Complex Made Simple

The more hands-off the contactless office is, the weirder it gets

Perhaps we are so closely tango-dancing with worker safety, we’ve gone over the edge when it comes to the post-COVID-19 future contactless office

Projectors offer a more flexible, inclusive, and collaborative tool, where remote employees can also annotate Air filtration systems that use ultra-violet light can be very helpful to control risks Businesses will deploy speech-to-text software to eliminate the need for input devices like keyboards and mice

Perhaps we are so closely tango-dancing with worker safety, we’ve gone over the edge when it comes to the post-COVID-19 future contactless office.

I mean, sure, certain things like spacing, cameras, and hygiene extreme are understandable, but when robots start delivering our computers to our desks for fear of someone touching them, it starts to get a bit obscene.

Let’s start with what’s reasonable and practical.

Remote printing 

Jason McMillan, Sales Director, Epson Middle East, recently shared with AMEinfo that Middle East (ME) organizations are moving towards a “New Normal” with a mix of remote work and offices re-opening, smart technology services, especially in printing, in order to enable the socially distanced workplace.

A recent PwC survey shows that 76% of Chief Financial Officers in the ME are implementing workplace safety measures, including 85% of respondents in the UAE. 54% of ME organizations are driving automation.

Particularly when it comes to office printing, businesses can reduce touch points, help make employees more efficient, reduce servicing, and optimize overall printing costs.

Organizations are setting up digital workflows, with supporting documents being uploaded as images captured with mobile phones.

Contactless printing solutions, such as Epson Print Admin, also control paper and ink wastage.

Cloud-based solutions, such as Epson Connect, can allow employees to remotely print documents from their mobile devices.

Remote preventative maintenance with Epson Remote Services reduces multiple service repair visits, downtime, and risks of viral infection.

Finally, businesses are leveraging projectors and document cameras to safely bring people back together and maintain social distancing while still able to see material being presented in meetings.

Projectors offer a more flexible, inclusive, and collaborative tool, where remote employees can also annotate, share ideas, and add to group work. Screen sizes can scale up to 350 inches (Almost 9 meters). 

Read: Remote jobs unhealthy, here to stay, but lots left to make digital workflows work

Space and layouts

Social distancing measures have dramatically reshaped the places we work in, including reduced capacity elevators and facilities, staggered start times, and empty seats.     

To ensure workers are socially distanced while sitting at their workstations, office managers need a buffer zone around each desk, comprising a circle with a diameter of 6 feet centered on each desk’s chair. 

Reduce human error as much as possible by placing clear signage in all areas to remind people of the changes that have been made to the office layout. 

Visible signs throughout the office will help reinforce the social distancing guidance and provide reassurance that steps have been taken to create a safer working environment for everyone.

Shared spaces such as conference or break rooms need revised headcounts based on the recommended distance of 6 feet.

Image creditMultiple levels of screening, including taking workers’ temperatures will be the norm. 

Thermal temperature scanners are a big one but unreliable. Temperatures are elevated for many reasons, and up to 25% or more of people infected with the coronavirus don’t have a fever or other symptoms.

Wearables and health apps enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) will become part of the standard tool kit to monitor employee health and physical distances in real-time.

Read: Home office ideas that will make you rethink your workspace

HVAC

The HVAC systems distribute air around the space, so they have a huge impact on the spread and survival of airborne viruses in the air and on surfaces. 

There are several strategies around this but air filtration systems that use ultra-violet light can be very helpful to control risks. UV systems are hidden in the ductwork and companies may look at heavy UV cleaning when everyone has gone home to make sure that the air is as clean it can be.

Ok, now the weird stuff

In the future, we’ll see desktops and laptops shipped to conveniently located hubs, where smart all-terrain robots will deliver the machines to the user’s doorstep. Once delivery is complete, the robots will self-disinfect and return to the autonomous delivery vehicle. 

The movement of these robots will be tracked online using GPS technology, and with ITSM integration, end-users will also be able to track shipments, from service request through delivery.

Innovations in packaging technology, such as particle-repellent cartons will be used for desktops and laptops, complete with disinfectant wipes for further cleaning.

Businesses will eventually deploy speech-to-text software to eliminate the need for input devices like keyboards and mice. Odd!  

Gesture-controlled devices will also make greater inroads. Laptops powered by technologies that provide depth perception and motion-tracking capabilities to embedded cameras, such as Intel® RealSense™  enable recognition of hand gestures and facial features, redefining all future interactions with laptops or desktops. 

And we will look like crazed people talking and waving to inanimate things.

According to IDC, the worldwide spend on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices is expected to grow by more than 80% between 2020 and 2024. Through an AR-VR solution, remote support technicians can provide remote assistance instructions and annotations that appear on the user’s smartphone. This remote visual guidance method can support instant multi-language translation and work on multiple device types.

Not really weird here, but come on, a bit too much virtual and we’ll soon not know the difference between what’s real and what’s not.

Meanwhile, employees would no longer need to press communal buttons by using their smartphone to send a command to the elevator or staff coffee machine. Conference rooms could be fitted out with voice-activated technologies to control lighting, audio, and visual equipment. 

Passing through doors or flushing the toilet would require a simple wave.

Is it just me or does it sound a bit too much?