Information is everything to get your staff back into the office

As more offices re-open their doors, managers and other senior staff must implement robust social distancing solutions to keep their employees safe and provide the reassurance required to get staff back to work.

While questions remain over the effectiveness of thermal cameras for covid-19 screening purposes, many companies are investing in both physical and medical solutions such as testing, screening and enhanced cleaning services. Other organisations are evaluating alternative technology-based solutions, including occupancy software and mobile apps.

This is a savvy move. With 79% of UK adults now owning a smartphone and the rising popularity of BYOD solutions, a smartphone is a key tool to help organisations get staff back into the office.

But not all apps are created equal and you must select one that helps you make data-driven decisions to ensure the safety of your staff, while optimising your office occupancy rates.

coronavirus in the workplace

Here are 4 features your chosen safe return to work mobile app needs to effectively prevent coronavirus in the workplace:

1. Robust desk booking systems

Flexible working is a lockdown benefit that many workers are reticent to give up. Only one-in-four workers want to return to the office on a part-time basis.

For companies, this represents a logisitcal challenge where you must maximise your office occupancy rates while using social distancing and other safety measures to minimise the risk of infection to your staff.

To overcome this issue, a robust desk booking system is essential for your app. This allows your staff to see (in real time) how busy the office is and book a specific desk. This capability massively streamlines the booking process and provides everyone with the most up-to-date information on occupancy rates.

If you have a desk booking system already in place, such as Micosoft 365, you must ensure that your chosen app integrates with this for as seamless an experience as possible.

If you want to offer a complete solution to your staff, you may want to consider the use of workplace occupancy sensors, which can integrate with your chosen app. Using these sensors, your desk booking system is automatically updated when a desk is occupied, alerting your office team to clean the desk and making it available as soon as possible to maximise your occupancy rates, in the safest way possible. You can learn more here.

2. Integration with office building floorplans

To maximise both employee safety and office occupancy, try to find an app that integrates your desk booking system with your building floorplan. This provides a visually-rich way for your staff to select a desk they feel comfortable working on where, for example, they can choose to work away from other workers.

If areas of your office building are blocked off for cleaning; from whole floors to canteens, or other social areas, you can also use this tool to instantly alert your employees. This not only allows you to re-assign employees dynamically to other safe spaces in the office to further reduce any risk, but also helps employees to navigate their way around your office spaces efficiently, whilst minimising their interaction with other staff members as much as possible.

You may also want to consider integrating an occupancy monitoring dashboard to manage the overall occupancy of your office spaces and instantly act upon any social distancing breaches. Learn more here.

3. Clear communications channels

Clear and regular communication is key when it comes to employee safety – and a mobile app offers the perfect platform to optimise on this.

More specifically, your chosen app should incorporate a user-friendly notifications system to share coronavirus updates and messages as regularly as is needed to keep employees alert and safe.

Such functionality not only complements your office’s existing digital signage but also provides a two-way channel for staff to connect and coordinate with colleagues in their inner circle. What’s more, you could use app-integrated interactive digital signage to display live workplace information and engage employees even further. Learn more here.

4. Integration with cleaning services

Most businesses are implementing regular and thorough cleaning solutions in their office buildings to minimise the likelihood of coronavirus in the workplace.

However, in order to make these services effective, it’s important that employees are aware of which spaces have been cleaned and when, to successfully prevent contamination - particularly in office buildings where employees use a hot-desking system. Having a safe return to work app that can be integrated with cleaning services or cleaning communications technology is therefore especially advantageous.

For example, Freespace’s Occupancy Based Cleaning service allows cleaning operatives to digitally mark a space as cleaned through SPOT Tag technology. SPOT is a versatile tagging system that allows each location to have a unique ID which can be used in a variety of ways. SPOT tags combined with the Freespace Safe Return App can help employees confirm if the space they are about to use has been cleaned and not occupied since then. SPOT tags can be used by the cleaning teams to confirm a space has been cleaned using our Cleanreader.

For additional safety, you many want to consider the use of occupancy based cleaning in your office building. Learn more here.

coronavirus in the workplace

The Freespace Safe Return App

At Freespace, we have pooled all our knowledge and experience in workplace optimisation and occupancy management to create our innovative Social Distancing Design Service, which includes our very own Safe Return App.

Harnessing all the essential features outlined above and more, this app allows businesses across the country to boost their return to work plans and ensure the safety of their employees.

From split shifts and teams, to rotated days or weeks, Freespace can help you manage the space and communicate the scheduling of your workspace to your employees.  

If you would like to try it in your office building, get in touch with our team today and we’ll be delighted to help you get started!

Try the Safe Return App

Raj Krishnamurthy

About the author

Raj Krishnamurthy