3 ways to create a psychologically safe workplace

Companies benefit when employees feel psychologically safe to come to work. Studies show productivity increases, morale is boosted, and turnover is reduced.

The differences between psychologically safe and unsafe workplaces are stark, and much of it hinges on the type and quality of managers, based on research conducted by the Predictive Index.

  • A good manager makes their direct reports feel 96% more confident approaching them with challenging issues or problems, while a bad manager only inspires such forthrightness from their direct reports 43% of the time
  • Good managers frustrate their direct reports only 10% of the time, compared to 80% for managers who don’t inspire psychological safety.

Such subtle sabotage from the top can lead to disaffected, unproductive, and marginalized team members — many of whom will actively plan to leave for greener pastures. 

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic aggravated these challenges. The rise of remote working, employment uncertainty, unclear promotion paths, tumbling revenue, and social justice movements around race and gender have all made it harder for employees to feel safe at work, learn new skills, and be maximally productive.

There has never been a greater need to restore balance to the workplace. Below are three ways to make your workplace feel psychologically safe for your employees.

Democratize

In an environment where many of the usual rules around office visibility and ‘presence’ no longer apply, leading by example is crucial to fostering an environment where employees feel safe to do their best work from wherever they choose.

Easier said than done, we realize. But tech can help (if your budget allows). High-fidelity webcams, HD monitors, mechanical keyboards, and ergonomic office chairs can demonstrate how your company believes that the home is an extension of the office.

“Our homes are now part of our workplaces.” — Devorah Rosner, Senior Manager of Global Workforce Operations at Twilio.

One company that does this well is PostHog, which has published a detailed company spending policy with equipment recommendations for all its employees.

Paying for coworking spaces can also help. Home isn’t the ideal setting for many people. They come to the office to focus.

But what about those who can’t come to the office or those who want an alternative option? A $200 monthly allowance for coworking space can go a long way toward helping people get their best work done away from noisy settings and persistent Wi-Fi issues.

You can improve FOMO (fear of missing out) with regular team check-ins. Ensure everyone joins (whether they’re working from home, a coworking space, or the office).

These sessions can (and at times should) be non-work-related, giving employees a chance to catch up with each other and share their current life events. Thirty-minute coffee chats every Friday evening can go a long way toward building camaraderie and reducing stress levels after grueling workweeks. Paying for meals through services like UberEats helps democratize the experience for your office and remote employees.

Language

No matter how well-intentioned you are, it’s highly likely you still use gendered language, like when referring to how much manpower a project will need, how many man-hours it’ll take, and who will man the company booth at the upcoming trade show.

These words may seem innocuous. But they can impact how women and non-binary individuals feel in the workplace.

Consider the following:

  • 20% of non-binary employees believe they’ve lost a job because of their identity
  • There tend to be fewer women in the workforce in geographical regions where people speak gendered languages

But how can you create more inclusive spaces through language?

One way is by revamping job descriptions across the board. The use of words like ‘ambitious,’ ‘leader,’ ‘challenging,’ and ‘aggressive’ could put off some highly qualified candidates.

Instead, use neutral words such as ‘understanding,’ ‘co-operative,’ ‘honest,’ and ‘dependable’ to improve the diversity of your talent pool.

Be consistent with proper pronouns. Female-identifying individuals might go by ‘she/her,’ for example. In contrast, male-identifying individuals might go by ‘he/him’ and non-binary individuals by ‘they/them.’

Your HR team can play a significant role by adding pronoun fields to internal forms and online job applications.

Lastly, be mindful of the language used in internal comms channels like email and Slack. Change greetings from ‘Hey guys’ to ‘Hello everyone’ to make space for people who identify differently. Announcements can also eschew ‘Ladies and gentlemen’ in favor of ‘Good evening, folks.’

As with most initiatives, these changes must start from the top, with C-suite leaders modeling the kind of inclusive behavior they’d like to see.

Physical space

Better structural planning can lead to more inclusive spaces. One example is renting out office space as an intermittent meeting place for employees.

These workspaces can have a mix of open spaces and closed rooms to enable both collaboration and deep work, including meeting rooms, work nooks, and individual offices.

Build gender-neutral bathrooms as well. Beyond just accommodating (and thereby reducing discrimination against) trans and non-binary individuals in the workplace, gender-neutral bathrooms have been proven to reduce wait times across the board and cut overhead costs (7). 

An increasing number of states and cities in the US and UK have either embraced gender-neutral bathrooms legislatively or are planning to enshrine laws for trans and non-binary people regarding bathrooms.

Adapt

An important part of any widespread change is the monitoring and evaluation of these changes. That way, you can identify what’s working and correct what’s not.

Data is at the core of this.

Quantitative data (from occupancy sensors, for example) can be incredibly powerful. But it’s equally important to augment this data with qualitative data, such as staff polling and surveys. Find out, firsthand, what employees prioritize when it comes to the workplace—and why. Then A-B test, iterate and adapt based on your findings.

Workplace design should always be a two-way conversation, and a dual approach to data collection ensures a continuously evolving workplace.

Redesigning your office for a hybrid workforce

Contributed by PropTech marketer Viveka Krishnaswamy.

As hybrid work becomes the standard among modern companies, each element of your office will need to be re-evaluated to ensure that it provides concrete value to your employees.

The ability to connect with colleagues will be paramount. We’ve learned that people can get work done from home, but that this comes at the expense of innovation, connectedness, and collaboration. One workplace survey found that only 40% of leaders would call their companies highly innovative in 2020, compared with 56% in 2019.

That said, there are a number of other areas of optimization that will also need to be addressed. Here’s what you’ll need to optimize for with a hybrid team, and how you can redesign your office to meet the needs of a distributed workforce.

Connectivity between distributed teams

Having a distributed workforce can lead to information silos, poor communication, and other organizational issues.

Unless you take the proper steps to create a seamless, integrated experience between on-site and remote employees. A RingCentral survey found that 41% of distributed workers cited collaborative work as the most challenging part of working during the pandemic.

Thoughtful restructuring of key zones in your office, combined with some technological investments and integrations, can help ensure that work can get done without a hitch.

Meena Krenek, an interior design director at Perkins&Will, notes the emergence of “Zoom rooms,” or conference rooms optimized for video conferencing.

You can replicate the feeling of an in-person meeting and create an equitable experience for all participants — no matter where they choose to work.

These meeting spaces incorporate 360-degree webcams, high-quality microphones, multiple screens, and even voice-tracking technology to ensure that, in any given meeting, remote workers don’t feel disconnected from their on-site counterparts. By implementing video conferencing technology and designating “Zoom rooms” in your office, you can replicate the feeling of an in-person meeting and create an equitable experience for all participants — no matter where they choose to work.

Flexibility

COVID-19 has rendered organizational rigidity largely obsolete as businesses are pressured to shift to more flexible ways of operating. The pandemic has highlighted a universal need for agility, especially related to the evolving world of work. We’ve now come to accept that organizational priorities evolve, work styles shift, and office occupancy ebbs and flows, and that such changes need to be anticipated to the extent possible.

One way to maximize workplace flexibility is by installing modular furniture. When workers transitioned back to the office in the latter half of 2020, it became clear that many office elements were impractical, at least for the time being. For example, the communal lunch table became temporarily defunct, while the need for “socially distant” meeting spaces increased.

Modular furniture can help you adapt your workplace to meet your needs at a given time; it’s lightweight, multi-functional, and easy to disassemble, making space reconfiguration simple. Modular workstations, for example, are made up of movable panels that you can lower to create a larger meeting space or keep up for more privacy.

As Amy Loomis, Research Director for IDC, puts it: “The future office space will be purpose-built to enable reconfigurable work arrangements that balance collaboration and privacy, group engagement and personal safety… The point will be to create adaptive and adaptable workspaces that are designed to accommodate a future of work that we don’t recognize yet”.

Dig deeper: Hear how Twilio’s Devorah Rosner is using dynamic spaces to make Twilio’s workspaces more agile. Watch the webinar.

It’s important not only to prepare for potential future crises but also to empower employee flexibility. Within a hybrid model, employees should be able to work how they work best. For collaborative sessions, this may be in an open office setting; for more heads-down tasks, this could be at home or in a designated quiet zone.

Rich Benoit, Senior Consultant at furniture company Steelcase, explains: “Just because I come into the office two days a week, doesn’t mean I only need a touchdown space because I’m there “part-time.” I still need access to privacy, the ability to find my colleagues and to be able to work in my rhythm”.

When restructuring your office, avoid creating one-size-fits-all layouts. Clusters upon clusters of desks without any private space, for example, won’t serve your employees. Instead, opt for multi-functional zones that you can adapt to a wide range of purposes. Alternatively, you can go for an activity-based model, in which each zone of your office is suited to a specific need.

Employee well-being

The pandemic has significantly heightened standards for employee well-being.

In a survey conducted by Stratus Building Solutions, 93% of workers surveyed expressed that, even after being vaccinated, they would need to feel confident about proper workplace sanitization practices before returning to work.

Even after being vaccinated, 93% of workers need to feel confident about proper workplace sanitization practices before returning to work.

Because they’re able to curate their home office environments to meet their health and wellness needs, employees will expect their office space to be similarly well-maintained and optimized for health and safety.

When structuring your office to meet the needs and expectations of a hybrid workforce, prioritize making your office healthy. Keep windows open when possible for additional ventilation and, if your return-to-work budget allows, invest in commercial-grade air purification systems. Make sure to invest in frequent cleaning and disinfecting (especially for any shared or common spaces).

Returning employees will also be conscious of frequently touched surfaces. When redesigning your workspace, see where you can implement touchless technology to reduce the spread of bacteria. This could apply to entryways, sink taps, light switches, and thermostats.

Additionally, you may wish to include implementing “safe” desk pods with plexiglass barriers for workers who prefer to remain socially distant.

Outside of physical health-focused measures, consider how to make your space work for your employees mentally. As we quash the idea of the office being the only place where work gets done, the office should evolve into a resource for employees. This means creating an inclusive, engagement-focused work environment that draws employees in.

When redesigning your space to meet your hybrid team’s needs, ask employees what they require in order to do their best work. Your goal should be to make the office a welcoming, comfortable place that fosters productivity and satisfaction.

A good place to start is by considering what employees can get in the office that they can’t get by working from home. For example, if you’re based in a dense metropolis like New York City, your local employees may not have enough space at home for a dedicated, quiet office area. Having fully-equipped, private workstations in your NYC office can help on-site employees better zone into their work.

Survey your employees to learn what would make the space ideal for their in-office days and implement suggestions to the extent feasible.

Generally, a few ways to support mental health with office design are:

  • Incorporating biophilic elements, which are proven to boost mood
  • Accommodating diverse work modes and preferences — for example, providing height-adjustable desks that allow employees to sit or stand
  • Creating lounge areas dedicated to relaxation and stress reduction
  • Fostering relationships by designating communal zones for socialization during breaks

By considering what your organization needs from the office environment moving forward, you can create an optimal experience for both on-site and remote employees.

CTA Test Post

Safe by Density

We’re proud to announce Safe, a new product from Density.

Safe is designed to help you re-open buildings sooner and keep your teams, employees, and visitors safe without invading privacy. Safe has three key features — Display, Analytics, and Alerts.

If you are an existing Density customer, this upgrade is free. If you’re a new customer, please email safe@density.io to get started.

Set a limit

Set your maximum capacity for any room, floor, or building and Safe will automatically determine if there’s enough space for people to enter.

Employee Insights On Hybrid Work

Safe by Density

We’re proud to announce Safe, a new product from Density.

Safe is designed to help you re-open buildings sooner and keep your teams, employees, and visitors safe without invading privacy. Safe has three key features — Display, Analytics, and Alerts.

If you are an existing Density customer, this upgrade is free. If you’re a new customer, please email safe@density.io to get started.

Set a limit

Set your maximum capacity for any room, floor, or building and Safe will automatically determine if there’s enough space for people to enter.

Upcoming Webinar

See how people vote with their feet:
An intro to workplace utilization heatmaps

Safe by Density

We’re proud to announce Safe, a new product from Density.

Safe is designed to help you re-open buildings sooner and keep your teams, employees, and visitors safe without invading privacy. Safe has three key features — Display, Analytics, and Alerts.

If you are an existing Density customer, this upgrade is free. If you’re a new customer, please email safe@density.io to get started.

Set a limit

Set your maximum capacity for any room, floor, or building and Safe will automatically determine if there’s enough space for people to enter.

Upcoming Webinar:

See how people vote with their feet:
An intro to workplace utilization heatmaps

Wednesday, February 16

10-10:45 a.m PST

Can’t make the live event? No problem. All registrants will be sent a link to the recording.

How the retail style trend is shaping the future of CRE designs

Have you noticed that companies who are adopting remote-first or flexwork are also fighting over ground floor leases?

It’s odd, isn’t it? Facebook, Google, Okta, Shopify have all recently opened multipurpose spaces in New York, Austin, and Los Angeles while allowing their entire staff to work from anywhere at any given time.

Over the past few months, we’ve had the same conversations with hundreds of workplace and real estate leaders; they’re all looking for the perfect mix of work flexibility while creating curated, branded spaces for in-person interactions.

One solution might be to go retail style.

The ground floor has always been reserved for retail, but we’re now witnessing companies merging these places of sale with their places of work. They’re mixing their employees and customers inside an immersive experience that has the comfort of your cozy corner coffee shop and the excitement of a product showroom.

Imagine an immersive experience that has the comfort of your cozy corner coffee shop and the excitement of a product showroom.

There’s a trend rising here. As we step closer to the metaverse and our world becomes more digitized, we’ll need to create a reason for our communal spaces. The solution is the reincarnation of the brand experience, where employees and customers meet, mingle, and interact within a physical space.

Brand and employee experience

Happy employees make happy customers. This truth is revealed in the surveys from the Best Companies to work at.

Not only do these top companies dedicate resources to their employee experience, but they’re also the ones reporting the most revenue, growth, innovation, and engagement from their customers. There is an undeniable correlation between the employee and customer experience.

“Shaping employee experiences through the framework of your brand helps find and retain the best and most committed talent for your organization,” says Mark Attard, President of Livewire, and Forbes contributor. “It attracts those whose values align, who possess an intuitive understanding of the brand, and who have an ability to interpret it at every customer touchpoint. This creates an improved customer experience.”

The Apple store might be the best example.

There’s an energy when you pass through those glass doors and surround yourself with their minimalist design. Employees, or Geniuses, are troubleshooting problems with a smile on their faces while customers spend hours checking out the latest Apple Watch update or MacBook Pro. Inside, there’s a sense of belonging, a world created by the Apple brand where everything is perfect, and everyone is magic.

The reinvention of our presence inside a space

Everyone had the same thought when the pandemic started, “Well if we’re all working from home, can’t we save millions by opting out of our office lease?” During the mass WFH exodus, we saw companies like Yelp and Mckesson Corp drastically cut down on their real estate portfolio and allow their employees to work from home.

It was the obvious choice, but there may be an alternative.

Although companies can downsize their office spaces, they might be missing out on an opportunity to reinvent their brand and create an entirely new experience. It’s not about minimizing your real estate portfolio, it’s about maximizing the value you can provide for your employees and customers.

It’s not about minimizing your real estate portfolio, it’s about maximizing the value you can provide for your employees and customers.

Shopify has just opened a new space in NYC dedicated to its customers, employees, and fans. This 8,000 square-foot space is dedicated to their customers with on-hand support providing consulting and creative studios, while building pop-up shops for customers to try products. They’re doubling down on their employee experience and at the same time providing workshops, classes, and recording studios for their customers.

The Shopify NY Podcast Studio

They are building an immersive experience bringing employees and customers together around the product, service, and brand they love. They’re providing a space where customers can touch, feel, and test-drive the brand while employees can engage and collect feedback on the product.

Mixing employees and customers in a brand new experience because both groups need a good reason to leave their homes today.

“Experience” is the best new amenity you can offer

It is motivating to see companies renovate their spaces and design for new amenities, but amenities solely won’t bring employees back to the office. It’ll be the experiences created by organizations and their teams. This is why we’re seeing an overhaul of community managers, events planners, employee experience designers, and internal communication experts.

We’re seeing a massive change in how we use our office spaces, indicating the shift and focus on the employee experience.

  1. What will our employees need when they come into the office?
  2. How can we re-engage and produce an experience worthwhile when they’re here?

As we adopt a more hybrid workforce and asynchronous work, we’re accepting new spaces where employees can come and go as they please — much like customers do. Companies are answering the call and are now transforming reception areas into inviting coffee shop settings, opening storefronts inside of their offices, and providing space where customers and employees can interact.

Okta’s new office space is a prime example of fusing these two worlds under one roof.

“The unique space, which will cover more than 6,500 square feet, will feature advanced technology and tools to enable Okta customers, prospects, partners, and employees to experience Okta’s products while also serving as a place for them to deepen connections and build community.”

Armen Vartanian, Senior Vice President, Global Workplace Services, Okta.

There’s no turning back.

Companies are fully aware of the changes needed in order to keep their bottom line in the green and retain their best talent. In other words, they’ll need to focus on their employees and customers. These groups are equally the two biggest assets of companies that have the greatest potential to become brand ambassadors.

By offering a space for them to gather and meet, they’re providing a foundation for brand love, new ideas, and new bonds.

But brand love relies on more than just a product or service. Today, people care about the identity of the brand, the kind of leaders behind the name, and the way they treat their employees. By focusing on creating an amazing experience for employees and customers, companies are investing in their long-term success.

A human touch

In a world becoming more and more “remote,” people are craving connection, belonging, authenticity and community.

Your best recipe: mixing fans, users, customers, employees, and even shareholders in a curated environment, allowing them to bond over barista-made latte art, testing out the new product, getting some branded goodies at the store and why not recording an episode in the brand new podcast recording studio on the first floor.

This recipe can increase your brand popularity, motivate your employees to deliver their best work,  and create a loyal customer base.

The future is now, and it’s beautiful.

Returning to campus after COVID-19

COVID-19 has highlighted the delicate balance between protecting student health through remote learning and providing an effective curriculum in a virtual classroom. Internet connectivity issues, constant distractions, and a lack of direct supervision can all hinder a student’s ability to succeed. As such, teachers and students (and parents) are particularly keen on returning to campus and getting back to work.

But in order to do this, there are a slew of safety issues that need to be addressed before schools can ensure the continued health and well-being of students and faculty. Capacity requirements, cleaning schedules, and university-family relations are all key considerations that institutions have to define before bringing students back.

Safe by Density provides schools with the real-time data they need to protect their community. Displays, Alerts, and public web-links offer students and faculty the ability to choose when to visit busy areas like cafeterias, libraries, and bookstores. Safe Analytics enables staff to streamline cleaning services based on actual usage. These metrics help schools maintain social distancing on campus, avoid exceeding capacity limits in high-density areas, and reassure families that all safety precautions are being taken to keep their students healthy.

Hotspot monitoring

High-density areas such as cafeterias, libraries, and gyms present a much higher risk for viral transmission because of constant student foot traffic. By utilizing Safe by Density, university staff and students can monitor the number of individuals in each of these ‘hotspots.’ Students can rely on accurate, real-time occupancy metrics to avoid crowded areas and navigate campus safely.

For example, many universities have two or more cafeterias in order to provide efficient meal-access for students on different sides of campus. Safe by Density allows those schools to set capacity limits on each cafeteria and disseminate that information to students. Then, students can decide which cafeteria is less crowded before they leave their dorm or study space, thereby saving time avoiding long lines and keeping themselves away from large groups where COVID-19 will have a better opportunity to spread between people.

“My friends and I have talked about how crowded [the cafeteria] gets right after class. I spend so much time just waiting to get in, I could be more productive during that time.” – Danielle Galvao, Computer Science major at Notre Dame

Usage-based cleaning

The majority of universities subscribe to hourly or timed cleaning schedules. While these can be effective in predicting when large rushes of students visit certain facilities, like cafeterias or study halls, there are many circumstances on campus when those schedules are too rigid to provide adequate cleaning services in changing environments that need immediate attention. Increased sanitation efforts will put a strain on maintenance and cleaning crews if they’re left to guess which buildings on campus need the most attention and how often.

Safe by Density equips custodians and cleaning staff with the tools to track and analyze the actual usage of school facilities. Being able to accurately monitor when a high volume of students visit certain facilities enables custodians to streamline staffing schedules and avoid cleaning areas that have been unused. A university’s custodial resources are crucial to the continued health and wellness of students and faculty, and this data helps them organize their efforts more effectively.

University-family relations

When it comes to schools reopening campuses, families are naturally (and rightfully) concerned about their student’s health and safety. It’s important to recognize that because campuses are central locations hosting thousands of people from all over the world, they inherently present an elevated risk of viral transmission. As such, many families are reluctant to send their children back to school, especially if the university isn’t implementing every possible precaution to navigate the risk. By integrating Safe by Density with university student portals, both parents and students can monitor the capacity of busy areas. This enables students to make informed decisions about where to spend their time, and it provides parents the opportunity to check on how the school is keeping up with the busyness of a new semester.

As a college student myself, having a system like Safe by Density implemented at school would give me peace of mind. It would show that my university is taking the necessary precautions to offer the college experience I deserve, while still ensuring that I have the tools to safely navigate my campus. Knowing that public spaces are being consistently monitored and sanitized would help me feel more comfortable visiting my whole campus and not just hiding out in my dorm and in the quad. We’re not sure what “normal” will look like after COVID, but systems like Safe by Density can grant students the opportunity to get back to school and focus on what we’re there to do: learn. 

CNN Interview: Returning to the office of the future

August 18, 2021

Density CEO Andrew Farah spoke to CNNs Alison Kosik about the challenges of the return-to-office, and how Density solves them.

Farah speaks about how the pandemic shifted the way workplace leaders think about space, the importance of respecting a reasonable expectation of privacy at the workplace, and the connection between Harry Potter and the future of Density.

“Some of the largest organizations in the world with tens of millions, hundreds of millions, and in some cases billions of square feet of space are all of a sudden going to start to become aware of the humans in them,” says Farah. “The big question is whether or not people deploy camera-based technology or anonymous by design, anonymous at the source technologies like Density.”

Introducing: Safe by Density

Safe by Density

We’re proud to announce Safe, a new product from Density.

Safe is designed to help you re-open buildings sooner and keep your teams, employees, and visitors safe without invading privacy. Safe has three key features — Display, Analytics, and Alerts.

If you are an existing Density customer, this upgrade is free. If you’re a new customer, please email safe@density.io to get started.

Set a limit

Set your maximum capacity for any room, floor, or building and Safe will automatically determine if there’s enough space for people to enter.

Safe Display

People are smart. Use Safe Display to give them the data they need to decide if they’re comfortable entering a space. Safe Display is optimized for any digital signage. Especially the signage you already have — tablet, tv, mobile, web, etc.

Safe Analytics

We know management teams want to bring their employees back safely. Safe Analytics keeps track of safety compliance across millions of sqft of space. Data about all your regions is available in real-time from anywhere in the world.

Safe Alerts

Rapid response is impossible if you lack visibility. When headcount reaches unsafe levels, Safe Alerts will notify security, safety, and workplace teams in real-time. We’ve natively integrated Density’s real-time notification system to push you data when it’s urgent. Safe Alerts support SMS, native push, and email. All you need to do is set a maximum and Density will do the rest.

Safe is being deployed into manufacturing plants, grocery chains, fulfillment centers, convenience stores, restaurants, and corporate real estate all around the world.

It is our sincere hope Density can help keep your people safe.

Andrew

Leverage Workplace Square Footage / Person Metrics to Manage Social Distancing

In the midst of the current COVID19 pandemic, the workplace management teams are focused on a singular question: How can I use my people-count data to plan for the health and safety of my colleagues when they return to work?

These teams have shifted from thinking about maximizing office space utilization for cost efficiency, to decreasing office density for social-distancing.  Their new goal is to maintain square footage/per person above minimum thresholds in order to give employees more space.

Use Historical Sq Ft/Person Devise and Test Your COVID19 Response

“What gets measured, gets managed.”  Sq ft/person is a clear metric that can help workplace teams set, and monitor against, specific targets to help de-densify their office spaces.

The 4th floor in the example above indicates an actual measured density of  261 sq ft/person on average, and 65 sq ft/person at peak.  Equipped with this data and a knowledge of the particular floor’s layout, a workplace manager may decide to target a minimum density of 300 sq ft/person on average and 150 sq ft/person at peak in order to make it easier for employees to social distance.

With these objective targets in mind, the workplace team is now equipped to structure and test different strategies to de-densify the 4th floor.  For example, seeing that the 2nd floor is significantly underutilized compared to the 4th floor may provide an opportunity to reassign teams from floor 4 to 2.  Alternatively the team might try other options such as implementing staggered in-office schedules, or a phase-based return-to-office plan.

Most importantly, the data above will provide continuous feedback on how the workplace team is performing against its goals. Communicating this data directly to employees will help build credibility and the peace of mind that the workplace team is focused on employees’ health and safety.

Apply This Approach Across Different Types of Spaces   

This approach is not just helpful for office floors.  One can leverage sq ft/person at the building-level, or in general-use spaces (e.g. cafeterias to help inform and test COVID-19 response strategies.

Building-Level Sq Ft / Person

Set up building-level sq ft/person reporting with as few as 5-10 people-count sensors (i.e. enough to cover all ground-level building entrances).  These sensors will count all the individuals who enter and exit your building – including badge employees and one-time visitors.  Additionally, these people-count sensors can alert security teams when tailgating occurs and provide sq ft/person metrics that are more complete and robust than simply using badge data.   

With these sensors in place, you can get a comprehensive, comparative view of your building and floor-level density metrics:

And go deeper on particular times and spaces of interest:

De-densifying general-use spaces will require maintaining occupancy caps relative to available space.  With this in mind, Density is soon to release Live Digital Displays which will display real-time Sq Ft/Person, and a Go/No-Go signal to the next person who wants to enter.  This will help grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and other public-use space limit occupancy in the interest of social distancing.   

Uncertainty is the hallmark of this COVID19 pandemic.  No one has all the answers about when or how to most safely return employees back to the office.  Objective, quantitative data such as sq ft/person metrics provide a foundation from which organizations can devise and test different strategies. 

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Density is singularly focused on helping its users prioritize health and safety in their spaces. Sharing ideas and best practices is invaluable.

We’d love to hear from you.

How is your organization planning for return-to-work in a post-COVID world? How are you making these decisions?

Contact us at cs@density.io.

Safe Return to Lunch

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are prioritizing health and safety at onsite cafeterias. Density customers are considering a number of options, including serving boxed lunches, increasing food-service staff to eliminate self-serve models, splitting employees across specific meal times with cleaning in between, and possibly eliminating breakfast and dinner service. 

Mealtimes contribute to employee satisfaction, productivity, and creativity. While implemented approaches will differ, workplace and facilities teams are looking for ways to preserve mealtime while keeping employees safe and healthy. 

As a Density customer, you can use your visits and occupancy data to:

  • Devise your back-to-work foodservice strategy
  • Adjust your strategy in real-time based on data
  • Build credibility and buy-in with employees

Devise your back-to-work foodservice strategy

By analyzing historical people-count data, workplace teams can discover employee behavior patterns to inform new policies.

Use Density to know when your cafe(s) was the busiest via the Analytics module. With Analytics, you can isolate your pre-COVID breakfast, lunch, and dinner service times to identify trends.

Density dashboard showing entrances to a cafe at 15 minute intervals

In the example above, you notice an interesting correlation between breakfast and lunch:

  • On Monday and Friday where breakfast entrances spike earlier in the morning, there is a singular large surge in entrances at 12 PM for lunch, indicating a higher likelihood of people clustering
  • On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday their entrances for breakfast spike later in the morning and you instead see two smaller surges for lunch, spreading entrances more evenly across the lunch service

Although we know that correlation doesn’t equal causation, this data suggests that when a majority of employees eat in the late morning, their visits for lunch are more evenly spread out through the meal service. These types of signals can be helpful to inform your initial mealtime service strategy. A combination of extending breakfast and lunch service hours, partnered with employee education about reducing the lunch rush may be sufficient to ease entrance volume. In more extreme cases, you may want to consider reducing the number of employees that enter the Cafe at 12 PM and flatten the curve of entrances over the lunch period so that people come at more varied times.

Adjust your strategy in real-time based on data

Historical Data is a great tool to inform policy, but you’ll need data to assess efficacy and adjust strategies in real-time once employees return to the office.

To quickly respond to spaces with distancing risks, you can set up mobile alerts to be notified whenever any of your eating areas or Cafes reach or exceed the safe capacity threshold you identified. 

Density also enables you to quickly spot spikes in entrances or occupancy work via the Analytics module. Knowing when and where the high-traffic areas are can support focused efforts to flatten the curve. As you adjust your policies, you can use the same tool to show how effectively you’re smoothing that curve over time.

Historically, some of our customers use a “10 AM signal” to forecast the busyness of the Cafe. After reviewing their data, they see there is a strong correlation between the occupancy of their office by 10 AM and the spike of entrances they will see in their Cafe for lunch. As they bring employees back to the office, they hope to continue to use the Density data to find similar indicators so their Facilities Ops and Cleaning teams have a better sense of how busy the Cafe will be during lunch.

You can also use Density data for executive summaries and other external reporting for individual cafes, or as a single pane of glass across your global portfolio. Density offers one-time or recurring email digests as a feature to share your people-count data more broadly as another tool to quickly assess the effectiveness of policies or programs.

Build credibility and buy-in with your employees

Clearly communicating context and importance of changes the workplace team is making on behalf of employees is critical to get buy-in. Access to real-time data enables employees to exercise more control over their own health and safety, including decisions like:

  • Where and when to eat
  • When to queue

Where and when to eat

Using Density’s Live View Dashboard, employees have easy access to real-time occupancy data and utilization of cafes. With this information, employees can identify which cafes are getting busier or quieter at a glance and make an informed decision about when and where to go for lunch.

Access to real-time data also takes pressure off of workplace and facilities teams as employees have the necessary tools to self regulate. 

When to queue

In addition to Density Live, some customers customize digital signage to post outside their cafe and key places around the office to provide visual cues to their employees when it is safe to enter the space. 

At default, the status board will show how many people are in the cafe and how close it is to being full to inform the employee if it is safe to enter or if they should continue to wait outside until someone else has left. The recommendation is based on the target square footage per employee your team has set as its threshold. We’re actively partnering with customers to customize status boards for their unique parameters, let us know if you’d like to discuss a custom solution for your organization.

Whatever measures your company takes to keep employees safe and healthy as we all adjust back to the office, employee perception will be paramount. Empowering employees with data they can use to make the best decisions for themselves and their teams will help to expedite the process of feeling safe in their workplace again and build support and credibility around safety initiatives.

In this unprecedented time, our highest priority is people’s health and safety. Sharing ideas and best practices is how we’ll all return to work in the safest way possible.


We’d love to hear from you!

How is your organization evolving your approach and policies in a post-COVID world? 

What inputs are you using to make these types of decisions? 

Contact us at cs@density.io or tweet us @densityio.