Reducing Touch in the Workplace: A Few Examples of Simple Technology Upgrades

June 4, 2020
By Garrett Chumbley and Randy Montelius

COVID-19 has brought about many changes – from where we work to how we interact. Although we’d likely all agree that these shifts have been stressful (and a little frustrating at times), we think there’s a silver lining in almost any situation.

In this case, the global pandemic has brought about a renewed focus on secure, hygienic environments. It has given everyone the chance to pinpoint potential vulnerabilities and improve on the way we’re running our businesses.

As organizations slowly move toward bringing people back to offices, schools, hotels, and houses of worship, there will be a demand to keep everyone safe and healthy. To do this, protocol surrounding social distancing and physical contact will be key. Duty of care will be top of mind: Every company or organization has a responsibility to protect their people from unnecessary risk or harm.

Until recently, “touch” was a universal and easy way to interact and communicate – whether through a digital signage display, a shared screen in a conference room, a POS system at a retail store, a sign-in system at your doctor’s office, or even biometric fingerprint readers on computers and at entrances.

Now, every time you touch something, it’s hard not to wonder: Who touched it before? What germs are waiting? Decreasing these points of contact also reduces the chance that a virus will spread.

In the future, it’s very likely that touch technology will be replaced with voice activation or gesture technology in some applications. Here are a few examples of how this may play out:

  • Modified touchless intercoms. Right now, most entrance intercoms require you to push a button to activate communication. Many existing intercom systems can be altered to activate via hand gesture or voice instead of pressing a call button, eliminating the need to touch the device.
  • Mobile credentials. Using your smartphone as an authorization token offers many benefits. In addition to decreasing the need for physical keys and badges, mobile credentials serve another purpose, too: reducing physical contact with devices. Not only do mobile credentials eliminate the need to push buttons on an access control keypad (which is touched by hundreds or thousands of other people), but they also reduce the need to touch a card reader. Although readers are technically touchless, many people end up touching the devices as they hold up their badges. Using your smartphone to gain access still requires “touch” … but at least you’re touching your own device and not one shared by several other people.
  • Security entrances. Instead of doors with handles, levers, or knobs, touchless security entrances provide access control while also letting people enter and exit without using their hands. Once someone presents a valid credential or identity – or waves their hand in front of a sensor (depending on necessary security levels) – the entrance automatically opens with no touching required.
  • Wireless presentation technology. In a typical meeting room, sharing information on a laptop or tablet means finding the right cord and connecting it to a screen – or using a dedicated computer in the room that multiple people log into. It may also involve a remote, controller, or touchscreen. Wireless presentation technology lets users share content without pushing buttons or touching cables or cords. Instead, meeting attendees share content directly from theirown device with just a few simple clicks, taps, or swipes.

As gesture- and voice-activated solutions are deployed, it will be important to create intuitive, easy-to-understand instructions so users know exactly what to do. Touch has become such a natural part of our everyday lives that specific movements or actions (hand waving, voice commands, or swiping) may not be obvious right away.

If implementing touchless technology seems a little overwhelming, CEC is here to help. In addition to pointing you to the right solutions for your specific situation, we also offer a Managed Systems Program (MSP), which gives you the technology you need without dipping into your capital budget to make it happen. Instead, we create a custom package for you that contains everything you need (along with regular maintenance and updates). You pay a flat monthly fee, with the option to upgrade to the latest technology at the end of your term.

Want to learn more about touchless technology? Watch our short 20 Minutes of Tech webinar on demand!

Vice President of Technology Randy Montelius joined CEC in 1982 and has held positions in field operations, service, sales, management, and engineering. Today, he applies his passion for technology as he helps employees solve complex business issues for customers.

After he received his telecommunications degree in 1998, Garrett Chumbley landed a systems technician position at CEC. More than two decades later, he’s still a CEC employee. The insight and perspective he brings to clients – thanks to his time in the field, as well as his roles in service, operations, and sales through the years – are one of a kind. As VP of business development, he helps with customer needs assessments and new sales channel opportunities.

Back to Top