TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL DISTANCING
If someone were to use the term “social distancing” a year ago it may have been met with blank stares and curious looks. In today’s environment it is hard to have a conversation, read an article, or turn on the news without hearing this term. Social distancing is “a public health and safety intervention used to reduce the likelihood of transmitting communicable disease.” The goal is to minimize exposure to infected individuals and ultimately save lives. Social distancing involves avoiding public gatherings and maintaining space requirements.
For the first time in history technology has allowed us to effectively distance ourselves from one another for the greater good. Consider these examples:
During the COVID-19 pandemic many people are learning that the need to interact in a conventional office isn’t always necessary. A significant number of workers have found they can successfully work from home if they are equipped with a personal computer, smart phone and an internet connection. Many are realizing that they can accomplish more without unnecessary interruptions, drop in office visits, and unnecessary meetings.
During COVID-19 many meetings are taking place virtually. Teams are meeting frequently and able to effectively address concerns and make decisions without being in the same room. While gathering people together in one place has many benefits, in this case, it is not worth the health risk.
During COVID-19 many workers are being paid to work from home while others are required to report to work. Many businesses are “essential” due to their role in critical infrastructure and essential supply chains. Many of these companies have suspended classroom training sessions on safety and human resource related topics. Individualized learning has replaced classroom training in these instances. Learning management systems easily allow an administrator to assign employee training to both workers at home and those needed in the work environment. Courses can be completed on any device that has an internet connection (i.e. phone, tablet, personal computer, etc.).
Technology can bring people together or, in today’s climate, keep people apart. COVID-19 will cause many companies to evaluate their work environment. Remote work, web meetings, and online learning will play a critical role in the shift to more flexible solutions. Personal interaction will always provide value, but in certain instances, such as COVID-19, the price is just too high.
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Joe Mlynek is a partner and subject matter expert at Safety Made Simple, Inc. He has over 20 years of experience in safety at the corporate level and as a consultant. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Occupational Safety and Health Technician (OHST). Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org