Welcoming people back into your buildings? It’s time to think about your communication protocols

Welcoming people back into your buildings? It’s time to think about your communication protocols

By: Thomas Beare, Head of Fire & Life Safety Portfolio, Siemens Smart Infrastructure USA

Transparency and engagement are critical so you and your employees can come back with confidence

Throughout the pandemic, many, many businesses necessarily kept their doors open—healthcare facilities, grocery stores, labs and research spaces, delivery services, and so on—while many others pivoted to remote work arrangements that left their facilities empty and unoccupied. Regardless, getting back to whatever passes for normal is becoming what one organization called “one of the biggest business challenges of our time.”


Overcoming this challenge will require a broad-reaching and comprehensive strategy that combines new and existing building technologies and operational practices, new partnerships and ways of working, and ongoing communication with your employees. People’s health, safety, and livelihood depend on accurate, up-to-date information in nearly every walk of life. Like many of the solutions available to help us emerge from this pandemic, technologies that deliver messages reliably to the right people at the right time, wherever they are, have been with us for a long time. We’re now applying new use cases in ways that help people feel safe and secure as they begin to come back into buildings.


For example, we at Siemens often help our customers with technologies that support their emergency response plans and solutions that streamline communication platforms into a single pane of glass. These efforts mean organizations can effectively, rapidly respond in case of emergency. But they also mean that people feel safer inside the buildings, knowing that if something goes awry (a weather event or fire, for example), their employer will be able to get the necessary instructions and messages to them.


Today, employers still must prepare for these types of events, and many more new ones too. Let’s say someone was at work on Monday but later became sick; employees who were in the building at the same time as that person deserve that information. Consider stricter limits on building capacity—how do you communicate with people when those limits are within reach? What if there’s a fire and you need to evacuate your facility? It used to be that you would have employees gather at a dedicated spot; but with social distancing requirements, that’s no longer advisable or practical. 


You need an effective means of communicating new protocols to employees; but more than that, you need an effective means of targeting the right messages to different people. A single text message might not be enough. Engaging people in multiple modalities – yes, text, but also phone calls, emails, fire alarm systems, digital signage, campus speaker – will greatly increase the chances that you’ll get people the information they need when they need it. And if you automate this process, you can be confident in your protocols.


As our world continues to adapt, evolve, and overcome, the ways in which we work will do so as well. But the need for communication will never go away. And if you’re ready to welcome people back into your buildings, it’s time to think differently about your communication protocols so you and everyone can come back with confidence.


Published: August 4, 2020