Re-entry to the workplace, whether it happens this year or further on down the road, is going to come with a lot of questions from employees on how the working conditions have changed. They need to have a good understanding of what's going to be expected of them as they return, and how their safety is going to be assured.
As facilities, operations, and HR managers, we need to be asking ourselves some questions as well: How do we set our facilities up to make the transition for employees as smooth and stress-free as possible? How do we communicate policy updates and new rules, so that workers clearly understand what the new process is, how it's going to affect them, and how they'll need to adjust their routines to accommodate? What measures do we need to establish in regards to cleaning and sanitizing the space so it remains safe and accessible for everyone to use with minimal service disruption?
An underlying theme we want to continue focusing on when talking about using Watson Works and TRIRIGA to build a back-to-work plan is changing the way we're thinking about facility management, and aiming to provide facilities that contribute towards creating a better overall experience for people in the workplace. We need to re-imagine what our buildings, offices, and properties can offer as important assets that can help nurture and improve the quality of human capital in our organizations. Using the right tools to manage our entire workplace portfolio will allow us to achieve this goal sooner. As this strategy really pays its dividends in the long-run, it will improve our ability to attract and retain talent, reduce churn rate, and boost productivity.
In addition to the Return-to-Workplace Advisor that IBM has created as part of the Watson Works initiative, the TRIRIGA Workplace Services app is a convenient tool which is available today. As an organizational communication hub, it can help notify employees regarding when they can return to the workplace and show them which spaces are available for use, as well as provide updates to policies and procedures concerning COVID-19 risk reduction. We're going to go through a few simple examples of how the Workplace Services app can be configured to quarterback a return-to-work plan from a workplace re-entry point of view.
Right off the bat, we can see how the home page of the Workplace Services app can be our one-stop-shop for all news related to office status and our reservations. The entire application can be tailored based on a person's selected location; if your organization has facilities across multiple regions or countries, the app fully supports a phased return-to-work approach driven by local public health guidelines. News, updates, and important announcements on the landing portal are customizable based on where the user is located, ensuring they're getting the right information for their area. We've also added an example of how the status of multiple locations can be shown, so people can quickly see if the building they want to visit is currently open.
One of the best ways the Workplace Services app can be used as a safety measure to protect employees is through the reservation management system, which ties directly into the TRIRIGA space module. To illustrate how this can be achieved, we're going to walk through a simple example of the process which has been modified to include some COVID-19 return-to-work features.
As a worker using the app, after I’ve confirmed the building I want to go to is open and booked my reservation (which can be done for both individual workstations/cubicles or meeting rooms/collaboration space), the next step is to confirm that I'm okay to enter the building and obtain approval to come in on the day of my reservation. To manage this process, we've added a simple screening questionnaire asking users to confirm if they have any symptoms that might put themselves or their co-workers at risk if they come into the office. If they respond "Yes" to any of the questions they will be asked to continue working remotely, and advised on any other recommended next steps (such as getting tested). If the user responds "No" to all three of the questions, we can assume they don't have any symptoms that would put others at risk and have the system generate a QR code that allows them to get into the building for the day. This is a simple example of how the reservation management engine within TRIRIGA, powered by the workplace services app, allows for complete visibility and control of the workspace and which areas can be used at a given time. When this information is paired with TRIRIGA Building Insights, we can track actual occupancy rates on the floors of our buildings against the reservations that are made each week to make sure everybody is following the guidelines.
As we've mentioned in the Facilities Management section, TRIRIGA has all of the necessary capabilities to set up automated post-reservation room cleaning and ensure workstations have enough space between them to keep workers at an appropriate physical distance. Implementing automatic cleaning tasks after a room has been used really ties TRIRIGA’s maintenance and space modules together and puts a nice bow on the entire reservation process end-to-end. In addition to the Workplace Services app (which is one of many perceptive applications available today), there are other features of the system that can be leveraged to manage a process of continuous improvement on the overall workplace experience. This includes meeting room check-in and check-out surveys to assess cleanliness and the overall capability of the space, and the ability to quickly and easily submit ad-hoc service requests as an everyday user. Maintaining a constant source of feedback from employees in regards to how the workspace allows them to perform their jobs, and continuing to eliminate the pain points based on this information will be critical to making sure that your organizational vision is aligned with their values.
Taking this idea one step further, another useful tool that is built-in to the Workplace Services app and available to users today is the Watson Assistant. This AI-powered chatbot can serve as a way to quickly answer commonly asked questions for workers, including any subject matter relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and returning to work; such as "Do I need to wear a mask?" or "Is my building open this week?". Natural language processing allows the assistant to communicate with users via voice or text. It can also be integrated with other communication applications like Slack and Microsoft Teams to ensure the resource is available wherever users need it most, and provide a seamless experience.
Finally, we can't wrap up a discussion on the TRIRIGA Workplace Services app without talking about the locate tool. This is another convenient feature that is available in the app today, and can be used quickly and easily to see where a specific room or person is located within a building. Users can view floors of any building, easily identify key rooms on a floor, and also access the directory of the floor to see who works there.
This service can be further enhanced by the addition of blue dot wayfinding technology through the use of Apple Indoor Maps. This technology gives users the "GPS" experience as they're navigating through a building they may be unfamiliar with and can help eliminate lost time searching for a particular area.