it possible to return to work sooner.
2. Why you need health questionnaires and how technology can help
One of the most common places people pick up contagious illnesses is at work. The constant flow of people coming and going. The long hours spent around coworkers. The shared amenities and small workstations. Normally, it’s a common cold or flu season to worry about. But with COVID-19, it’s never been more important to keep employees and visitors in your workplace safe. The best way to do this is for sick people to stay home. But how can you make sure the people entering your building are healthy?
The solution: workplace health questionnaires
One of the best ways to know if someone is feeling ill? Ask them! Pre-screening employees and visitors is a cost-effective way to know they are in good health. You can use questionnaires, temperature checks, and health waivers to pre-screen people who want to come on-site.
These health screening tools are a great way to identify anyone who should stay home. But keeping that information organized and protected could get messy, especially if you have a larger building or lots of employees. You’ll want to make sure your screening procedures are easy to complete, and easy to manage. With the help of technology, you can automatically add a health questionnaire into your registration process and require that employees and visitors complete it before giving them access to your building. Learn which tools can help you navigate a safer return to work, and how to implement them for your building.
Step 1: Reevaluate your check-in procedures
Before you welcome back employees and visitors to your workplace, look at your current office check-in process. Things will likely need to change from what you had set up before the pandemic. Ditching pen and paper sign-in sheets, adding health questionnaires, and requiring pre-registration are all recommended as part of a safe check-in procedure. Here’s how to know what your building needs.
When planning your health pre-screening strategy, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- How many people should you allow on-site at one time?
- How often will people need access to the building?
- How often should people complete a health questionnaire?
- How will you accommodate visitors and guests?
- What types of screening technology does your budget allow for?
If you only have a handful of people coming into the office, you may not need to make radical changes to your check-in process. But if you have a larger staff, it can be harder to keep track of who is coming to the office when—and if it’s safe for them to be there. To make sure staff are cleared to return to the workplace, employees should complete a questionnaire each day before coming in. With a staggered shift approach, only employees scheduled to come in that day would need to go through the screening process.
When planning for visitors to come into your space, there are more factors to consider. You’ll need to communicate the new procedures ahead of time, plus have a way to ensure visitors complete a wellness questionnaire before arriving. If visitors used to sign in at reception, you should update the process to eliminate the face-to-face interaction.
Keeping the process organized and easy is key to enforcing health questionnaires. Next, you’ll want to look for solutions to help you automate this new process.
Step 2: Implement a tool that does the work for you
Automating your check-in processes is much easier with a digital platform. Employee registration and visitor management systems can give you the tools you need to manage everyone coming through your door—even better if the two systems work together seamlessly.
There are a lot of benefits to using software for your COVID-19 check-in procedures. Digital forms are much easier to manage, as you can send, complete, and view them from any device. No more stacks of paper or manually logging information. Digital platforms also improve data security. Choose software that meets strict compliance standards, and uses encrypted communication to protect personal information.
Another benefit is that digital platforms enable touchless check-in. With no need for face-to-face interactions, you can move to remote reception. People only need their phone to complete the digital health questionnaire. This way you can remove communal touchpoints like kiosks or sign-in sheets.
To create your COVID-19 digital health screening process, consider which questions you want people to answer to help you determine if it’s safe for them to come in. Also consider if you want them to complete a temperature check at home as part of the process. Some example questions from the CDC for your health questionnaire include:
- Have you been in close contact with a person diagnosed with coronavirus?
- Do you have a fever greater than 100.4°?
- Are you showing any symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath)?
- If you were previously diagnosed with COVID-19, has it been at least 10 days since showing symptoms, or have you been cleared by a doctor?
When an employee registers to come into the office or if you pre-register a visitor, they’ll automatically receive their health questionnaire to complete before arriving. This way you can make sure that everyone who is approved to come to the office is healthy. If someone answers a question unfavorably and might pose a risk, you can deny their entry and follow up with next steps.
Step 3: Use access control to enforce the results
Once you set criteria for who is allowed onsite, you can layer in extra security by connecting your access control system so only healthy individuals can badge into your workplace. For the best way to automate and enforce your health questionnaire, use a cloud-based, mobile access control system. Platforms with open API architecture make integrations seamless and fast to deploy.
One reason for using mobile credentials in this scenario is that they’re touchless. An employee or visitor can do the entire check-in process on their phone. Then, the same device gets them through the door. Your visitor just waves their hand in front of the reader to get in—completely touchless from start to finish.
Mobile credentials are also more convenient than badges or keycards. With a digital process, your employees and visitors don’t need to remember anything else when they come to the office. Plus, you avoid having to hand out shared visitor passes.
A mobile access control integration can also enforce your new procedures without any additional legwork for you. It works by associating the completed health questionnaire with an employee’s mobile credentials. Like an extra authorization step, if the form isn’t completed, they won’t be able to enter the building. Instead of confirming each individual verification form, let your access control provider do it for you.
Cloud-based access control also gives you real-time information on who’s entering and exiting the building. This is a necessary element for better building security, and helps you prevent unwanted intrusions. The detailed reporting also enables you to enforce social distancing at work through capacity management. By knowing how many people are at the office, you can make sure there’s enough room for everyone to keep a safe distance.
Step 4: Consider on-site temperature screenings
Many businesses are also incorporating on-premise temperature screenings for their COVID-19 safety protocols. Before jumping on the bandwagon, there are some key factors to consider with this technology.
First, consider if your budget allows for temperature scanning technology. Thermal scanning cameras come at a premium. Top-of-the-line equipment can be expensive.
In order for the system to function, you need a safe space to set up the scans. In some larger buildings, this could create a bottleneck at your main entrance points. Remember, social distancing is important in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Large groups of people waiting for a scan could
Make sure your security budget is flexible enough to cover the hardware, installation, and maintenance costs.
If on-site temperature screenings are important to your COVID-19 safety strategy, the right technology is key. Look for thermal cameras and scanners that are interoperable. Connecting your existing security infrastructure can reduce the strain on your operations teams. Some thermal cameras can integrate with access control and digital check-ins, for example. This allows you to manage the entire process from one platform.
Best practices & key takeaways
Using technology to create a safer building is a smart, essential part of reopening during COVID-19. Combining a digital check-in process with mobile access control, can streamline your return to work. This integration enables businesses to automate their health questionnaires by:
- Allowing you to adjust on the fly. Easily change your questionnaires or require additional steps in your check-in process.
- Reducing administrative burden. Remote access to your cloud-based, digital platform makes management easy and convenient.
- Creating a touchless experience that’s easy to implement. Interoperable software and hands-free access means a safer, healthier building.
- Improving the visitor experience. Digital health questionnaires are convenient and easy to use. Plus, touchless access control is convenient and germ-free.
3. How to increase workplace safety with touchless technology
Workplaces around the world are learning to adapt in the wake of COVID-19. In the new normal, we’re all more aware of everything we touch, especially in the office. The CDC says businesses should make a plan to reduce common touchpoints in the office, and any items that can’t be removed need to be cleaned on a more frequent basis. Door handles, light switches, elevator buttons, stair railings. The list goes on. How can we keep people safe without interfering with their ability to work and live? As businesses reimagine their workspaces, new technology can help create a safer environment.
The solution: Touchless technology
Before the pandemic, touchless technology was a cool feature. But most businesses weren’t implementing hands-free features in their offices. Now, touchless solutions have gone from nice-to-have, to essential in keeping people safe at work.
Creating touchless experiences also reduces the amount of maintenance required in your building. Proper cleaning and sanitization are essential safety measures in the post-COVID office. Now more than ever, maintenance needs to be handled in a smart, efficient way. It’s both a preventative safety measure, and improves your business operations. This guide will help you choose the best touchless technology for your space. You’ll also learn how to manage maintenance to reopen your doors with confidence.
Step 1: Identify problem areas
Before reopening the office, you need to assess your current space. Look for areas that could increase risk for transmitting the coronavirus. Start by identifying the most common touchpoints in the building. You’ll want to pay close attention to doors, break rooms, dining areas, shared workspaces, conference rooms, and restrooms. Once you know where the hotspots are, you can keep a closer eye on managing them.
Next, determine a budget for your touchless technology updates. As you budget, focus on the most-used spaces in the building, and areas that have the greatest impact. While a voice-activated coffee machine sounds like a nice amenity, it’s not the most essential update. Touchless technology will have the most impact where it can’t be replaced with anything else.
Health-related technology can be costly, so invest in solutions that will still retain their value in the future. Touchless technology is future-proof, not just a fad created by the pandemic.
Step 2: Start at the front door
If everyone entering your building touches the same readers and door handles, any safety updates you make inside might be wasted. Everyone has already used a communal object to get inside. Touchless access control is your first line of defense in a smart, safe building. When choosing a touchless access control system, here’s what to look for:
Having people use their phone to get into the building is safer and more convenient. There’s no need to worry about forgetting a badge at home, or people passing them around the office. Management is also easier. You can assign or revoke permissions with a single click. Plus, mobile credentials are more secure. Phones have a form of multi-factor authentication already built-in that you can leverage.
Look for access control that has wave-to-unlock capabilities. This feature lets people keep their phone in their pocket or bag, and wave by the reader to enter. If people have to take their phone out, open an app, and select a door, the system is no longer fast and efficient. This could cause a bottleneck at your door.
Your access control system needs to work 100% of the time. Look for systems that have fail-safes and backup power supply. Unlocking should be reliable, too. Choose reader hardware that uses multiple signals to ensure a consistent experience.
Cloud-based software gives you the benefit of managing the system from anywhere. Unlock a door for an employee, issue guest passes, or change door schedules remotely. System updates can be done in the cloud, too.
Another benefit of using a cloud-based access control system is the ability to connect with other applications. Access control software with open APIs is easy to integrate with other building platforms. Your employee or visitor management system is a great example. This integration automates your new procedures, such as digital check-ins and health questionnaires.
When it comes to future-proofing your building, touchless access control is an essential tool. It’s a more convenient, faster way to enter the building than traditional keycards. You can also connect your access control with automatic door opener hardware if your building allows. A hands-free system will keep the flow of traffic moving through your building without having to touch a thing.
Step 3: Upgrade to a touchless registration system
Using an all-digital platform enables a touchless sign-in process, too. A mobile employee registration system lets people request access from their smartphone before coming into work. And a visitor management system lets your guests pre-register to come to your workplace.
Creating a touchless experience shows that you’ve thought of every last detail of your team’s and guest’s experience. Not only have you made the process more convenient, you’ve also taken steps to lessen the burden on them when they come onsite. By doing that, they’re not bothered with sign-in once they arrive and can more quickly get to work, which saves them time and hassle.
Plus, there’s often a lot of info you’ll need to collect from them. Instead of asking for this information during sign-in at the building, you can get it done in advance. Collect essential information, require they complete a health questionnaire, and take care of any additional actions all before the visit.
Going touchless is another way to help your entire office stay healthy. By going touchless, you’re able to minimize the spread of germs and make sure you’re taking care of everyone in your space.
Step 4: Rethink your maintenance management
Even with new technology and digital processes, it would be unrealistic to assume you could remove every single touchpoint in the office. Despite putting in all the best touchless technology and safety protocols, regular cleaning is still necessary. Increasing your building maintenance during COVID-19 is a must for keeping people safe and healthy. Leveraging technology keeps the workplace clean, and also makes your operations more efficient. This, in turn, reduces costs. But how do you know what to clean, and when? Digital workplace management tools can help you plan better maintenance schedules.
When revising your cleaning process, your technology systems provide useful snapshots of workplace activity. A cloud-based access control system empowers you with data and reporting in real time. These analytics, paired with info from your employee registration system, help you see when to schedule maintenance without disrupting your employees.
Requiring everyone to register before coming onsite gives you more information to work with. Connected to access control, this creates a powerful tool for optimization. Notice the occupancy trends, like which days have spikes in activity, or which zones are at maximum capacity. Set new work shifts, manage user groups, and open doors from anywhere, all on one dashboard. With remote access to your platform, adjusting for better maintenance schedules is easy.
Maintenance staff can use the same digital check-in and access control procedures, too. That way, you have a detailed audit trail of which spaces were sanitized and when. The more visibility you have into what’s happening inside your building, the safer it will be.
Best practices & key takeaways
Creating safe, sanitized workplaces poses a unique challenge for reopening businesses. Touchless technology enhances building safety, without sacrificing security or convenience. Here are a few best practices and takeaways to keep in mind when considering touchless technology in your workplace:
- Hands-free and touchless technology has become a necessary safety measure. When budgeting for touchless technology, focus on the most impactful areas first.
- Touchless access control gives people confidence in your building’s safety from the moment they walk up to the door. Install hands-free access systems at key entry points with high traffic to remove common touchpoints. Plus, mobile credentials are more convenient, with a faster, hands-free entry experience.
- Touchless sign-in reduces the need to interact with communal surfaces or have face-to-face interactions. Require everyone, including guests, to pre-register to come onsite, and enable health questionnaires as an additional precaution.
- Cloud-based reporting gives admins greater visibility into building activity. Use access alerts, occupancy tracking, and sign-in data to optimize employee schedules and maintenance.
Your tech toolkit to reopen and stay open
Now is the time to be proactive about your workplace safety—and the right tech toolkit can help. The most important thing to look for when building your tech toolkit is tools that work together. This will make it easier to operate your business during unprecedented challenges. Connected technology gives your team flexibility to create safe processes across your offices. A nimble system saves your team time and hassle when adapting on the fly, and reduces cost when it matters most.
Envoy’s workplace platform is a complete solution to help you safely welcome employees and visitors to your workplace. With Envoy, you can create customized health questionnaires to make sure everyone coming into your space is healthy. Then greet them on-site with safe, touchless sign-in to limit the spread of germs. You can also set a capacity limit at each of your spaces. This helps you keep count of how many people are on-site or expected. If you hit capacity, no one else can register without your approval.
Envoy connects with 50+ out-of-the-box integrations from top technology providers. This way you can connect with the tools you need to keep your building and people safe. Like Openpath’s leading hands-free, mobile access control system.