Ben O’Brien, ID Card Centre

Ben O’Brien, ID Card Centre

Businesses should harness the power of technology to help ensure the safety of their employees when they return to the workplace, says Ben O’Brien, Managing Director of ID Card Centre, an access control provider.

Businesses should harness the power of technology to help ensure the safety of their employees when they return to the workplace, says Ben O’Brien.

He says: “Whilst everybody’s mentalities are going to need to change in order to get used to the new norm, bringing in technology to help prevent infections from spreading will make everybody’s lives easier and rebuild confidence to in workplace safety. A lot of people are going to be nervous if they have been cooped up, staying safe for many months working from home, and they will need to know that new measures are in place to protect them.”

Employers should start by using technology to control access to their workplace with the use of access cards or fobs so they know exactly who is there at any time, he says. If businesses already use some form of access control, they need to make sure their employee details are up to date so that the right people will be able to use it, including any new employees who have been hired in the past few months while working from home.

Technology can also be used to scan the temperature of everyone entering a building, as they pass. The results link to their access control, so they will be only be allowed in if their temperature is within a healthy range. Businesses have the choice of pedestal temperature sensors which automatically test everybody as they arrive, handheld devices which check people manually, or a CCTV camera which will detect anyone with a high temperature at a specific pinch point such as an entrance. It is always a contactless and fast process.

Ben says: “Employing technology such as temperature sensing adds an additional layer of security and confidence.”

Technology which is linked to your access control system, can also prevent over-crowding in offices and enable people to adhere to social distancing rules. Occupancy level monitoring for example, can be used to monitor how many people are in a particular room, and then prevent more people from entering once the limit has been reached.

Ben says: “As long as everybody is swiping their fob or card as they go through, it will monitor how many people are in the room and physically stop more people from getting in if it is too full. So you can make sure that people can exercise social distancing which unfortunately I think will be required for some time in the future.”

This technology can also be used to control access to specific groups of people at specific times to reduce occupancy levels. He says: “You can, for example, make sure that your cleaners can only get in out of hours so that you are not having unnecessary contact.”

Ben says businesses can also use technology to make simple adjustments to the office, such as replacing the green exit button with an inexpensive contactless device costing around £30 that does not require someone to touch it in order to activate it. They can also do what he has done in his own office and cover all door handles with copper tape, which is naturally anti-bacterial, to provide an additional layer of protection.

Ben says that with the vaccination programme now well underway, businesses need to start thinking about these issues now and begin planning ahead for the return of employees to the workplace, in order to prevent problems nearer the time.

“It is definitely a good time to start thinking about it and putting a plan in place so that everything runs smoothly on the day. You don’t want to create a backlog of people trying to get into the building as then you run the risk of creating a crowd.”

He says showing your employees you are thinking carefully about these issues will also reassure them it will be safe to return.

“It is important to keep the communication lines open to make sure that every member of staff feels confident their welfare is being considered and thought through carefully.”

He says businesses should be doing everything they can to help employees feel comfortable in returning to the office once they are allowed to.

“Whilst certain roles do suit working from home, there are lots of benefits to working in an environment with others around you, such as bouncing off ideas. For a lot of people, the social element is why they enjoy going to work in the first place.”

Ben’s Top Tips for growing businesses

1. Plan ahead

2. Get your staff credentials checked and ensure that their access and identity cards are up to date

3. Communicate with your employees

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