Bringing Employees Back to Work: Simple Solutions To Address Complex Problems

Protocol for returning to offices has been well-documented. The physical logistics are straight forward, albeit potentially complex to implement. But the biggest challenge lies outside a company’s purview. Employees’ interactions before they arrive on site and after they leave the building will inevitably impact the organization...

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Protocol for returning to offices has been well-documented. The physical logistics are straight forward, albeit potentially complex to implement. But the biggest challenge lies outside a company’s purview. Employees’ interactions before they arrive on site and after they leave the building will inevitably impact the organization. As a result, finding an enterprise-grade COVID-19 response and compliance solution is a difficult task.

Coronavirus curves continue to flatten in some regions; cases spike in others, while jurisdictions prepare for a second or third wave during the traditional “flu season.” In preparation for re-opening, businesses in all areas have to plan for employee infections. Preventing and reducing employee spread must be a top priority in order to maximize employee safety and minimize company operating risks.

CDC and OSHA recommended employee health and safety guidelines  should be put in place throughout the facility and new practices instilled around things like distancing, sanitation, hygiene and health checks. The need to automate processes, support communication and shorten the time between contagion, testing and self-isolation is imperative. Companies will need to depend on new technology to simplify the complex problem of keeping sick workers home and clearing healthy workers to come to work. Letting employees know that their health and wellness is a top priority is just as important as the safety measures themselves.  

The Rules for Returning to Work

The CDC’s readiness for business checklist emphasizes three main pillars needed to bring people back safely: engineering, administrative and personal protective equipment (PPE), which cover procedures for facilities and equipment, management and communications. Workspace configurations, social distancing requirements, capacity limits, cleaning protocols, employee training, policy creation and communication strategies all need to be addressed as part of a thorough COVID-19 action plan.

Getting the nuances of safe interactions and new cultural dynamics right, while altering the behavior of employees, will take planning and ongoing effort. New procedures will operate concurrently to standard business practices, potentially straining existing resources including new stresses exacerbated by the learning curve and lingering uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus.

Technology to Ease the Transition

That’s why we’re seeing tech companies with a range of ideas and expertise (Salesforce, PwC, Apple/Google) step up to augment manual efforts and reduce the burden of compliance on staff.  Like Healthy Together, many are finding new ways to apply their core technologies and help safely re-open our businesses.

The scope of potential solutions might include things like internal enterprise location aware technology adapted for corporate campus contact tracing, wearables that alert workers who may be too close to each other, dashboards to manage and monitor protective processes, chatbots and AI to automate health status reports and apps that communicate policies based on where a user might be. Use cases are ever-evolving.

Our Healthy Together native apps and case management tools make it easy for companies to standardize their COVID-19 plans and facilitate clearing employees for their return to the office. It gives employers the important information they need to control transmission within their premises, while giving users full control over their data.

Privacy As A Policy

Through assessment, test coordination and result delivery, contact tracing and communication, the Healthy Together response system shortens the time from contagion and testing to self-isolation. If a positive test occurs, back-end integration allows Human Resources/Health Officials to expedite contact tracing and easily manage the status of employees.

Guided contact tracing features within the app let users give detailed information about where they’ve been and who they were in contact with while preserving their privacy. The survey can be done on their own time, leading to increased completion rates.  

The solution is connected to a securely hosted portal or data feed that supports contact tracers’ discovery and notification efforts. Information is saved only when a user has given permission. In fact, users always control their data. They choose what to share and when to delete. Overall, the data collected is limited to COVID-related health efforts. After 30-days, symptom checker information is anonymized and other information is permanently deleted. Of course, all data is secure and fully encrypted in transit and at rest.

A Clear Way to Clear Employees For Work

In the Healthy Together Passport, employees privately report how they’re feeling each day through a simple daily symptom checker that’s tailored to each organization. Once the assessment is done, an employee is either cleared for work or recommended for COVID-19 testing.

If needed, Healthy Together helps the individual find and schedule a test and delivers validated lab results directly in-app. Dynamic updates ensure testing center information is accurate. Daily assessments are saved for the user to track their status over time.

The Passport feature can be integrated with badging and other entry management systems and shows a clear status to the employer: green is cleared for work and red is high risk and urges isolation and medical attention.

Our system also facilitates timely communications to employees through custom, automated notifications and alerts.

Going Back to the Office Safely

Those who were fortunate to work remotely during these times are grateful, but it’s clear that many employees and employers alike are eager to return to their offices. Companies are keen to give them the opportunity but not without ensuring employee health and safety.

While some complications can’t be eased, the process of clearing people for the office must be effortless for employees to perform and the results easy for employers to understand. Simple technology tools and automation will make this possible and ultimately more effective.

The way forward is new to us all. Technology is making it less daunting.