As the coronavirus continues to take its toll on communities and economies around the globe, some states have already started to lift lockdown orders, enabling organizations to reopen for the first time in weeks. This has positioned many leaders in the middle of a rather precarious situation that is balancing public safety alongside a host of major day-to-day operational adjustments during an ongoing global pandemic. To assist, Salesforce recently announced the unveiling of work.com, a set of streamlined solutions to help organizations reopen safely as they adjust their policies and procedures on the fly. Salesforce will be rolling out the full work.com platform over the next few weeks. Some offerings will be released later this month and the full suite of components will be available in June.
SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)
Self-reporting symptoms and new workplace protocols
Moving forward, one of the biggest challenges will involve monitoring the wellness of employees to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in-house. This will require some entirely new protocols at the workplace and elsewhere, such as temperature checks before entering the building and more. Organizations will also want to monitor employee health prior to arriving at the office to further mitigate these risks. This includes a self-reporting system enabling employees to share symptoms and positive COVID-19 tests with their employers. Of course, with these new measures will come a slew of privacy and data collection concerns, especially among impacted employees.
“We’re going to see how public safety trumps privacy for a little bit of time. The thing I would tell most employers and employees is that’s why it’s super critical that we do so in an opt-in manner. These solutions are going to be opt-in for employee ease and peace of mind to submit their data to their employer,” said Bill Patterson, EVP and GM of CRM apps at Salesforce.
By incorporating this data into a central hub, the platform will exist as a real-time dashboard reflecting employee wellness. Additionally, the work.com platform will enable organizations to more aptly trace contacts after a positive test. Individuals who may have been exposed can be notified and appropriate teams dispatched to disinfect contaminated areas.
Shift management solutions
Over the past decade, the open floor plan has become the standard model across industries. However, as anyone who has been inundated with graphics depicting sneeze particulate airflows is well aware, this simply isn’t going to cut it. That said, the new office will certainly exist in stark contrast to the standard pre-COVID-19 workplace. This overall remodeling will undoubtedly involve the reemergence of the cubical to promote greater social distancing. However, there are other logistical issues to address such as strategies to reduce the sheer number of people in the office or an elevator at a given time.
“We need to understand building flow. We need to understand the queues and the bottlenecks of movement in that building to make sure that we can maximize the flow rates within offices and spaces,” Patterson said. “The shift management application is designed to help with planning and rostering for workforces to best manage occupancy and density.”
The included work.com shift management solutions are tailored to assist with this particular challenge allowing organizations to reduce overcrowding in the lobby of buildings, stagger arrival times, reduce elevator occupancy, and more. It’s also possible to bring third-party vendors onto the platform and account for these individuals for scheduling purposes.
Designed with developers in mind
Overall, this suite of solutions allows organizations to tailor the platform to fit their specific needs. Companies can integrate existing parts of their technical infrastructure into the platform to further enhance this personalized command center.
“We know that we can’t solve every problem, and that’s why we created this in an open way. Work.com is intended to be an open platform that developers can access and build on based on their specific needs. We want this to be shared and integrated to give us a common set of data and common set of standards to help make decisions,” Patterson said.
These necessary solutions will vary across industries as organizations look to more aptly manage the public safety component alongside their daily operational requirements. For example, we’ve seen companies starting to roll out their own unique proactive defense strategies ranging from facial recognition to ensure employees are wearing masks to thermal imaging cameras to pinpoint elevated temperatures indicative of a fever.
Organizations are now juggling a vast spectrum of applications to cope with this crisis. Needless to say, attempts to string together some semblance of a synergetic strategy from myriad independent solutions have proved problematic. Patterson used the aforementioned real-time coronavirus monitoring systems as an illustrative example.
“Most operations leaders are struggling with bespoke applications. They have the facial scan application, the temperature reading applications, the building flow applications, and building spec applications. All of those are completely siloed. What we’re trying to do is bring them all together in an open platform,” Patterson said.
Insights from industry experts and supply chain management
Overall, the platform is designed to merge multiple applications into one cohesive system. However, other portions of work.com are engineered to bring the latest information and advice directly to the organizations without the need to personally shift through mountains of information to guide in-house strategy.
“I think unfortunately the climate that we’re in right now is incredibly polarizing, and so what we wanted to do is combine information from the world’s leading innovators, health experts, and business leaders to really come up with a set of standards that organizations can leverage to incorporate into their own policy design,” Patterson said.
Moving forward: A surreal new normal
There’s no way to tell how long this pandemic will continue to spread around the globe. However, one thing appears to be certain moving forward: We’ve unknowingly entered a new normal from a social and professional standpoint, and there’s no going back. The scale and speed at which this pandemic brought the global economy to a standstill will not soon be forgotten and many of these new safety measures and data collection systems are probably here for the foreseeable future if not permanently.