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How technology can protect businesses as offices reopen

Matt Rushall, Managing Director - Videcon

The latest easing of lockdown regulations by the Prime Minister means that from the beginning of August, businesses across England can prepare their workers to head back to work with the reopening of office buildings to help get their businesses running again and kickstart the economy.

Despite the easing of restrictions, many businesses have been wary to push employees to return to the office, with a recent survey from The Guardian showing that only one out of three workers in England have returned to the office. This is much slower than their counterparts in France, Germany, Italy or Spain.

Though there are many factors that could impact a slow return to the workplace, statistics from finance specialists Canada Life showed only 41 per cent of workers felt positive about returning to the office, which could show a lack of confidence in their employers to keep them safe when they get back to work.

For the offices that have taken the option to reopen their doors, it is the responsibility of the employers to ensure that the correct safety processes are in place. and if it is safe for employees to return.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, it is the duty of all employers to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and others affected by their operations. This means that if measures are not in place to reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19, businesses could be liable for damages if an employee were to catch the virus at work.

The current test and trace system means that anyone who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 days. This means that if an employee catches the virus, either at work, or elsewhere, an entire business could need to close its doors until it is verified to be safe to reopen. If measures aren’t in place to limit the spread of infection, businesses could risk the length of time they are to be closed if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 as more people could be at risk of infection.

As such, many business owners and managers are looking to new technology solutions to help assist with getting employees back to work as safely as possible.

Access control to limit those that could be infected coming into the workplace

There has been an increase in the development of a range of technologies based around access control and thermal reading to ensure minimal contact between staff who may have symptoms.

For example, Videcon have developed a non-contact access control system called Thermi-Scan, which uses a combination of five selectable safety measures including face recognition, body temperature, face mask detection, QR code or card and fob access. Thermi-Scan can deny access to anyone with an abnormal body temperature, those not wearing required personal protective equipment or unidentified people (through facial recognition and QR codes). The system also has customisable features to suit the preferences of the user and has the ability to integrate with existing access systems to allow businesses to easily identity people who may have potential symptoms and allow access to their premises on their own preference.

Mass Thermal Screening to limit the spread of infection in busier places

A heightened temperature has been widely identified as one of the main symptoms of COVID-19, but identifying such an individual, especially in a much larger workspace, and throughout a working day makes it increasingly difficult, like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Videcon have developed a mass thermal imagery tool called Thermi-Screen, which can calculate the core temperature of up to 40 people at once with the accuracy of ±0.3°C. Using Videcon’s advanced facial recognition, the system measures the body temperature from two parts of the face, preventing any false reading. Thermi-Screen then sends out alerts if an abnormal temperature is detected, helping to identify people with potential COVID-19 symptoms.

Thermi-Screen can be implemented in busier entrance foyers, public spaces, or common high-traffic areas (like corridors) and gives managers and employees peace of mind that anyone at risk will be identified.

Face Covering Detection to make sure employees are complying with company and national regulations

The gradual easing of lockdown measures across England has seen face coverings become mandatory in various settings. From supermarkets to weddings, face coverings are quickly becoming the new normal in society.

Despite the ruling and the running risk of being fined for not having a face covering, businesses are struggling with the increasing

Though a mandatory accessory, it is clear that businesses are struggling to shoulder the responsibility of enforcing the ruling to keep other customers and staff safe.

Covered is a new, cost-effective mask detection system that ustilises Videcon’s own deep learning system to identify a person within a set area and check if they are wearing a mask over their mouth and nose. The system comes with a customisable digital display and allows for a range of notification options to suit the user from subtle audio warnings to staff through to controlling access to the premises.

Simple Measures to keep everyone at ease

It’s safe to say that the workplace will never look the same as it did previously. But aside from the implementation of smart technology, it’s important that simple measures are also implemented such as supplying face masks, hand sanitiser, and cleaning products, as well as putting up signs encouraging social distancing can be an easy way for employers and business managers help keep workers safe and at ease.

Whilst these may be optional to use, making such equipment available, and encouraging employees to sanitise their desks regularly means less chance for the virus to spread, especially in common meeting areas.

Better safe than sorry

It is easy to make assumptions that employees are following guidance, and doing what they need to do to limit the spread of infection, but it is still advisable to managers to ensure they have done everything in their power to limit the spread of infection in their workplace. From putting up signs, to investing in smart technology, it is a business manager’s responsibility to ensure all their employees feel safe enough to come into work.

For more information on technology solutions, and to talk to an expert about the safe return to the office, visit

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