COVID-19 and the resulting orders for stay/work at home for many occupations has led to a reassessment of how business can operate. Jobs that were office-restricted are being seen as office-optional and workers who can function productively at home are being allowed to do so, even as restrictions are being lifted in many states.

What does this reevaluation of work suggest for the near future?  IDC (Intl. Data Corp.) forecasts that, by 2021, the contribution of “digital coworkers” will increase by 35% as more tasks are automated and augmented by technology. IDC also predicts that, by 2024, enterprises with intelligent and collaborative work environments will see 30% lower staff turnover, 30% higher productivity, and 30% higher revenue per employee than their peers.

IDC’s research shows that during the current uncertainty brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic, proactive “digitally determined” organizations are experiencing minimal interruption to their day-to-day operations. Integrating emerging technologies, adapting to the shifting work ethic, heightening digital trust, and harnessing the power of hybrid cloud platforms are just some of the strategies being utilized to increase collaboration.

Connectivity is the common denominator in how people, things, and processes interact today. As digital interactions increase, it becomes clear that connectivity today is not seamless nor pervasive. For consumers and organizations alike, the increased reliance on being digitally engaged requires ubiquitous, reliable, and robust connectivity.

The importance of preparing the workforce for a new approach to collaboration and working away from the office will require training in remote operations and ways to maintain productivity when isolated from colleagues. But not every office can be run remotely, and stay-at-home orders are not permanent so there initially needs to be a way to safely bring people back to work, then decide on who can work remotely. This is as important for construction workers on the jobsite as those in the office.

As states slowly lessen their restrictions on doing business, companies are seeking ways to prevent COVID-19 from being introduced into the work environment. One approach is to track employee contacts. OEM Data Delivery and Foresight Intelligence developed a telematics-based pandemic management tool against COVID-19 that might help.

The tool, named CrewStrong, offers advanced tracking capabilities pairing small BT5v Bluetooth tags and geofence technology to track crew members while they are on site. If a member of a team tests positive for COVID-19, managers can access a report that lists that individual’s every interaction within a given radius for any time period.

The Bluetooth tag can be attached to any worn item such as a hard hat, badge ID, or key ring. Broadcast Bluetooth technology works differently than the pairing technology most often seen with Bluetooth devices. Broadcast will only be received on jobsites or selected work zones. Once an employee leaves the designated sites, the device is no longer being tracked. This alleviates compliance and tracking privacy concerns that can come into play with other application-based systems. The solution offers detailed reports as well as “congregating warnings” that ping certain selected team members when there are more than the allotted number of team members gathering in a location for more than a chosen time limit.

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