The Covid pandemic has forced organisations across myriad sectors to reconsider their work practices. The mass shift to remote and hybrid working is perhaps the most obvious and dramatic, but there are countless other shifts to consider too. From the layout of office spaces, to the ongoing monitoring of staff health and wellbeing, post-Covid workplaces are going to look very different to those that went before.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is already playing a crucial role in enabling many of these changes. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which IoT technology is underpinning post-Covid workplaces.
Thermal cameras and mask detection
From early on in the pandemic, it became important for venues of many different types to quickly, efficiently and hygienically check people’s temperatures as they entered the premises. This relies on thermal cameras – not a brand-new technology by any means, but one which can be integrated with the IoT via access control systems. Many office buildings have established solutions at their entrances which automatically scan staff’s temperatures before allowing them access – a quick and easy way of protecting the workforce from infection, and potentially also of gathering data over time as to the health of the workforce. Taking this one step further, some organisations may choose to integrate automatic mask detection systems, which automatically issues reminders to employees who turn up without face protection.
Enforcing social distancing
A system of IoT tags which automatically find each other when within a particular range – and issuing an alert if necessary – can be used for the basis of an array of social distancing techniques within office settings. Whether keeping particular groups of employees separated safely from each other, or ensuring that key pieces of hardware are not move to particular locations before being disinfected, or even ensuring proper spacing in queues and other crowded settings, these tags have myriad uses. Such solutions can be particularly useful in manufacturing or construction settings, with large groups of people coming and going, but also have plenty of applications in offices, monitoring occupancy, limiting access to already at-capacity spaces and reminding people of places where they should not sit.
Tracking employee health and wellbeing
Telehealth solutions are a rich and growing aspect of the broader IoT industry – we’ve blogged before about everything from wearable to implantable solutions which monitor key health metrics and even help to deliver medical treatments and interventions. In a post-Covid world, not only are employees likely to be more motivated than ever before to monitor their health and wellbeing, but employers will have a vested interest in both supporting that health and wellbeing, and potentially offering related benefits.
Perhaps, then, we will see scenarios in which major employers compete to offer the most comprehensive telehealth solutions to their staff, enabling them to consult with healthcare professionals remotely. Or, perhaps wearable devices which enable staff to keep an eye on metrics like temperature and heart rate on an ongoing basis will become a common workplace perk.
The post-Covid working world will not be static. Many different dimensions of productivity and efficiency, wellbeing and comfort, safety and sustainability still need to be explored. But it certainly seems clear that IoT technology will be at the heart of shaping it.