The Covid pandemic drove home the risks of disease transmission in the workplace in a way that the annual flu or cold season never quite achieved. After all, it’s nearly impossible for coworkers to avoid proximity with each other, a key factor in Covid transmission. Those risks prove even more pronounced in industries where customers and staff share enclosed spaces, such as air travel and hotels.
The good news is that the tech sector upped its game in terms of contactless technology. Wondering how contactless technology affects the workplace? Keep reading for five key ways touchless technology redefines workplace operations.
- Customer Experience
While Covid shows unusually low levels of surface transmission, other illnesses do not. That poses a serious problem for anyone who must travel regularly for work or wants to go grocery shopping. Good luck avoiding shared surfaces in a hotel, where dozens or hundreds of people routinely touch door handles, counters, and elevator buttons.
Fortunately, contactless technology in hospitality settings can help guests check-in without coming into contact with counters or even screens. You see similar technology in airports.
These technologies also help protect employees, who cannot avoid at least some contact with customers and their belongings. The less direct and indirect contact between customers and employees, the better off everyone is in the long run.
Touchless tech also enables customers to perform basic activities like providing feedback. Instead of filling out a paper card with a pen or pencil handled by dozens of other people, people can do touchless customer feedback by scanning a QR code with their phone.
- Voice Activation
Contactless technology companies don’t just mess around with QR codes. These days, you can pack a fairly high-quality microphone into a pretty small package. That means computers can “listen” to employees or customers with relative ease.
You can see advances in that area with home consumer tech like Alexa or Google Assistant. The biggest holdup with voice tech wasn’t the microphone hardware. It was the computer hardware and software.
The dramatic improvements in computer processing and artificial intelligence over the last decade or two have made voice technology a working reality, even for businesses.
For example, you can see voice-activated tech in train travel and even banking. Voice recognition software for computers also reduces the need for employees to share keyboards and risk picking up illnesses from one another.
You can simply dictate a letter directly onto your computer rather than recording it or bringing in an assistant to type it. Then, you can share the file for cleanup while limiting direct contact.
- Automated Bathroom Fixtures/Doors
Historically, bathrooms serve as a hotbed of potential disease transmission. The root of the problem is manual fixtures, such as faucets, soap dispensers, and hand dryers. In all three cases, a person must touch the fixture.
In the case of the soap dispenser and faucet, people had to touch them before their hands were clean. The faucet proves especially problematic because you must touch it again after you clean your hands, then touch the hand dryer. All of these required touches made it very easy for someone to pass something on even when trying to maintain good hygiene.
Automated soap dispensers, faucets, and dryers generally use motion sensor or proximity sensor technology that triggers them to work. For example, moving your hands beneath an automatic faucet makes the water run.
These automation features all but eliminate the need for touching most surfaces in a work restroom. They also prevent waste from accidentally leaving faucets dripping, so it’s a health and efficiency two-for-one.
- Biometric Access
In terms of contactless technology innovation, biometric access is probably the most cutting-edge option. Biometrics themselves are not new. Smartphone and laptop companies started integrating fingerprint reading tech into consumer products several years ago.
With the heightened need for touchless options, other biometric options started cropping up on the market as access devices. Facial recognition technology, for example, can let you do away with things like keypads or magnetic strip cards for entry. The employee walks up, looks at a camera, and the door opens.
You can use it as a trigger for an automated door, providing another layer of touchless tech. Iris or retinal scans and even voice recognition can provide much the same service. While research continues for behavioral biometric tech, such as gait analysis, it isn’t ready for the open market just yet.
The pitfall with biometric access tech is that it raises privacy concerns. Not every employee wants their employer keeping a permanent digital record of their physical traits.
There are also concerns about the information falling into the hands of state governments or the federal government. The worry is that law enforcement will use the data for surveillance against citizens not under active investigation.
Many people don’t think of it this way, but software can serve as a foundational touchless technology for almost any business. Any software that automates a process that used to require human input is, by definition, touchless technology.
For example, integrated payment systems automatically complete many credit card transactions. The software then passes along those transactions to your accounting software. This radically reduces the manual reconciliation between receipts and your transaction logs.
That means your employees spend less time working on a computer that another employee may have spent the whole day touching. In theory, software that enables remote work is the pinnacle of touchless tech, since it lets employees avoid the physical workplace entirely.
Contactless Technology and Your Business
Every business and industry brings its owns needs and wants to the question of contactless technology. That means that some of the options will prove more or less beneficial for you.
For a business that lives or dies on foot traffic, biometric door access won’t do you much good. Automated bathroom fixtures, on the other hand, will prove a boon. For businesses with security concerns, biometrics may prove the right choice for both security reasons and health reasons.
Looking for more tips about workplace tech? Check out the posts in our Business section.