This year we’ve seen rapid adoption and evolution of technology to support safe and healthy work environments. A major goal of all this innovation is to create a contact-free experience that allows users to avoid interacting closely with others and touching shared surfaces.
Think about how many contact points employees encounter from car to cubicle — the doors they enter, the elevator trips, and the technology, appliances, and fixtures they use throughout the day. Well, the office of the future aims to make the workday as touchless as possible.
Let’s look at a few common, high-traffic areas of the office that are quickly becoming touch-free with technology.
Doors and security
Entering the office is about to get safer and simpler. Instead of riffling through keys, cards, and fobs, employees can use various contactless technologies to access areas, typically with just a cell phone in hand.
Here’s how the process might look:
- Facial recognition technology identifies the entrant, and credentials stored on that person’s mobile device confirm his clearance level.
- Before entry, he must pass an automated temperature check, which goes on record along with his check-in time.
- If he meets all requirements, the door automatically unlocks and opens.
- He may again need to verify his identity for inner locked doors via a simple scan or cell phone activation.
- Unlocked doors may be motion-activated or foot-operated, so he won’t have to touch door handles.
Since the pandemic began, elevators have become one of the most problematic areas for property managers. And for a while, it seemed like there was no reliable way to prevent the spread of disease in such a small, congested space.
To eliminate the need to touch elevator buttons, many tech innovators have employed gesturing technology. Employees can use motions to control their elevator ride, such as waving to call a car or pointing to floor numbers. Other technologies allow people to use voice commands or a cell phone app to summon elevators and choose floors.
In the near future, employees may not even have to do that much. Elevator systems will read information about where each user works and automatically bring them to the correct floor.
There are certain areas of the office where employees frequently share controls, appliances, and technology. Touchless solutions are a promising alternative to restricting access to these spaces, and they also help reduce the need for cleaning between uses.
In conference rooms, everything from lights and temperature to audiovisual technology can sync with the room’s schedule.
Take a company meeting for example. With technology synced, no one will have to come in early to turn on all the lights, set up equipment, and adjust the temperature — all of this happens automatically, just in time for the meeting to start. Later, as the meeting concludes and the room empties, everything powers down, and occupancy sensors trigger automated cleaning processes to begin. The result is reduced surface contamination, lower power consumption, and minimal maintenance.
Companies can equip their break rooms with touchless technology, too. Manufacturers are making it possible to grab a snack from the vending machine, heat up a meal, or whip up a latte without touching buttons.
The end of each employee’s day might include a trip to the mailroom to pick up packages — but only if those employees are willing to wait in line and abide by social distancing protocols.
- Couriers deposit packages straight into lockers without staff assistance — all they have to do is scan the package to open an empty locker.
- The recipient automatically receives a delivery notification and instructions for picking up the package.
- The pickup process doesn’t require touching a kiosk. Employees only need to scan their QR code or use a cell phone app to unlock their items.
- Closing the locker down is the only point of contact, and lockers are easy to wipe down as needed.
Smart lockers provide a touchless way to exchange other items between building occupants, too, such as company assets, technology, and onboarding materials.
This is a fertile time for innovation, and these technologies are already leading the office into a contactless future. Touchless technologies are not just safer — they’re faster and more efficient. And that’s something forward-thinking business leaders will want on their side.