The majority of US states, and countries around the world, are beginning to ease restrictions surrounding business closures initially implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For businesses eager to welcome back their workforce and restart economic activities, this is exceptional news, but it comes with challenges.
Many businesses have already adapted their processes to bring employees back to work and prioritize public health and safety. However, promoting efforts such as social distancing can prove difficult in environments that cannot be easily modified with plastic barriers and spread out floor plans. These efforts also don’t solve the need for quick contact tracing in the event of infection which allows the ability to quickly isolate, and send for testing, employees that came into contact with the infected person(s) to help protect them and the rest of your workforce.
With the new normal for businesses on the horizon, Radiant RFID and Samsung SDS have a solution to help all employees return to work with confidence, no matter what their daily routine entails. Early deployments of this smartwatch-based solution at one Fortune 100 manufacturer saw a 50% reduction of proximity violations in the first 36 hours.
Personal privacy is a major concern with any solution that tracks behavior. This has been a key area of focus for this union approved solution and has been implemented extremely effectively. This solution is completely anonymous, with no data being linked to an individual’s identity. The only way the data can be linked to a person is through the use of an offline key that is only accessible to authorized personnel. Dashboards for managers only show aggregate group behavior reports and individuals never see the coded identity of others through the watch interface.
The new normal for businesses
Essential “no-close” businesses such as distribution centers, grocery stores, warehouses, power plants, and food production facilities serve as examples for other industries poised to open in the near future. From placing barriers between customers and employees to taking temperature checks and creating designated work groups to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, organizations have quickly modified not only where they work, but how they work as well.
However, while businesses' focus on reducing customer-employee contact is no doubt important, monitoring employee-to-employee proximity is also crucial for protecting individuals and the economy as a whole. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set strict guidelines for how businesses can safely welcome back their employees and emphasizes the importance of social distancing and promoting proper hygiene at work.
This, of course, is easier said than done. Employees are constantly occupying the same spaces — whether they are changing into their uniform in the locker room or congregating on their breaks. In areas like warehouses or production lines, it can seem impossible to enforce hand-washing rules, let alone try to keep employees spaced apart for a job they need to accomplish in close proximity. It is also difficult to change behaviors such as having a coffee or lunch with colleagues. Humans are social creatures, and our natural behaviors can put us at risk of transmission or infection.
It’s essential for businesses to follow CDC guidelines, but enforcing regulations manually is next to impossible, and traditional contact tracing methods are slow and arduous and can put additional employees at risk of infection while the process is being completed. Rather than use time and precious resources to carry out these tasks, one comprehensive easy-to-use technology solution has the capability to do it all.
Using wearable technology to control a closed environment and keep up with economic demand
The CDC acknowledged that individuals in congregate work, like workers at distribution centers, food processing plants and manufacturing production lines, are at an increased risk for transmission and acquisition of respiratory infections like COVID-19. These closed environments, where there is no contact with customers, are currently working at maximizing capacity to produce the equipment, food, and other necessities that keep supply chains stable, but these environments don’t necessarily make social distancing easy.
Radiant RFID witnessed the need businesses have to enforce CDC rules in a way that is efficient, cost-effective, and safe, and created a social distancing monitoring solution, in conjunction with Samsung SDS, for workers. Radiant’s Panther Social solution uses cloud-based intelligence and dashboards and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, which utilizes Bluetooth technology, to detect proximity and clustering of workers and uses onboard intelligence and alerts to reinforce positive behaviors in the workplace and allows for fast contact tracing in the event of infection, all with the highest level of individual privacy and data security being the priority.
The Samsung smartwatch uses an organization’s own Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth technology to notify employees in real-time when they are within a dangerous proximity to other people with vibration and color-coded alerts to grab their attention. The interface on the watch, and rules set to address the employers’ policies such as allowed work groups/pods, and ad/hoc work teams, all help to allow employees to work safely and effectively while ensuring proximity data is still collected and available in case it is needed.
Customizable dashboards are available to managers and Medical/HR personnel to show trends, and allow detailed reporting where applicable, to help them encourage their teams to maintain social distancing and to track the success of the behavior modification function of the solution. Contact tracing functionality also allows for near-instant reporting on at risk employees in the case of infection. Employees also have access to reports on the watch showing them how well they are doing, and alerts give praise for proper behavior and warn if they are slipping back into old habits.
Radiant RFID’s solution and Samsung’s wearable smart technology has already been deployed in manufacturing and distribution center facilities to enforce social distancing in a positive and efficient manner. With a 12-hour battery life, complete lifecycle management, and accessories such as mass charging cabinets, break-away bands, and UVC disinfection options available, the Radiant RFID and Samsung SDS offer the ideal solution to promote smart behaviors in the workplace to keep employees healthy and economic activities running smoothly.
Supporting contact tracing efforts recommended by the CDC
In the most recent COVID-19 Response, the CDC recommended all businesses — whether they are retailers, child care centers, or restaurants — begin implementing procedures to alert other employees and health officials of possible cases of COVID-19. This confidential communication is paramount if an employee has been in contact with another worker who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
As we have seen with industries such as meat and poultry processing, when one employee contracts COVID-19 and goes to work, it can cause the disease to spread in the closed environment, taking an entire plant offline and disrupting the food supply chain. According to the CDC, being able to intervene with those who could have contacted asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 is essential for continuing to slow the spread, especially among co-workers. To help with this mission, the federal agency is advocating for the adoption and evaluation of digital tools that can effectively identify who COVID-19-positive individuals have come in contact with.
In warehouses and retail locations alike, Samsung smartwatch with Radiant RFID social distancing enforcement also acts as a contract tracer for organizations to streamline isolation and testing efforts. Each employee is assigned a number corresponding with their wearable solution so if they were to become ill, only authorized personnel within HR or Medical divisions have the ability to match names with numbers and alert other employees who they came in contact with. This is a completely anonymous and secure method that can be used to maximize employee safety by quickly identifying employees who need to be isolated or tested for COVID-19, even if they are asymptomatic, while maintaining the privacy of all employees.
There are no doubt gaps between when an employee is at work and what they do in their free time, but being monitored while on the job ensures organizations are complying with CDC guidelines and protecting workers to the best of their ability.
Radiant RFID and Samsung SDS: Strategic partners to protect employees’ well-being
Behavior modification is possible with wearable smart technology that doesn’t punish employees for their actions, but rather makes them aware of their routines to promote positive conduct.
With our solution, you just need to ensure every employee wears a charged Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 and we will do the rest. Radiant RFID and Samsung SDS completely run the solution for our customers. What’s more, our capabilities in Managed Mobility Services make us the one-stop-shop in E2E management of a customers’ mobile suite.
From warehousing and staging/kitting, to software development and replacement and buy-backs, we handle the logistics so you are presented with a solution that can be deployed in days rather than weeks or months. We understand your employees’ safety is paramount.
Now is the time to begin preparing to safely welcome back your workforce and Radiant RFID and Samsung SDS are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about utilizing the Panther Social Solution and the Samsung line of smartwatches in your organization.
David Kinlough is the Director of Mobile B2B Solutions at Samsung SDS America.