Aug 13 2020

The Tech That Will Help Offices Reopen Safely

Sanitation drones, social-distance monitors and thermal cameras will become common where people gather.

As businesses reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown, they are adopting emerging technology that keeps people safe and disinfects the workplace. Many companies are using these new products to sanitize offices and retail stores and to monitor employees’ and customers’ temperatures for warning signs of the virus.

These solutions will be especially helpful in retail stores, office parks, hotel lobbies — anywhere that people physically gather. “They help ensure a healthy and safe workspace where those who are most aggressively spreading the virus are blocked from entry,” says Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group.

According to an Enterprise Strategy Group report, of the 61 percent of knowledge workers concerned about their own personal health, 25 percent still want to return to their office. That creates a need for emerging technology that makes reopening safer.

DISCOVER: Learn more about the technology that will make offices ready for the future of work.

Buildings Can Use New Temperature Scanners

Temperature scanning has become common in many workplaces seeking to reopen safely: A thermal camera scans larger crowds, or a noncontact forehead thermometer checks the temperature of individual workers. Companies such as ICI offer infrared cameras that can take a temperature reading from a shallow epidermal layer. “Today, with high-­quality camera technology being readily available, detection can be done with an impressive level of accuracy in real time,” says Mike Leone, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

Implement Emerging Social Distancing Solutions

Some businesses are deploying people counters and social distance monitors. The former track how many people enter or leave an establishment, s­implifying compliance with reduced occupancy limits. “Think about a grocery store: You have somebody standing out there for what could be 10 or 12 hours a day, doing the counting,” says Joseph King, senior director of Philips Professional Display Solutions, North America. Instead, Philips’s PeopleCount technology helps shoppers manage this traffic themselves.

Social distance monitors use sensors to alert staff if people are too close to each other, Enderle says, providing alerts to let staff know when people ­violate the 6-foot rule.

Keep Offices Clean With UVC Light Sanitation

Transit systems and hospitals are among those using ultraviolet C light to disinfect high-traffic areas. The technology could also help in gyms and stadium locker rooms as well as in retail stores and offices. Products in this category include the Digital Aerolus Aertos 120-UVC Drone and HamiltonBuhl HygenX Vray Wand. The Aertos drone achieves a 99 percent disinfection rate when it flies 6 feet above a surface for five minutes.

Technology has the potential to make businesses safer to reopen if people are serious about fighting the disease, says Enderle. “They’ll provide for a safer working and retail environment,” he says. “Once both employees and customers know what to look for, the businesses that are better protected should find it easier to attract and hold both employees and customers.”

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