Was it only February of this year that we could still get ‘up close and personal’ with our work colleagues? From common desk layouts, that seat workers face to face, through to the widespread use of touch technology that all could use without a second thought, we were comfortable with a level of personal closeness that felt natural and collaborative. How things change.
The government guidance is clear
For organisations to re-open, they must plan to minimise both face to face working and the use of touch based devices. Finding new ways to tackle these challenges is a central part to any company’s return to work strategy. And when we analyse the areas where face to face contact occurs, or touch technology is enabled, we realise how widespread the potential for cross infection is.
The trouble is, most offices are open plan. A 2019 survey by the commercial division of property company Savills showed that 73% of UK workers use an open-plan office. What’s more, we’re all working more closely than ever before. The British Council of Offices state that the average space per workstation in the UK dropped by over 2 square metres in the decade from 2008 to 2018. That means the proximity of workers has increased.
And it’s not just our desks that pose a problem. Pre lockdown, business professionals were spending at least three hours a week in physical meetings. In small meeting rooms, space restrictions can make it impossible to avoid face to face interactions. In large rooms, there’s more chance of audio enhancements such as a central microphone system. Here’s yet another danger area for droplet contamination as people gather around it.
The GoBright space management system helps organisations manage their meeting rooms and desk spaces, all in a contact free environment
Through the system each desk can be assigned a status – bookable, closed, or awaiting cleaning. Desks that are opposite others can be strategically marked as closed and workers accessing the system to reserve a space will not be able to book these workstations. The method of desk booking and management is totally contactless. Reservations are made in a mobile app or on a desktop, whilst check in and desk release can be done either through an automated motion sensor, or via contactless RFID card.
As far as meetings are concerned, there’s no reason why team members can’t continue to have their three hours in face to face meetings a week, as long as social distancing can be effectively maintained and rooms can be booked and accessed in a contact free manner.
GoBright’s functionality solves these dilemmas too
Room booking can be managed via an app or the GoBright portal. Other usually available methods, such as through a map kiosk or room touch screen, can be temporarily disabled – and easily re-enabled as government guidance evolves to allow their use. The kiosk and room display can remain as information sources on room status, but without any need to touch them. Impractically small meetings rooms can be assigned a ‘closed’ status, making them unbookable, whilst larger rooms can have their maximum occupancy levels reduced. Employees searching for a room will only be given the option of those that can safely accommodate the number of people attending.
Once the meeting is underway, the issue of hearing all contributions from people sitting far apart from one another is easily solved with Nureva’s HDL300 audio conferencing solution. At the core of the HDL300 is Nureva’s Microphone Mist technology. It’s a game changing technology that fills the room with over 8000 virtual microphones to pick up participants’ voices, no matter which direction they are facing or where in the room they are seated.
With the right tools, organisations can develop their safe working strategies to allow work to continue as normal, even if our behaviours have to change. By combining innovative technologies, Ascentae can deliver total solutions to manage contact free working at safe distances.
Access the Government guidance document ‘Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres’ here.
Clauses relating to this blog can be found on pages 5, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 20