This article is a companion to The Hartford’s Spring 2021 Edition quarterly cover story, Leading in the Unknown: Work in a Post-COVID World.
As remote workforces plan to return-to-site, here are the tech enhancements and tools leaders are relying on to enhance safety and foster collaboration.
Automated temperature scanners are a cost-effective way to screen employees before they enter the workplace. The Hartford’s Health Services division offers clients an artificial intelligence-based thermal scanning system from Bayside Operations. This system can recognize employees, check their temperatures and determine whether or not they are wearing a mask. It can even automatically open the door without any physical contact. Other options in the market include tracking tools, such as location-aware cell phone apps and Bluetooth-enabled wristbands, to monitor compliance with social distancing and help trace contacts in the case of an infection.
Doorknobs and elevator buttons are full of germs, even on a good day without a pandemic. Keycards and cellphones can serve as a better way to gain entrance without contact. Apps such as Proxyclick y Apogee enable employees to use their phones to open doors and even turn on the printer. Perkins & Well replaced all faucet and soap dispensers in the kitchens and bathrooms of its New York office with touchless models, said Brent Capron, principal and interior design director. There are also apps that employees can use to check into work and reserve a desk or conference room.
Slack, Zoom, Web-ex and Microsoft Teams have become indispensable in the COVID age. Other tools take collaboration to new levels. Asana Goals integrates with those tools and helps teams track progress on their goals. CultureAmp uses data-driven insights to improve employee engagement, performance and retention.
As employees return to work amid an ongoing COVID threat, new commuting alternatives to public transportation may be needed. Hip, a New York and Israeli-based startup, has adapted its transit app to let employees book seats on company shuttles. It can also figure out the most effective route for drivers and help employers manage the process.
Sequoia's Return to Work Center app provides a framework that integrates policies with action steps, screening protocols and employee communications. IBM's Watson is most famous for beating Garry Kasparov at chess, but the AI tool can also gather insights for employers, answer employee questions and manage facilities and office comings and goings. The Hartford has put together a Centro de recursos para el COVID-19 for individuals and employers, as well as a remote work guide geared for employers.