The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the C-Suite to prioritise workplace safety and employee well-being like never before. With countries beginning to ease lockdown restrictions around the world, organisations are having to think practically about workplace management, social distancing measures, the health and well-being monitoring of employees, as well as the tracking of movement in and out of premises.
This week at Knowledge 2020, ServiceNow announced a number of new applications (building on a previous release) that aim to make these changes easier for company leaders. Knowledge 2020 is running as a six week virtual event this year - you can visit the event directly here, or view all of diginomica's coverage on our dedicated resource hub here.
Cloud vendors are making a play for the COVID-19 workplace and employee management space, given that it is becoming increasingly clear that the world of work is unlikely to go back to ‘normal' anytime soon.
Where ServiceNow feels it has an advantage is that its workflow ‘one platform' has always been intended to be used cross-functionally in companies. In other words, it's built to create services that tap into the systems of record across HR, IT, legal, facilities etc.
This, in theory, becomes useful when you're trying to manage the workplace and employee services across an entire organisation. We got the chance to speak to Blake McConnell, ServiceNow's SVP Employee Workflow Products, about the release of the new apps. He said:
Interest in employee experience, employee health and safety, has become super important. And it has become important in the context of, is the workforce ready? And is the workplace ready?
What we are seeing across the board is that this is a C-level discussion around employees, employee wellness and how to communicate with employees proactively during this period. The theme of keeping a pulse on your employees is high.
ServiceNow Safe Workplace Apps
There are four new Safe Workplace apps being released this week on the Now Platform, which include a dashboard that helps companies assess their workplace and workforce readiness.
The apps are:
Employee Readiness Surveys - This helps organizations gauge their workforce's level of preparedness to return to the workplace by presenting and capturing employee responses to a series of questions that address employees' personal readiness for and level of interest in returning to the workplace.
Employee Health Screening - This enables companies to screen employees before entering the workplace to ensure compliance with entry requirements such as temperature check and personal protective equipment (PPE) allowing employers to determine if it's safe for the employee to enter the workplace. The app also provides a reporting dashboard to view trends by sites and record the return of employees into their facilities.
Workplace Safety Management - This allows facilities and workplace services managers to configure clean and hygienic, socially distanced workspaces so that employees can safely return to the workplace. The app lets managers assign shifts so that employees occupy these workspaces for a specific amount of time and configure cleaning schedules at the end of each shift. Out‑of‑the‑box reports and dashboards give managers a real‑time view of both workspace reservations and reservation thresholds across floors, buildings and sites. Workplace managers also have a real‑time view of all cleaning task status, including a full audit trail history.
Workplace PPE Inventory Management - This helps organizations manage and monitor their PPE inventory needs to ensure the physical safety of their workforce. The app's dashboard provides a view of inventory by facility, as well as an aggregate look at the entire workplace and historical data on how equipment levels have changed over time. Inventory levels can be updated daily for real‑time inventory management.
These apps build on ServiceNow's earlier COVID-19 crisis response apps, which have been helping government agencies and enterprises manage their response to the pandemic. ServiceNow has said that the apps have already had more than 6,000 installations to date.
McConnell said that ServiceNow was able to build these apps within 2 weeks, in response to demand from customers. In addition, the company said it is providing the Safe Workplace Dashboard at no extra charge, which will also include aggregated public data on infection rates.
McConnell warned, however, that companies should be focusing on choice for employees as a priority and that CEOs should lead with empathy when carrying out discussions about a return to workplaces. He said:
Number one, choice is important. Back to work is not something that we actually say, because a lot of people are at home and arguably working harder than they ever had. They're balancing families, professional lives, distance learning. So we talk about returning to workplace.
Workforce readiness - a lot of that is about having a good communication strategy with your employees. Being able to survey them, to understand not just their physical health, but their mental health and their current situation. Empathy and ongoing comms is super important.
Then the workplace readiness is all about the cubes, the offices, the capacity on a floor, the checking in and out, understanding where employees have been, understanding who is coming into the building.
And as noted above, McConnell and ServiceNow believe that the Now Platform is well suited to solving these problems for companies, as their core ambition in recent years has been cross-function workflows and delivering services that break down organisational silos. He said:
We're a single platform company. We think about capabilities for the various departments that may exist inside of a company. Employees cut across the enterprise. Employees just need help.
What I would say with respect to the COVID-19 situation is that those walls that have created clumsiness or inefficiencies between those departments - those walls are crumbling down. You are seeing all these department and service leaders really rally around this theme of employee safety, health of employees and returning employees to the workplace.