Digital Signage and the New Normal Workplace

Part I: Office Spaces

Also see Part 2: Schools | Part 3: Food & Beverage

Work from home is the new normal? Not so fast.

Despite the impact and dangers of COVID-19, it would be naïve to believe that the world can just flip a switch and everyone will be able to work remotely. If that were true then the economy would still be moving and the unemployment rate would not be at depression-era levels. Putting aside the fact that not everyone has the type of job that they can do remotely, there are a number of different reasons that while work-from-home will become more common, it won’t be the normal.

Some People Don’t Want to Work from Home

Work from home works for some people, but not everyone. For some, the office is their social environment. Some are more productive at home and others find too many distractions at home. Although there will be many that embrace remote access, there will be many who will choose to return to the office environment.

Financial Considerations

Employers have invested in hardware, furniture and other office-related assets. There are multi-year leases, building ownership, and even full campuses in some cases. The real estate alone can be worth millions of dollars and selling property is always an option, but if the value of office space falls significantly due to large supply and low demand, that is not a particularly attractive option.

Philosophical Beliefs

Some employers just don’t believe in work-from-home for any reason and will ban it outright as soon as they are able. People can argue the validity of that type of decision, but it does not change the fact that some people do think that way.

Secondary Economic Pressures

Companies can’t make their decisions based on outside factors, but the fact is that there are a large number of industries that would be severely impacted by massive work-from-home. Building cleaners, local restaurants, and landscaping to name a few. In many cases there are contracts in place for those services.

Returning to the New Normal

In the end, offices will re-open and employees will return. In order to be successful employers will need to understand and address their employee’s concerns. In return, employees need to cooperate with the employer’s safety measures. Above all, everyone needs to work together or we’ll end up right back where we started. The key question is: how do companies welcome workers back to the office environment safely?

Using Technology to Adapt to the New Normal

Just like we used technology to enable those who were able to transition to work from home when the pandemic hit, employers can use technology to help transition to a return-to-work new normal. A combination of digital kiosks with touchless hand sanitizers and integrated temperature checks working with networked digital displays provide levels of safety, security and communication.

Safety Starts at the Door

A digital kiosk with integrated touchless hand sanitizer and temperature check can be placed at any entrance to a workspace. For those with controlled access buildings, a successful temperature check can automatically unlock the entrance, where a failed temperature check would keep the door locked and send an alert. Kiosks can be positioned internally at key common areas like elevator banks or cafeterias where employee interaction is more likely. The hand sanitizer helps keep hands clean before entering, limiting the chances of community spread. The messaging on the wireless digital display can be a static image with basic hand washing instructions, news and alerts, HD video, or any number of other options. Hand sanitizer digital kiosks help keep your internal environments safer by helping to guard against infection from entering in the first place.

The Importance of Internal Communication

Employees in a building need to be kept informed, regardless of the nature of the work environment. In addition to its normal function, digital signage can display key information and updates in real time. They can use zoned-based layouts to customize communications to specific groups within a workplace or even issue emergency alerts. Remote access and control mean administrators don’t have to access digital screens directly to update content or perform maintenance, removing another outside factor from entering work areas.

Innovating Safety with Digital Signage Technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a surge of innovation to address ongoing safety needs. Communication and health are two key factors, but the abilities of digital sign systems are being applied in different ways to help mitigate any potential spread within workplaces. Digital signs have long incorporated wayfinding abilities to help visitors find stores in shopping malls. Now wayfinding is being used to help direct traffic flow and prevent people from wandering around looking for their destination, thereby limiting groups of people in common areas. Touch screens have been a common interface on our devices, but with the advent of COVID-19 touching common screens is a potential threat for spread. While touchscreen is still an option, gesture control is starting to be used for contactless interaction. Video calls are now common on our smartphones, and that technology has carried over into digital signage as a way to interact in real time without travelling to another area of a building or standing directly face-to-face. Other technologies such as mask-detection, occupancy counting, queues, smartphone interaction, and more are all part of an integrated solution that works together to help limit spread.

Competitive Advantage

As the economy continues to re-start some people will be able to continue to work remotely, but a majority of others will begin to return to offices. There are some who will not be comfortable with their employer’s effort to protect them and will face a difficult choice: Return to an unsafe environment or choose to look elsewhere for employment. Employers who invest in protecting their human are more likely to keep their key personnel when returning to their physical buildings. Those who do not implement safety measures are in danger of losing good employees who refuse to take chances with their health. Highly skilled workers who choose not to return to unsafe environments will be attracted to opportunities with employers who make the effort to protect their people. Taking key health and safety measures is in the employer’s best interest.

Stopping COVID-19 is a Team Effort

There is no one single solution to dealing with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if a successful vaccine or treatment is developed, there will be those that don’t take it for a variety of reasons. It’s not going away any time soon. It’s up to us to put as many safety factors in place and to educate and communicate as much as we can to help suppress the spread of this virus. All of these factors will contribute to an overall protective shield against transmission. People will be returning to their workplaces. The only real question is what steps employers will take to protect their employees. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has outlined recommendations for re-opening, and included in them are cleaning your hands and effective use of signage. Digital kiosks with integrated touchless hand sanitizer and temperature check help meet those recommendations. Used in conjunction with digital displays and all of the technological advantages they offer, employers have some of the key tools required to safely and effectively welcome people back to the workplace.

The Role of Corum Digital

Corum Digital is a technology company that focuses on creating innovative, highly reliable and easy to use technologies. Corum Digital has been using its expertise in digital signage technology to engage, educate, and empower audiences. That same technology is now being incorporated into our COVID-19 response. We are leveraging the abilities of our digital signage along with our content management and communications systems to create a safer office environment and help people and companies get moving again.

What Corum Digital Can Do for Your Company

We are currently engaged with existing and new clients to develop custom solutions to help get their companies to not just return to normal, but to be even more successful than they were before. Speak to our experts to find out what we can do for you.