Managing Social Distancing – a guest post by Peter Smith, IAconnects

As employees prepare to return to the office, business owners face added pressures to ensure workplaces are safe. Last month, the UK Government issued £14million to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for extra call centre employees, inspectors and equipment. But is this enough to make staff feel at ease? We explore how Social Distancing Management Systems from IAconnects help you safely manage your workspace.  

The world is starting to emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown. Employees across the country are getting ready to return to work, and business are adapting to new social distancing regulations. Employers must make the workplace as safe as possible for staff, customers, and anyone else who visits. Office and desk spaces will need to be adapted to comply with social distancing guidelines, and communal areas will also require close monitoring to prevent overcrowding. 

IAconnects realises business benefits for industry by providing sensors, connectivity, control devices and software for delivering value with the Internet of Things (IoT). They facilitate efficient operation by enabling secure data from sensors and controllers either stored locally or in the cloud to provide intelligent diagnostics, analytics and control, resulting in optimum savings for the operator. Their ecosystem allows non-manufacturer specific sensors and control devices to be connected, managed and controlled via the cloud and / or local browsers using our own MobiusFlow® configuration and commissioning solution, with cellular connectivity by Arkessa. Find out more at iaconnects.com. 

 Adjusting to the New Norm 

As lockdown restrictions ease, it’s no wonder people are facing anxieties at the idea of returning to work. Lots of questions are being asked about workplace policies, in some cases businesses will have to pivot quickly to adhere to ever-changing guidelines. 

We will no doubt see a noticeable decrease in the number of people working in the office at one time. As employees gradually start to return to work, it’s likely that flexible working will become the norm across office culture. The need for reliable and accurate connected monitoring systems is imperative to help business owners adapt to the new norm and give employees the confidence to return to work. 

People Counting and Desk Management  

Connected devices can be deployed across the office to count the number of people present at any time. The data can be used to monitor occupancy at peak times, which will help managers plan team rotas and staff schedules. These kinds of systems will help customers and visitors feel at ease when on-site. Such devices can observe people count and occupancy of communal areas such as washrooms, kitchens and meeting areas. Staff hours can be better scheduled to maximise the efficiency of the use of office space, which can be particularly beneficial to smaller offices or ‘hot desking’ set ups.  

What’s more, the use of connected devices like people counting and desk management systems can effectively control occupancy in accordance with set social distancing parameters. For example, if the number of people huddled at the coffee station in the morning exceeds the set social-distancing amount, access via the kitchen door can be temporarily blocked whilst employees return to their desks. When the number of people in a particular area reaches the set capacity, a ‘cleaning required’ status can be used to alert building maintenance staff that the area requires attention.  

The data sent from these connected devices is available via a web-based dashboard. Access to the dashboard can be granted to business owners, facility managers and maintenance and reception staff. Visual notifications can be set, and alerts can be sent directly to the end-user to give an instant overview of the building’s status. These connected devices and the data collected are part of the Internet of Things. 

Simple System 

As companies adapt to this new way of working, the need to be able to access workforce data in real-time is essential. Furthermore, the devices that provide this data need to be simple, compact and easy to configure. As businesses to continue to scale, so must their ability to monitor the office environment.  

A workplace that is committed to employee and visitor safety will naturally help individuals feel ready to return to work. By implementing simplistic monitoring devices, employers can give their staff peace of mind, and naturally employee morale is likely to rebuild. For example, if social distancing measures only allow three people in a washroom due to available space, sensors can be placed on doors and entry ways. An electronic room signage can simultaneously display a green or red light, or a sign that reads ‘entry’ or ‘no entry’. The status will only change back when the washroom drops to the specified limit. When people leave the washroom, the same system can then notify the facilities team, via the dashboard, that the room needs to be cleaned. 

Sensors can be places underneath desks, team tables, reception counters or any other location around the office. They will monitor activity on an ongoing basis, and when combined, the data will provide valuable insights into how the office space is used. 

Arkessa managed connectivity services enable our partners to connect and deploy smart devices such as sensors and controllers, in both indoor and outdoor environments, securely and efficiently. To find out more, get in touch on connect@arkessa.com 

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