• Your 5-step technology strategy to keep staff safe and empowered in the office and beyond

As companies re-open after lockdown, technology can play an important part in creating a healthy environment and minimising risk. Here's a five-part technology strategy to create a healthier work environment for your staff, both in the office and beyond.

Detect

Preventing the virus entering the workplace is a sensible first step. Thermal scanners take your temperature by scanning your forehead and have become popular in places ranging from airports to schools. They cannot detect the coronavirus outright but can spot possible indicators of infection. They can be an extra line of defense as part of a broader awareness process that includes asking people suffering from symptoms to stay at home.

Avoid

After stopping potential carriers at the door, it's time to stop others leaving germs in high-traffic areas. No-touch sensors can eliminate the need to touch common surfaces. Use equipment fitted with them to clock employees in and out contact-free. Self-opening doors can also reduce the chance of leaving the virus on common surfaces.

Contact-free technology could also make your environment safer and more convenient for customers who are shying away from cash. Link, which manages the UK's ATM network, reported that cash usage was down 50% nation-wide in the initial weeks of the crisis.

Touch-free technology can also help with customer interactions. A small investment in tap-and-go payment technology could help improve customer safety while offering faster payment, accelerating throughput when social distancing means fewer customers at your premises.

Eradicate

You can't stop people touching every surface, so proper cleaning is still important. Type-C ultraviolet light (UVC) "probably" destroys the coronavirus, according to the National Academy of Sciences in the US. There are no peer-reviewed studies at the time of writing, but it has successfully eradicated other viruses in the past.

Companies have created innovative UVC solutions for work surfaces, including flying disinfection drones. For most of us not living in the 22nd century, though, a simple handheld sanitizing light should do.

Don't forget to complement UVC surface cleaners with safe, effective hand sanitizer, disinfection products and hand washing stations for employees.

Organize

After taking these physical measures, turn your attention to organization. The UK government recommends social distancing at work, with employees ideally coming no closer than two metres from each other. One way to enforce this is via staggered shifts and work breaks so that there are fewer people in the office concurrently, but managing that can be complex.

Employee management software that can reshuffle working hours quickly will help companies to adapt employee scheduling and payments to cope with rapidly changing conditions.

Extend

Where applicable, extend the workplace outside the office to help keep the business running while respecting social distancing rules. Consider laptops that they can use to stay productive remotely. VPN technology can help them to access company resources while away from the building, and access to a cloud productivity suite like Microsoft 365 can help them to collaborate with others safely.

Many of these technologies have benefits beyond employee safety. They can introduce productivity gains that will make it easier for employees to work together and customer experience enhancements that can boost revenues. Maybe technology can create opportunities, even in the middle of a crisis.