7 Minute Read | By: Mappedin
Indoor mapping solutions can help you strategize shifting floor plans, employee routes, cleaning schedules, and more to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused severe setbacks and damages across the world. With more cases sprouting up every day, we’ve all had to adapt to this “new normal” in ways we could have never anticipated.
To prevent the spread of the virus, most countries have implemented some form of lockdown since March. As we come out of months of self-isolation, we have to acknowledge the fact that the way we used to interact and move around the workplace isn’t safe in the era of COVID-19.
Facilities managers need to adhere to the federal guidelines for return-to-work protocols, and that includes implementing social distancing measures. Studies have shown that close proximity significantly increases the risk of spreading and contracting coronavirus. If you want to create a safe work environment, you have to rethink how your office space is being used.
Indoor mapping solutions like Mappedin's can help you strategize shifting floor plans, employee routes, cleaning schedules, and more for the safest reopening possible. We use innovative mapping solutions to create accurate maps for your workspace, whether it’s an office, building, retail store, restaurant, or commercial space.
Here are nine ways that indoor mapping can help you create and enforce social distancing practices to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Before you can ask your employees to return to work, you have to be able to visualize how all of the elements – workspaces, desks, and people included – can come together to maximize productivity without compromising the safety and well-being of the occupants.
With indoor mapping, you can easily plot out the office layout and move around the elements as needed. Seeing the entire floor plan at a glance can help you identify key changes that need to be implemented to ensure successful social distancing. This could mean shifting from an open floor plan to a more traditional office layout or simply spacing desks farther apart.
Visualization also allows you to analyze how employees and visitors move throughout the space. Knowing where people often congregate or which routes are the most crowded can help you configure your workplace properly and come up with relevant guidelines.
Pre-COVID-19, most facilities managers tried to maximize their occupancy to reduce costs and make work more efficient. But with new cases reported every day, managing your floor occupancy rates is absolutely critical.
Occupancy here refers to how much of the office space is being used, and is generally measured in three ways:
Government guidelines dictate that employees should not be within six feet of one another for prolonged periods of time. For most offices, especially those with an open floor plan, this means that your occupancy rate will have to lower to accommodate your workers safely.
Indoor mapping will allow you to plot workspaces and track how they are being used in real-time. This allows you to make more informed decisions about how many employees can work during a shift. It can also help you understand which desks are most used by employees, especially if you have rotating shifts, and therefore need to be sanitized more often.
Although occupancy and density are related, there’s one key difference. While occupancy mainly deals with the employee-to-space ratio, density refers to how crowded a specific area is. You can have low occupancy and high density if a majority of your workforce is concentrated in one area of your space.
Before the pandemic, offices were designed with the idea that people will be flowing from one area to the next, especially in workplaces that don’t have assigned seating, like hotdesks or mobile desks. Not to mention group spaces like conference rooms, benches, and other communal zones that used to host collaborative activity.
Through indoor mapping solutions, you can figure out which spaces used to be the most densely packed and plan accordingly. Enforcing social distancing is a lot easier when you can map out where everyone can work safely. Plus, you can modify the layout digitally at any time, saving time, and money while you figure out the optimal employee distribution.
Restricting how many people can enter a specific space – whether a conference room, breakroom, or another work area – is essential for proper social distancing. A room that is used to host 10 people may now have a maximum occupancy of 5, while a smaller conference room could be completely restricted for group use.
Indoor mapping that is incorporated with wayfinding can be used to guide employees to workspaces they can use. Mappedin allows you to update occupancy guidelines instantly, ensuring that your office is always adhering to the latest social distancing protocols.
As more and more people are allowed to return to work, you should also expect guidelines to change. Doing this manually takes time and effort. You will have to remap the entire office to accommodate the increased workforce, shuffle around desks, reorganize schedules, and institute new occupancy rates in shared spaces.
Mappedin’s digital mapping software makes this entire process seamless and painless. You can easily move around elements and update the map in just a few clicks. This is useful when testing out different layouts, but it’s especially handy considering that COVID-19 guidelines may change at any moment as we learn more about the virus and how it spreads. Any changes that you make can be rolled out in real-time, so you don’t have to worry about delays in disseminating important, life-saving information.
Even as we ease into the “new normal,” some spaces in your workplace may remain off-limits to certain employees. In fact, there are many different use cases for restricting access through mapping.
Maybe you want to tag certain desks as restricted to avoid employees breaking social distancing protocols. Or perhaps, it’s only temporarily unavailable for a specific time to allow cleaning staff to sanitize the area before the next set of employees can use them. Or maybe some rooms have already reached their occupancy limit and cannot accommodate any more people.
Indoor mapping software allows you to restrict access on an individual level too. For example, workers in the morning shift may be allowed to use only a specific set of desks or rooms.
And with Mappedin's SDKs for mobile devices, you can understand where employees are and limit occupancy accordingly. If a break room has reached its limit, the space can be marked as “temporarily unavailable” for other users looking to go to the breakroom. They can then use an employee app to find another space that can still accommodate them.
There’s a lot we don’t know about COVID-19. Earlier research said that the coronavirus was mainly transmitted through droplets, which is why social distancing measures dictated that people should stay six feet apart, especially if there’s prolonged contact. But new evidence suggests that coronavirus might be airborne, which means that even short exposure periods, such as passing someone in the hallway, still puts you at risk of infection.
With indoor mapping, you can find out which routes are the busiest, and even find out which times attract the most traffic. From there, you’ll be able to plan optimal routes to prevent crowded hallways. Taking it even further, indoor wayfinding can direct users to less populated routes, in the same way that GPS systems help cars navigate around high traffic roads.
Social distancing isn’t the only public health measure you need to adopt to ensure the safety of your employees. There are also mandatory masks, regular testing, and of course, contact tracing.
Contact tracing allows you to identify other potential at-risk persons in case there’s a positive COVID-19 case in your workplace. Anyone that person came into contact with – whether they be nearby deskmates or even people they passed in corridors – could have been exposed to the virus as well.
You can use indoor mapping software integrated with tracking systems to find out who was working near the positive case while they were contagious. With an advanced enough system, like Mappedin’s, you can even trace that individual’s movement to identify which spots need to be decontaminated and sterilized. “Contact events,” or when two devices come within 5 meters of each other, can be easily identified with our spatial and temporal analysis capabilities.
You can then notify other employees who may be at risk because of contact with those hotspots or the positive case themselves, helping you prevent an outbreak at work.
When it comes to COVID-19, timeliness is everything. The faster you get out information, and the sooner you come up with social distancing protocols, the more lives you can potentially save.
That’s why digital mapping is such a useful tool for planning your office’s pandemic response. You don’t have to wait days for an update rollout. In fact, any map changes you make are deployed in real-time, giving management and employees the information they need to keep themselves and their colleagues safe.
You can even integrate real-time notifications into the app. Remind workers to wash their hands or keep their mask on at regular intervals. Hotspots can also trigger a notification on the user’s app, say in the case of an employee going near a workspace that’s off-limits or has yet to be sanitized.
Amidst this global pandemic, keeping your employees and office visitors safe as they return to work should be your top priority. Whether you’re implementing new protocols or safety measures, one of the best things that you can do is to implement social distancing guidelines through indoor mapping.
Mapping software like Mappedin can be used to streamline data dissemination, plan safe workspaces, and trace any potential points of contact with COVID-positive cases. Contact us today to learn how we can help you ensure the well-being of your workers!