Many companies are starting to plan their return to work strategies. It’s only a matter of time before the economy, which ground to a halt, is jump-started.
Businesses will be allowed to reopen and continue operations, but not without stringent workplace protection plans in place. Contactless work environments are going to be vital to safe and healthy workplaces in the foreseeable future.
The beauty — or saving grace, if you will — is that technology can help facilitate future connections by allowing people to maintain safe distances while still working collaboratively. Smart offices will be the future of work environments. That said, what kind of interactions or processes can we automate and make smarter, to augment the contactless work environment that’s going to be necessary from here on out?
The answer, of course, is to implement a comprehensive network of touchless interactions. The average employee engagement will see a massive transformation when this is all over.
What Are Touchless Interactions?
By definition, touchless interactions are any engagements, coordinations or communications that don’t require a direct touch to shared devices, physical surroundings etc.
For example, a touchscreen kiosk or directory would need to be upgraded in a “touchless” environment to allow for voice commands or other forms of operation. Hand gesture controls are another excellent example. That way, visitors and employees alike don’t even have to interact with the item(s) through traditional touch. It reduces high exposure areas.
Brainstorming What A “Touchless” World Will Look Like
To dig a little deeper into the concept of a touchless interaction — or touchless world on a grander scale — it makes sense to consider the practical use-cases. What would you see out in the real world? What will organizations be using, and how will they implement touchless interactions for various applications?
Many restaurants and food delivery services have been forced to develop new business channels. Going forward, those same services will become permanent solutions for honoring social distance guidelines. Phone and online orders with quick pick-up or delivery options are helping to mitigate contact between people.
Another element, however, relates to decreasing foot traffic entirely through remote ordering and communication platforms. More people ordering food via mobile apps and digital kiosks means fewer people waiting around and spreading potential disease. Shorter wait times also mean shorter lines and faster service. This is something we’ll see with corporate on-site lunch and meal services going forward.
Contactless payment solutions have never been more crucial than they are now. Retailers, hospitality and service providers will be using new, innovative solutions for monetary transactions. Everything from mobile and contactless payments to digital currencies are on the table. Imagine paying for a bag of chips or candy-bar at a vending machine on company property with a unique digital currency.
Massive conferences and in-person events will see a monumental overhaul so that when they do happen, virtual technologies will be commonplace. Interacting with booths and event stations will be done entirely via mobile devices and app-based connections. Meetings and conferences will be carried out via telecommuting platforms. In-person experiences will honor limited attendance counts with proper social distancing guidelines for everyone on-site.
Spacial reservations — for desks, conference rooms, workout areas, common rooms and more — can cut down on confusion and eliminate free-roaming on large properties. People understand exactly where they’re supposed to be and when, as opposed to wandering or waiting to find a suitable space.
Mobile smart campus solutions allow visitors to book different physical spaces based on individual needs. Near-field communication or NFC can also empower this process by allowing people to reserve places by merely being near them.
Even something as simple as on-site trash cans and disposal units will be outfitted with contactless solutions. Employee health, campus cleanliness, and overall wellness have surged in the overall workplace consideration catalog. For smaller trash cans foot pedals are the obvious implementation. Connected receptacles with sensors will reveal when the cans are full, what type of garbage is inside and much more. What about smart dust bins and other janitorial implementations.
AUTHENTICATION AND ACCESS
Direct contact with doors is going to be decreased as much as possible, with digital badges and automatic entry points taking precedence. The same sensors will also be used to control lighting, heating and cooling, water access and more. This has called for a rise in smart, connected IoT devices that can communicate with each other and the user accessing them. At the same time, property security will benefit as a result, leaving those without proper authentication unable to access facilities.
Smart networking interactions and engagements will be implemented to help colleagues and visitors chat with one another. Imagine a nifty neon badge that signifies a fist bump or thumbs up, which colleagues can exchange with one another. Think Facebook “likes” and social network interactions, only out in the real world. Taking that a step further, the badges can be either all-digital, or developed using self-sanitizing materials.
Even exchanging information like business cards will be handled this way. A virtual connection via NFC might send your business card right to a potential contact’s phone.
Other, contact-based accessories will see augmentations too. Mobile charging stations, for instance, will quickly become wireless-charging stations. They will cut down on cords for direct engagement with communal technologies, as well as direct connections with other people.
On company property, for instance, you can immediately locate a nearby wireless station. Navigate right to it, place your phone inside with a lock, and move away — presumably somewhere nearby. Similar stations will be placed intermittently around a property or facility for smartphones, laptops, tablets and more.
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Smart, Connected Workplaces Will Be the Way Forward
In a recovering business world - the best approach to ease uncertainties and assure employees of their wellness and importance is to promote contactless engagements in just about every aspect of the modern world.
Reducing the average workplace footprint means developing a smart, connected workplace where direct interactions are eliminated. Workers, visitors and everyone on-site should mainly interact with machines, devices, and other technologies as opposed to people.
It’s not about disconnecting people, though. The reality is the opposite. The technologies bring people together through faster, more direct communications despite physical distancing. In other words, you can work alongside colleagues and still have direct communication and collaboration without breaking social distancing rules.