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The million-dollar question: how can we bring employees back to the office safely?

London’s offices are now more than half full for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Our Occupancy Index showed that on Thursday 6th May, offices were 50.51% occupied, and a new high was set on Tuesday 11th May when occupancy hit 51.44%. 

Flexible working seems set to stay popular, but there is still a clear need to ensure that the office is a safe and healthy environment for those who chose to go in.

With more and more employees commuting to work, there is one big question companies are asking: how can we bring employees back to the office safely?

We’ve broken it down to three key things that we think need to be considered:

  1. Indoor air quality monitoring
  2. Occupancy monitoring
  3. Smart cleaning

Office interior

Indoor air quality monitoring

As we’re all well aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for healthier indoor air. 

Employees are quite rightly expecting some assurance that their employers are taking steps to improve air quality in the workplace. Companies that fail to do so not only risk facilitating the transmission of COVID-19, but adversely impacting employee health, wellbeing and productivity.

Poor indoor air quality and insufficient ventilation can lead to Sick Building Syndrome symptoms like headaches, drowsiness, and loss of concentration. High levels of CO2 can also cause up to an 11% reduction in productivity and up to a 23% impairment in decision making.

Real-time indoor air quality monitoring allows you to track key factors including:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs)
  • Particulate matter (PM2.5)

And more importantly, a smart building platform can show you what these values should be, and how the current values could be impacting employees. You can even set up smart alerts to notify you when factors deviate from their optimal zone, so that steps can be taken to maintain good indoor air quality at all times.

Occupancy monitoring

As more employees make their way back to the office, spaces like lunch areas are likely to become overcrowded at specific times.

Occupancy monitoring is the best way to ensure that all employees have the space required to remain a safe distance apart throughout the day. With access to accurate data, it’s easy to understand and control how the workplace is being used.

Companies can see how many employees are on each floor or in certain areas, and even which specific desks are occupied or vacant. This data can be used to limit the number of people in a given space at any time, or to redirect them to quieter areas. There’s no need for privacy concerns, as anonymous sensing technology does not use cameras to detect people.

Monitoring occupancy levels will not only be hugely effective in protecting employees from person-to-person transmission, but will help to give them peace of mind so they feel safe and comfortable in their workplace.

Smart cleaning

Just like air quality, the COVID-19 pandemic has also made us much more aware of the importance of hygiene and cleanliness.

Keeping an office clean can no longer just be about vacuuming the carpets and clearing away used mugs at the end of the day. It needs to be about cleaning proactively to reduce the risk of virus transmission and keep employees safe.

By installing sensors, it’s easy to track cleaning frequencies and get alerts when cleaning is needed. Occupancy monitoring can also identify the areas that tend to be used most frequently and at what specific times. 

This enables the creation of a cleaning schedule that’s more flexible, responsive and effective. When it comes to making the office as safe as possible, it’s all about cleaning smarter, not harder.

What are you waiting for?

As the return to the office continues to gather pace, ensuring employee safety and wellbeing is key. Adopting smart technology is the best way for companies to get ahead of the curve and make the return to work as safe and seamless as possible. 

To learn about how you can make your space work smarter, not harder, speak to our Workplace Experience expert today.

And if you’re interested in making your office smart right away, you can order our Smart Building Starter Kit right now.