2020 was, in many ways, a dreadful year – regrettably, the human toll was enormous, and many families suffered terrible losses. The virus also challenged people to defy their own human nature and isolate themselves; we became hermits in our own homes.
But 2020 also taught us lessons that may serve us well in future battles. COVID-19 was not the first pandemic and it will certainly not be the last. In fact, pandemics have become more and more frequent in the last one hundred years for various (mostly human-related) reasons.
Thankfully, we are now armed with new technologies (like the mRNA platform for vaccine development) and we can have some confidence that the next time around we will be able to rapidly expedite medical treatment, but the average person has also learned more about transmission prevention than ever before. Keep your distance, wash your hands, reduce or eliminate human contact, wear a face covering – these lessons have become woven into the fabric of our lives, and they will remain in some form or other until the virus has been eradicated.
But what lessons have businesses learned in 2020?
Lesson 1 - Essential Work Needs to Continue
One of the first lessons business learned in the pandemic was that essential work had to continue - be it food production industry or the pharmaceutical sector, who make lifesaving and life-changing medications and treatments for patients around the world; Ireland had to maintain operations at these facilities.
The challenge was to ensure the safety of the workers in these sectors and businesses did this in several ways. They identified who was essential to ensure the continued running of their operation, and everyone else (who was able to) worked from home. Limiting numbers on site reduced the opportunity for the virus to propagate. They established occupancy management systems on site.
We introduced TRUCount Occupancy Management Systems across Ireland in the summer of 2020 to support businesses in monitoring and controlling the number of people in communal areas like canteens and changing rooms.
Businesses also need to ensure that their staff maintain social distance where possible and where not possible to log close contact events so that potential outbreaks could be rapidly contained. SureTraceID is the most accurate social distance wearable on the market – it actively notifies users if they are within two meters of a colleague, and it automatically logs close contact events with a high degree of detail without compromising GDPR.
Lesson 2 - What’s on the Surface is Important
The most common virus mitigation measures include intensifying cleaning regimes and installing physical barriers where social distancing is not possible. These measures can become costly and wearisome over time but there are technical innovations that can help in this space.
Our newest product line includes CleanZone - an antimicrobial film that can be applied to almost any surface – with a layer of Silver Ions sandwiched between the polymer sheets, CleanZone actively kills 99.99% of germs (including COVID-19) within 1 hour of contact. This means that businesses and high-priority healthcare settings can confidently reduce cleaning regimes to pre-COVID frequencies in the knowledge that high traffic areas have an extra layer of protection.
Our clients are applying CleanZone to door handles, counter tops, desks, workbenches, push bars, trolleys, phones and shared devices and CleanZone’s Silver Ion layer is active for up to 5 years.
And it’s not just film, CleanZone technology has been applied to mobile or fixed screens in a huge array of sizes from desktop separators to mobile or fixed partitions for all types of settings including offices, canteens, lobbies and clean manufacturing environments.
3. Case Management is Complex
Many businesses lean on MS Excel for everything from financial spreadsheets to project planning and canteen menus and they reached for it again when the pandemic struck for Case Management.
Unfortunately, Excel is simply not capable of managing the level of complexity required for Case Management so we designed, developed and launched CaseManager – a purpose-built platform for handling cases and close contacts in the workforce from start to finish.
4. Working from Home Works
The case for remote working has been well and truly put to bed in 2020. Never before have so many workers been forced to operate from home, and broadly speaking, it has been a successful experiment. Employers have come to realise that many of their workers don’t need to be in the office to be productive and value adding. This has precipitated what will no doubt be a fundamental shift in the way we work in the future.
However, working from home does not suit everyone – a recent study report on RTE news showed that 60% of people working from home are not doing so with suitable equipment including work surfaces, chairs and ergonomically sound desks. This represents a safety risk to the employee and arguably an insurance risk to the employer as legislation is being drafted to ensure that WFH workers are being protected while “at work”.
OfficeBox is a clever innovation that allows home workers to create an ergonomically sound workspace out of the box so to speak. It’s a foldaway solution that can be installed anywhere in the home to capitalise on limited space and disappear into the background outside of work hours. An elegant solution for so many people working on kitchen tables or spare bedrooms. OfficeBox is also being used by our clients to expand working zones and create hot-desks in areas of their facilities that might be underused or unsuitable like meeting rooms and even lobbies.
Society and business have learned a lot in this past year – the world has undergone dramatic change in a very short period and some of those changes are here to stay. Businesses know how to continue operations with these challenging constraints - on site measures ensure social-distancing, occupancy control and surface cleanliness, managing illness in the workforce has become more streamlined and working from home has become part of the norm.
Hopefully, when the next pandemic arrives, we will be armed with new technology and knowledge from this experience that will protect us, lessen the human impact and fortify our essential businesses and services.
PRODIGEO has been at the forefront of bringing COVID-related safety technologies to clients in essential business across Ireland and will continue to provide our valued clients with innovative solutions long into the future.
If your business is interested in learning more about these topics or about the technologies mentioned in this article, please get in touch using the contact details below.
t: +353 21 234 8387
m: +353 85 154 8875