Coronavirus: How safe are offices for working

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Lockdown is now being relaxed in many countries of the world. Gradually offices are also opening. In such a situation, there is a fear in the mind of the people whether it is safe to go to their office. Along with all the old-fashioned methods, there is going to be a further increase in the use of technology to monitor employees. Now there will be thermal cameras to take your temperature while entering the building. Also, many such apps or wearables can also be used, which will alert you when one of your colleagues is more close. Offices may soon be making you feel like a Minority Report movie.



A few years ago, The Edge Building in Amsterdam received the most votes as the world's smartest and most sustainable building. Now, this building with sensors filled offices is trying to mold itself with the new truth of living with a fast-spreading virus. Koen van Oostrom, the founder of the real estate firm that built the building, told the BBC that there were some changes that could be implemented immediately.


Air quality

He says, "The doors can be opened by hand at the moment, but opening them through voice control or app will be a minor step. We want to make sure that the virus does not spread this way. He says, 'We have cameras that can show how many people are on the floor and through software updates it can also be known how far people are standing. If people come closer to each other, we can also send them a warning on the phone. Oostrom explains, "Not everyone will like this thing and many people may consider it interference in their privacy, so we have not decided to use it yet."

Unlike most other buildings, The Edge is already giving employees a phone app through which they can know what the office temperature is and how the air quality is. At the same time, they are also being given the freedom to order lunch from the office canteen. Earlier there was no focus on air quality. Ostrom says that it is now believed that if there is not enough quantity of fresh air, the virus can spread and because of this people are now noticing it.

There will be a change in the seating plan

The seating plan will also have to be changed so that the rules of social distance can be followed. But Susanne Clarke, a smart building expert at research firm Verdantics, says companies rarely make any major changes to their working practices. She says, 'The seats will remain a short distance from each other. In the kind of economic slowdown we are seeing, most companies will be unable to take up more office space. But, it will definitely be thought about and it will be cleaned again and again to make them infection-free.

Some lighting companies such as Vital Vaio are offering products such as Safe Disinfection Lighting. They use white light along with white light so that some bacteria on the surface can be killed. They can be used in hotels or offices with more people.

Temperature testing

FLIR technology has been making thermal cameras used in airports and on police helicopters for years. But, in the last few months, there has been a sharp jump in their demand. Now the company is getting demand from factories and businesses. Ezra Merrill, Flir's Vice President (Marketing), says, "Every industry concerned about the safety of its workers and customers is showing interest in it." These cameras take temperatures in an area of ​​five square millimeters near the tear duct. This place is considered the most suitable for taking skin temperature. People wearing glasses have to remove them. Its algorithm takes into account the time of day, weather, and many other things.

Merrill says that it is also necessary to take the temperature from a medical-grade thermometer with this device. This technology was recently tested in a factory in the US and received mixed reactions. The camera does not take pictures and it is difficult to identify people through images, despite this, Merrill believes that privacy issues can come up. In some places, it can also be considered illegal.

Is technology necessary

Loire Ravi Nayak says that businesses have to be cautious about using technology just to say no. He says, "Can it tell who can work and who doesn't?" And if this cannot be done, then what is the use of this technique? Since it interferes with basic human rights, the rationale of this technique has to be tested before using it. I don't think we should do anything like that right now. '

Barclays Bank Chief Executive Jess Stelle has said that the era of thousands of employees in offices in large expensive cities has probably passed. Experience working from home is telling us that many people can work very well from home. Van Ostrom would obviously disagree with this. He thinks that a hybrid model can come where more people will work from home and the employer will try to entice people to come to the office.