The 42nd Floor: A view into the space and technology of the workplace we will return to
May 27, 2020
May 27, 2020
From an employee’s first touchpoint of the day to their last, their presence in the building is monitored to provide the safest experience for all
In the first part of this blog series, we examined what the initial post-pandemic return to the office might look like. It will be a staggered reentry, with many still working from home, and for those that do find themselves back in the office, things will look a different, with corridors rerouted to one-way traffic and social distancing still very much the norm. But these are just the most noticeable changes, with many more taking place behind the scenes to keep employees safe.
Much of the smart building technology that has coincidentally been aligned with developing new work spaces is now being translated into existing facilities and used in ways that we may have never thought of before. Let’s walk through what this all might look like with the deployment of an Indoor Positioning System (IPS). Think of it as a GPS but for use inside a building.
Mary is an accountant at a multinational firm, and she is part of the first wave of people in her company to go back to working in her office, which is located on the 42nd floor of a high rise in Chicago.
On Mary’s first day back at work, she uses her smartphone to gain access to her building’s lobby; proximity access has been enabled to allow only this first group of employees to enter the building. As Mary passes through security, her biometric data is collected, ensuring not only that she really is Mary, but that she doesn’t have a fever today. All clear.
Ultraviolet disinfecting robots can supplement the work existing cleaning crews are doing.
She then approaches the elevator bank where she uses her smartphone to call an elevator, which automatically takes her to the 42nd floor without the need for Mary to press any buttons. Once Mary arrives on her floor, her phone shows her the safest route to her office on the northeast quadrant of the building, considering how congested hallways and common areas are in that moment.
Now in her office, Mary faces a situation all too familiar for the world traveler. She needs to indicate she’s truly there to “activate” the space. Mary taps a button on her phone marking that she’s in her office for the day. The lights switch on and cool, clean air fills the room.
Around mid-afternoon, Mary walks down the hall to the mother’s room. When she leaves, an alert is sent to the operations team to have the room disinfected before the next person uses it. At the same time, Todd, one of Mary’s coworkers has wrapped up for the day, and a similar alert is sent to the operations team to have his reserved hot-desking space cleaned.
When it’s time for Mary to head out for the day, her office is flagged for a deep cleaning for the overnight crew. And it all begins again the next day.
The example above highlights some of the more noticeable technology to workers returning to the office. But there are plenty of things happening that Mary and Todd might never notice.
This pandemic has caused us all to stop, reflect, and plan for a new world. One that we did not anticipate and for which few had a game plan. But at the end of the day, it’s important to recognize that this specific experience we’re going through will end. In time, this will be in our rearview mirror, but we will now have an arrow in the quiver that wasn’t there before.
This is the second in a multipart blog series on how workplaces can respond and adapt to the new normal following COVID-19.