As the coronavirus continues to change the way we work, these innovations are transforming how we work remotely, and shaping the transition back to the office
It is clear that, despite the cautious and gradual re-opening of businesses and offices around the world as lockdowns are lifted, companies and work cultures are facing a future unlike anything experienced before.
Here at Springwise, we aim to quickly spot innovations responding to the pandemic and the new ways of work and life it has influenced. As the lockdowns have proved the viability of remote working, it is likely that it will remain a common practice even after many restrictions are lifted. Likewise, once returned to the office, workers will have to adhere to social distancing measures for the foreseeable future.
With all of this in mind, here are seven innovations that take a collaborative and imaginative approach to the future of the workplace in a post-COVID world.
1. ALL-IN-ONE SERVICE FOR SETTING UP A REMOTE WORKFLOW
Startup Firstbase has created an all-in-one solution to remote working, which lets companies create remote offices at the touch of a button. Firstbase aims to provide remote workers with the tools they need to be safe, comfortable and productive at home. They charge companies a single monthly subscription per employee and handle equipment setup, maintenance, upgrades and repairs, app provisioning and setup, and cross border payments, compliance and security.
The company claims that its service can help companies to save money by spreading the cost of remote setups over a longer period of time. They also handle onboarding for remote operating best practices and help employees claim back tax on energy and internet expenses.
2. VIDEO-FIRST, INTERACTIVE PLATFORM CREATES VIRTUAL OFFICES
The startup Remo is aiming to break the boundaries of online business networking with a new platform dedicated to making remote work as visual and human an experience as possible.
Remo is a visual top-down view, 2-D map, comprised of interactive “conference rooms” where delegates can interact with each other at various virtual tables, network in live video conversations, exchange contact details and even schedule follow-up meetings at a click.
3. STARTUP MAKES ZOOM CUSTOMISABLE AND SHAREABLE
Whenever a new platform becomes successful, companies emerge to build services or products on top of it. Many successful platforms have an entire developer ecosystem riding on their coattails. Companies often encourage this developer community because adds functionality to their platform. As video conferencing company Zoom has soared in popularity during the coronavirus lockdowns, a number of companies have built apps on top of it and one, Grain, has based its entire business around it.
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Grain, founded in 2018, captures content in Zoom calls so that users can save it and share it across other platforms, such as Twitter and Slack. For example, a person in a Zoom meeting can record part of the meeting and then share it with someone else on Twitter using a clip that has its own unique URL.
4. BRACELET HELPS ENFORCE SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR THOSE RETURNING TO THE WORKPLACE
Tech company Rombit has created the Romware Covid Radius, a digital bracelet that ensures social distancing in the workplace, alongside contact tracing. Rombit developed the bracelet by adapting its existing logistics bracelet, the Romware One, used to manage logistics in the workplace.
The company added new functions to the Romware One so that whenever employees come closer to each other than 1.5 metres, they feel a vibration and receive a visual warning signal. Employers can also set an upper limit on the number of employees who may be inside a specific area at the same time, alerting managers in real-time when the limit has been passed.
5. A SOCIAL-DISTANCING SENSOR FOR WORKERS RETURNING FROM LOCKDOWN
The SmartEagle Distance Sensor warns people when they are at the right distance from other people. Developed by SmartEagle, a spin-off of the Internet of Things developer Evalan, the distance sensor uses optical sensors to measure the number of people in a room, and how far apart they are.
The sensor sounds an alarm when people are closer than 1.4 metres, with options including a traffic light that turns orange or red, or a notification that appears on users’ phones, to avoid a room full of ringing alarms.
6. CARPET TILE DESIGNED TO HELP BUSINESSES WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING EFFORTS
As the coronavirus pandemic moves into a new phase as lockdowns ease around the world, safety and well-being are now firmly at the top of the corporate agenda. Commercial carpet manufacturer Milliken has released a new collection of carpets designed to help businesses make this adjustment.
Milliken’s Social Factor collection features informational graphics that can be embedded into any carpet tile layout. The graphics include signs that promote social distancing and attention to hygiene. These can be customised to allow businesses to use their carpeting to direct workers or customers to walk in a one-way system, as a reminder to wash their hands and stay six feet apart and more.
7. HIRE A ROOM AWAY FROM DISTRACTIONS WHILST HELPING THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
As the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdowns emptied cities of tourists, many hotels are facing an uncertain future. One Amsterdam-based hospitality company is adapting to the changes with a rebrand. Zoku specialises in lofts designed as home-office hybrids. The company’s target market is co-workers and people who travel for work. Its rooms are designed for long-term stays and include communal spaces.
With offices closed and some likely to never reopen, Zoku has rebranded its spaces as private work lofts. For a daily fee, guests can get a quiet place to work for the day, away from homeschooled children, noisy roommates and partners on conference calls. A room-service lunch is included and the rooms are equipped with a kitchen, high-speed Wi-Fi and office supplies such as stationary.
Introduction By: Holly Hamilton
2nd July 2020