I’ll be honest, after 30+ years covering this industry, there isn’t much that wows me anymore. I was there when fax started to take off, I wrote the press release for the first digital copier, I’ve been around for every subsequent MFP release, I was there for “The Year of Color” (all of them), and on and on.
On June 16 I attended Konica Minolta Business Solutions, U.S.A.’s virtual introduction of its Return to Work program, a solution that supports employees’ safe return to offices and provides ongoing security with facial recognition and access control. Without any hyperbole, this introduction blew me away. Part of the wow factor for me was this was developed, tested, and rolled out in a span of four weeks! As 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon would say, “What the What!”
Throughout the webinar, Konica Minolta executives, including Sam Errigo, executive vice president, sales and business development, talked about the company’s ability to pivot as it sees the world of work changing. In this instance, Konica Minolta leveraged its technology, products, and workflow services to create a much-needed solution.
The Return to Work solution will be sold primarily through Konica Minolta’s direct operations as well as a select group of dealers with a background in physical security solutions.
With businesses either bringing employees back to work or preparing to do so, this is a timely introduction and one that should generate a lot of interest even after a vaccine for COVID-19 is introduced.
What organization hasn’t thought about creating a safer work environment for their employees not just now but even after the pandemic subsides? Health checks will likely become routine in many organizations and this Return to Work solution, if it works as well as described during the webinar, has the potential to be a game changer.
Return to Work streamlines the process of assessing and monitoring employees as they enter the workplace. Through an integrated cloud-based application for data collection, the solution ensures businesses can track, manage, and report on each individual’s entry in compliance with company and state requirements.
The solution combines Konica Minolta’s proprietary software and workflow solutions through its Enterprise Content Management (ECM) business with its MOBOTIX Thermal TR cameras. According to a Konica Minolta press release, those cameras have recently been deployed at hospitals to help frontline healthcare workers assess patient symptoms faster. From installation to support to service, the products, software, and technology are developed, owned, and implemented by Konica Minolta. Service calls are handled by Konica Minolta service technicians and its software development team is responsible for software integration.
Designed to bridge the gap between physical and IT security practices, MOBOTIX has features that provide businesses with actionable information well beyond CCTV (closed-circuit television) systems. MOBOTIX camera systems have multiple on-board sensors, programmable microprocessors, decentralized architecture, and IoT technology. This can be customized to meet the specific needs of any business or public facility.
How It Works
- Daily employee self reporting – The employee does this before arriving at the office by completing and submitting an eform via email or text. Based on the response, the employee is either advised to stay home or report to work.
- Second-level screening – Once the employee arrives at the office, he or she proceeds to a second level of screening with a MOBOTIX Thermal Camera. If results comply with company guidelines, the employee goes to Corporate Access Control and enters the office through normal authentication protocols. If results are out of compliance with company guidelines, HR advises the employee per company policy, (e.g., go home).
- Contact tracing and incident management – Incident management is initiated by opening a case with the COVID Employee Disease Control Management System to track employees until they return to work. Throughout the entire process, data from eforms, thermal screenings, and HR records are securely stored in a centralized, cloud-based digital repository for retrieval, review, and COVID-19 reporting.
Return to Work can also be integrated with Konica Minolta’s virtual visitor management system, ALICE, that interacts with visitors entering a lobby. ALICE uses a touch screen and live video technology to directly connect visitors with employees, greeting them and notifying staff when a visitor enters an office space.
Three iterations of the solution are available, including a Getting Started version, Accelerated Plus, and Extended Pro version. Click here to visit the Return to Work website to learn more.
If Konica Minolta is successful with this solution, I wouldn’t be surprised if the company opens distribution beyond direct and the initial group of select dealers. As challenging and disheartening as the past three and a half months have been, seeing this kind of innovation makes me optimistic. I expect to see even more innovation from other manufacturers in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing nature of work. Hopefully, I’ll continue to be wowed, inspired, and overcome with even greater optimism.
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