Staying covid safe has been one of the biggest priorities of 2020, and it will be good practise to continue this through into 2021. However, although many organisations have done their best to ensure the safety of their employees, can they confidently say their employees have been following guidelines as they should?
As an employer, it is good practice to ensure your company and staff are following strict guidelines that have been set out by the government to help contain and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
The graph below provided by NCBI indicates the effectiveness of social distancing on the number of Covid-19 cases in the UK.
The graph shows a clear sign of covid cases dropping after the social distancing measures were put in place along with an effective lockdown which included schools and universities. Another contributing factor could also be the change in weather.
The typical nature of the virus and how closely it reflects that of the common cold and flu means that during the winter months, many more people may have caught it leading to a second lockdown compared to statistics shown above which seem to show a reflection of the summer months.
With all this in mind, going forward, organisations may need to implement some regulations to get some normality back to keep their employees safe until everyone is vaccinated and well after.
The AWS Panorama
Although not only being used to monitor staff, Amazon plans to sell organisations a system that can track if employees are wearing face masks and social distancing according to guidelines.
The system can also be used beyond the pandemic to monitor the compliance of other workplace rules and regulations which is great for organisations where heavy and large equipment is being used.
Although some do have concerns regarding privacy, the implementation of the systems would provide a safer working environment leading to fewer casualties involving heavy equipment.
The system rather than checking employees can also be used to track products in the warehouses and shops as well as ques, offering real-time data of the number of customers waiting to enter. It works by retrofitting a box they call Panorama to existing security cameras in the building that can then draw on off-the-shelf AI apps.
The AWS Panorama system is able to plug into internet protocol cameras which is a standard digital camera used by many. By connecting to the cameras, it can automate inspection tasks with the ability to detect manufacturing defects whilst tracking movement, including barcodes on labels.
The system can also be applied to people and count the amount of footfall into the shop and track their movement, which can help retailers better merchandise their stores.
Monitoring and privacy concerns
Although this type of tech and system is great for the workplace and monitoring analytics which can help push any business forward. There are some concerns surrounding the privacy of employees.
Some surveys have suggested that even with the implementation of CCTV cameras, they feel they are being monitored for their performance. This can have a negative effect on employees who feel watched and so, are unable to effectively carry out their job roles.
A survey conducted by Trades Union Congress (TUC) has found that many employees believe that employee surveillance will grow as the years go on with 70%of them believing surveillance will become more widespread in the future. The graph below also shows what types of surveillance employees find acceptable and what they feel is overstepping the line.
It is clear from the graph that most believe facial recognition is overstepping the line but the fact that today we can find this type of technology on our smartphones means understanding what is acceptable surveillance in the workplace and outside is a rather grey area. For example, with the introduction of blockchain within our smartphones, surveillance is likely to become more difficult. Already, some of Samsung’s newest smartphones, which, according to Smartphone Checker, run on high-performance Snapdragon chipset have blockchain integrated, potentially making it more secure and safe for users.
The abundant amount of technology that is now at our disposal means that sometimes the rule between what is acceptable and what is not so clear. And so, as an organisation, it is best to seek legal advice that can help point you in the right direction.
This also goes for employees who in some cases do not think about how their activities outside of work and how it can affect their work and the organisation’s reputation even, even if the incident may not have been carried out in the workplace.