Editor’s note: Leadership in a COVID-19 world is a key new topic that Siemens USA Stories intends to explore in a series of first-person statements from within Siemens USA, and which started last month with John Karczmarczyk, Vice President, Smart Infrastructure Building Products Business.
For the last several years, organizations across the U.S. have been investing in new, open, flexible workplace concepts as a way to encourage visibility, accessibility, and collaboration. Today, however, nearly everything about working in office environments is disrupted as the pandemic requires new approaches to keep these spaces safe.
From Enlighted’s beginning, we have been working with our customers to help solve their day-to-day workplace challenges—from uncovering new ways to reduce energy costs while improving comfort to enabling real-time location services. Our applications have also helped our customers optimize their space utilization in ways that drive both employee satisfaction and generate cost savings.
But now, business owners are asking new questions, and taking new approaches to the workplace environments: How do we manage the space we have to accommodate social distancing guidelines? What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19? How do we reduce crowding in common areas? How can I create a safe working environment where my employees feel comfortable to come back to their workplace?
And so, over the last three months, we have seen a dramatic shift in development and digitalization. Our long-term customers are reaching out to us, and we are overwhelmed with requests for new use cases for our existing technology. We are seeing new clients who are keenly aware of the importance of preparing today for tomorrow’s unknowns.
For example, touchless entry has become an area of focus for many business owners—getting into your workspace without touching door handles, buttons in elevators, and so on. We know that a combination of existing technologies can make this vision a reality, but it will take partnerships between and among building owners, technology providers, contractors, and manufacturers.
Likewise, enabling contact tracing for people who test positive for COVID-19 (or some other virus in the future) is a hot topic, both in the news and in the office. So much of this work is manual in nature, and depends on people’s memories—which is why total factory shutdowns, as one example, become a necessary precaution to protect other workers’ health and safety. But what if there were a way to automatically enable contact tracing so you could know exactly who came into contact with whom and avoid a complete loss of production?
From Enlighted’s beginning, we have been working with our customers to help solve their day-to-day workplace challenges—from uncovering new ways to reduce energy costs while improving comfort to enabling real-time location services.
All of this – and so much more we do not know yet – will mean establishing partnerships and ecosystems that will further advance and accelerate the development of meaningful, impactful solutions, and do so more cost-effectively than if each provider stayed in their lane and tried to go at it alone. Personally, I look forward to going back into a physical office; it is something I did not appreciate in the past to the extent as I do now. I realize that we can do a lot of good work remotely, but the future depends on innovation, ingenuity and teamwork, things that flourish faster when real, physical connections are possible.
Published: June 24, 2020