The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the traditional work-from-office models and enforced months of work from home (WFH) due to the prolonged lockdowns. Now that many countries have lifted lockdowns, enterprises are increasingly willing to reopen their physical offices by redesigning them with digital solutions centred around employee safety and wellbeing, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Kiran Raj, Principal Disruptive Tech Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The WFH models in response to the COVID-19 crisis have seen success better than imagined. However, companies are uncertain if the success is because WFH is viewed as a temporary measure and hence are prepping for back-to-office with the promise of a safe work environment by employing digital technologies.”

The Innovation Explorer database of GlobalData’s Disruptor Intelligence Center uncovers digital solutions for enterprises around workplace wellbeing and productive remote working that illustrate the ‘office of the future’ in the pandemic-prepped world, where some of the trending use cases are:

Thermal Screening

Oregon tech vendor FLIR Systems has equipped its thermal imaging cameras to enable companies to automatically scan elevated skin temperatures near the tear duct of their employees, which can give an accurate measurement of the core body temperature. It also activates an alarm in real-time in case of abnormal readings.

Contact Tracing and Social Distancing

German startup Kinexon utilises motion tracking sensors to help companies trace chains of the infection among employees and practice social distancing at workplaces. It features a wearable sensor that warns the employee when the pre-set threshold physical distance with another employee is compromised.

Smart Space Booking

Salesforce’s new software ‘’ can help a company’s employees to reserve time to use lifts, book lunch breaks and fill regular health assessments. It orchestrates the way employees utilise the office space and reduce workplace density to contain the spread of the virus.

Raj continues: “The COVID-19 crisis has propelled enterprises to investigate WFH as a long-term viable alternative from just an option previously. The prevailing WFH revolution is only the beginning and is poised to take a new shape in the post-pandemic era backed by digital infrastructure.”

Collaboration Tools

California startup has launched a deep neural network (DNN) to address the noise conundrum during remote conferencing. It acts as an additional layer between the microphone and conferencing apps to prevent external noises to pass through. The DNN supports over 800 conferencing apps, including Skype, Zoom and Webex.

Productivity Trackers

Boston startup enaible has introduced an AI-powered WFH surveillance tool to help companies improve employee performance through tailored recommendations. It leverages machine learning to standardize productivity scores and determine optimal work patterns.

Mental Health

US startup Humu, floated by Google veterans, uses AI to sift through employee surveys to discover behavioral aspects that can enhance their happiness while working remotely. It uses pop-ups and text messages to nudge employees to improve their overall wellbeing.

Raj concludes: “Companies are keen to adopt digital technologies that can create a safe office environment for employees returning to work. Nevertheless, the office of the future is expected to be more flexible between work-from-office and WFH models compared to yestertimes. This kind of hybrid work culture may increase the appetite for enterprise-vendor collaboration to build a robust digital infrastructure that is persistently rewarding.”

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