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Reconfiguring the workplace for a safe return to work: New solutions from HPE

Companies’ workplace strategies are entering a new phase as they continue to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. HPE return-to-work solutions can help by providing strong protection for onsite employees’ health, enabling your company to accelerate its return to growth.

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We still have a long way to go in battling through the pandemic, but companies’ initial responses have been impressive. The focus has been on protecting employees by maximizing the use of remote work capabilities, remote IT management, video conferencing, VDI – in short, any technology that could keep people safe at home while helping them to stay productive and keep the business functional.

As businesses are entering the next phase of their pandemic response, in many countries and localities, shelter in place rules are starting to ease. New questions are emerging: How can I safely bring at least some of my employees back into the physical work environment while adhering to social distancing rules? It’s a given that not everyone will be able to come back just yet – so how can I build an environment that will support both local workers and remote workers? How can I leverage technology so that on-site and off-site / online employees complement each other?

Businesses are addressing these questions with varying levels of urgency. Organizations that have achieved good progress in their digital transformation will likely be able to make their remote-work strategy last a lot longer, perhaps indefinitely. Companies that have made less progress probably won’t have that option. Furthermore , depending on the industry, it may be a matter of economic survival for some businesses. If you’re a manufacturer, you need a reliably safe way to get workers back to the factory floor as soon as possible. Oil and gas producers, food distributors, cruise lines … the list of industries that crucially depend on employees’ on-site presence is long indeed.

In June, HPE announced five new solutions – joint offerings with our ecosystem of partners – to help companies resume operations while providing rigorous protection for employees’ health. I’ll cover a couple of them in this post, and I’ll look at the others in upcoming blogs.

Social distance tracing and tracking. Employees may be well aware of the importance of social distancing guidelines for their safety, but in a busy work environment it’s all too easy to forget. We offer proximity alerting to remind them to keep a safe distance.

Contact tracing is a capability that has demonstrated its value in combatting COVID-19. We offer an enterprise grade version for the enterprise environment, enabling you to determine the contact and proximity history of individual employees..

Touchless entry. The entry points to a facility can easily become congestion points, creating a level of proximity that’s not acceptable in the COVID era. We provide a smooth, hygienic entry system that doesn’t require employees to touch door handles. This is a highly secure solution which can be combined with other solutions such as video analytics to enable multifactor access control as well as identity verification.

Tapping into the power of IoT

As you’ve probably guessed, these solutions rely heavily on Internet of Things technologies. And, after all, this is what the IoT does, and what nothing else can do – it enables us to turn the physical world directly into data that we can be leveraged for an incredible variety of purposes. That said, I’m aware that some companies might be understandably hesitant to apply what may be, for them, a relatively unfamiliar set of technologies – especially for something as sensitive as the personal health and safety of the workforce. If you’re in that category, I’d like to make a few points that should set your mind at ease.

It’s all about your people – first, last, and always. The technology behind the solutions may be sophisticated – secure entry, for example, runs on some heavy-duty analytics – but the basic concepts and goals are straightforward and crystal-clear. The focus, first and always, is on protecting your employees in what is still a difficult health environment, even in those zones of the world that have had the most success in crushing the virus. The Internet of Things isn’t only about “things” – it’s not all robots and assembly lines. It’s a powerful tool for ensuring the safety of humans.

Protecting confidentiality is crucial. And doable. As in any other area of IT, security and data confidentiality are always primary considerations. We understand that HPE’s return-to-work solutions must align with the structures, policies and processes already in place at your organization. We work with your security, legal and compliance people to make sure that happens. For example, when we installed a solution for a food manufacturer that’s highly unionized, we worked with the security and privacy officer of the company to make sure that union rules around workplace technologies were respected.

These are proven technologies. It’s true that these are groundbreaking solutions; they’re almost as new as the novel coronavirus. But the underlying technologies are tried-and-true IoT workhorses that we are repurposing to help companies navigate an unfamiliar environment. HPE has a long track record of successful IoT implementations and a deep pool of expertise in our Networking, Digital Workplace and IoT Services. We can get you to where you want to go.

Partnership is everything. No single company, however experienced and innovative, can cover everything in a field as vast as the Internet of Things. The most effective partner for your company will be the one that’s the most effective partner with other players in the IoT ecosphere. Here again HPE can claim an advantage – building alliances with other innovators has always been part of our DNA.

You can start small. HPE return-to-work solutions directly address your business goals by delivering end-to-end production pilots that are easy to implement. They are predefined, packaged solutions, and once they’re implemented it's extremely easy to scale up or extend the scope. We can often integrate with solutions that customers are already running; it's actually pretty rare that we do a greenfield deployment.

We can help you get started with flexible financing models. We understand that budgets are under a lot of strain right now. HPE Financial Services can help you move forward confidently with a range of offerings that enable you to defer or reduce expenditures, generate cash from existing assets, align payments to your deployment schedule, and more. For a great overview of these options, see Paul Sheeran’s post: Forging the path ahead: Financing and asset lifecycle options you can leverage right now.

The COVID-19 struggle may be far from over for most businesses, but ensuring workplace safety is a crucial step forward in rebuilding financial stability. HPE return-to-work solutions can get you there quickly, safely and effectively.

For a quick overview of all five HPE return-to-work solutions, see this infographic: https://psnow.ext.hpe.com/doc.html/a50001951enw.pdf

Learn more about HPE edge technologies.

To learn more, visit: https://www.hpe.com/us/en/solutions/business-continuity.html

Related blogs posts:

HPE Return-to-Work Solutions: Guarding Workers' Health with the Power of the Intelligent Workplace

Protect Your On-Site Employees' Health with HPE's Workplace Alerts and Information Sharing Solution

Yanick Pouffary
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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About the Author

YanickPouffary

Yanick Pouffary is a HPE Distinguished Technologist and serves as Chief Technologist for IoT and Intelligent Edge Services, focusing on digital transformation, innovation and emerging trends. Yanick helps organizations develop strategic visions and technology services roadmaps for IoT and network. She is a strategic advisor to governments, cities, enterprises, and service providers on digital transformation technologies such as IoT, Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and IPv6. Yanick draws upon three decades of experience in the IT industry and has extensive experience in the development of networking products, services, and technologies.