How can facility managers use sensors to ensure safety in a post COVID workplace?

We know that a combination of physical distancing, shift work, sanitizing stations, and regular health checks are critical for slowing the spread of COVID-19 once employees start transitioning back into the physical workplace. But what else can facility managers (FMs) do? Sensor technology is an innovative way to keep employees safe and healthy while in the office. 

How can sensors help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the office?

  • Enable remote desk booking for employees, which can provide a sense of security
  • Serve as a physical distance monitoring system
  • Collect and analyze occupational data to help the company adhere to health codes
  • Monitor the building’s HVAC and BAS to mitigate the spread of the virus
  • Generate cleaning reports so facility managers can keep track of this essential task
  • Provide no-touch solutions for objects like doors, lights, paper towel dispensers, etc.

Sensors can keep a pulse on what’s happening in the office from various angles to ensure the building is safe for all employees. Having the information sensors provide—like occupational data, building health information, and more—can be helpful when planning the reopening of your office. 

In-office physical distance monitoring

Sensors are an efficient and easy way to confirm that your employees are following safe physical distancing measures. Whether it’s using wearable technology that notifies employees when they have crossed the physical barrier or room sensors that indicate when a room is at capacity (or over capacity), sensors can verify that physical distance measures are being followed.

Occupational data for facility planning

Sensors can help FMs understand the office landscape and who’s present in real time. This helps with many components of facility planning and managing, such as:

  • Making sure the building isn’t over its maximum utilization rate
  • Ensure employees are seated far enough away from each other
  • Understand how many people are in the building at once so they can better plan work shifts

Sensors provide FMs with factual data that can help them plan, reorganize, and make the office as safe as possible. Occupational data can make it easier to spot trends in your company’s space usage so you can revise your COVID-19 safety plan accordingly. For example, if you notice that your rate for potential unsafe interactions is higher than you’d like, you can adjust your office layout to reduce that rate. Or if certain areas of your office see high volumes of traffic, you can relay that information to the cleaning team so they can pay extra attention to those areas.

HVAC and BAS control

Sensors that integrate with your building automation system (BAS) typically detect things like employee occupancy and carbon dioxide levels. This information can be used to optimize your building—like ensure the air filtration system is functioning correctly—and prevent the spread of the virus. Preventative and predictive maintenance by way of your BAS system can ensure there’s never an issue with your system that jeopardizes employees’ health.

The sensors within the BAS enable a facility to adjust in real time based on the current occupancy, air quality, and other variables. For example, if your BAS is synced with your building’s lighting system, sensors can be programmed to turn on lights when employees enter a building, eliminating the need for them to touch light switches. Some systems will even connect with occupants’ mobile devices. This can allow employees to have more control over their lighting or temperature through their own phones, without have to touch anything but their own devices.

Real-time cleaning reports

Understanding the cleanliness of your office is a critical part of slowing the coronavirus spread. Sensors can help generate cleaning reports that show which areas need to be cleaned and which do not. This can help the cleaning staff stay safe and save time. It also verifies that your building is clean at the end of each workday and that no areas were missed.

In addition, cleaning reports can be particularly helpful when implementing shift work. Depending on your company’s set up, some areas might need to be cleaned more than others. Or, if your team is small and only uses a specific area of the office, you can determine which areas don’t need to be cleaned as frequently. Cleaning reports can help FMs relay to the cleaning team which areas need attention based on the company’s unique situation. 

No-touch solutions

Another way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the office is to implement no-touch technology. We know that reducing the need or opportunity to touch surfaces—especially hard surfaces—can be significant when slowing the spread of the virus. 

Sensors are a great solution to this issue. They can be installed to act as motion detectors for things like doors, lights, paper towel dispensers, and other high-touch areas. Motion detectors can help keep surfaces cleaner for longer and also minimize the risk of spreading the virus through touch.

Sensors can optimize your workplace COVID-19 strategy and give you the data and insight you need to keep the virus out of your office.