Businesses all over the world are now grappling with the next COVID-19 challenge: as new cases slowly begin to fall, how do companies restart and rebuild operations? Some firms have continued to operate from their facilities throughout lockdown and others, like Finastra, quickly moved most of their people to home working. Some have had to temporarily cease operations completely.
We all now face a new reality. Whether a business is based in an office or a factory, whether it hosts customers or its people travel to other offices or homes, everything has changed. Serving our customers and protecting the wellbeing of our people has always been a key focus for us. And as we learn to live with COVID-19 and approach the next phase of recovery, we must protect our employees and think about which parts of a ‘normal’ workplace we want to return to – and, importantly, those we don’t.
Employers need new information. How people get to work, where they work or whether they are symptomatic is all important data. Much of this is personal information that employees may never have been asked to share before, so it’s important that when they are asked to, they can trust it will be used properly.
It’s also important that people are not obliged to give too much away: some organizations advocate systems where employees are physically tagged and every step around their workplace is monitored. Even if the technology is out there – for example, smart wristbands or lanyards to track movement and adherence to social distancing – this wouldn’t fit with our open company culture.
Maintaining a degree of physical separation to protect colleagues will be extremely important for the foreseeable future. This is something that must be taken into consideration as workplaces return to some semblance of business as usual.
Much of what is necessary to adjust is about sharing the load across the economy. Millions of people have adapted to working from home and proven that business can keep running in this new environment. Firms should embrace this. Fewer journeys, particularly on public transport, mean less risk for everyone. There are also significant benefits to be derived from increased digital collaboration and virtual events.
Tying all of this together will need coordination and communication, which technology can help with. Businesses can easily send messages to employees and receive useful, relevant information back. Done right, it means every aspect of managing the return to work can be held in a single secure system.
At Finastra, we use Everbridge. Its technology brings together data about the pandemic as it’s made public and gives business leaders the tools to apply it in real time. During the current situation we’ve sent around 20 different messages to our people, mostly informing them about office closures. We’ve used it to manage our business continuity plans – moving over 8,000 staff to home working in just three days. In fact, since adopting Everbridge, we’ve used it a number of times to respond to situations such as hurricane warnings or minor incidents at local facilities.
There’s never been a more important time to harness the power of technology to keep staff safe. We use Everbridge to significantly reduce the time it takes to connect with our people at crucial moments. Workplaces are very different from just a few months ago and will most likely never be the same again. COVID-19 has forced businesses to transform the way they work – virtual events, video conferencing, less travel and a readiness to emerge stronger together.\\