“There’s a general move toward more collaborative and remote working, and whether it’s the virus or people’s mental well-being, we have seen a pattern in every country.”, says Simon Hayward, Vice President EMEA, Domo, in an exclusive interview with ITBusiness Today.
ITBT Bureau: Employee safety is paramount in today’s uncertain times. How do business leaders manage it, especially with the focus on getting back to work?
Simon Hayward: We see various communication apps all over the world, and in our own organization, that could be using WhatsApp or SMS for checking on your employees and how they are. Even in normal times, most organizations have troubleshooting systems, with areas where you can use and figure out the data of the employees. You can track what they are doing, so why wouldn’t you bring them back together at this trying time? Why wouldn’t you supplement them with an app that effectively allows you to know about the employees’ wellbeing, without encroaching on their personal data or any of the things they don’t want to show?
We started all this process way back before the pandemic and what we have done since is evolve our thinking to align with what our customers are looking for and trying to achieve, as they are looking to get their employees back to work.
ITBT Bureau: If offices continue to be open, what is the advantage that the app is going to provide for both employers and employees?
Simon Hayward: If you break it into functionalities, it is not necessarily about getting back into the office. There is a lot that needs to happen before that to give the employee and the employer the confidence that the workplace is safe enough to come into. We have evolved our thinking and our products with the Safe Worker app.
With the drive to create a better experience for everybody involved, the Safe Worker App is one of the first applications that really allow you to enhance the process effectively. If there is any confusion, the app will suggest you either get tested, or arrange an interaction with medical personnel.
The Contact Tracing app effectively looks at where those employees is within the organization, which building in the campus, who they’re interacting with, busy areas that they’ve visited, and how you can, most importantly, alert everybody involved as soon as there’s been an outbreak.
A third application that ensures comprehensive tracing management is the Command Center, which effectively allows leaders to access and analyze this data. However, all of those things are historically stored in different databases. It is important to get this information together and extract data from it in a meaningful way for a business leader (not a technologist). This makes data easy to understand and efficient for the whole company.
ITBT Bureau: You say that today’s executive cannot afford to look back, so there will be a new normal; offices will never be as they were before, so how do you foresee the future of the new normal?
Simon Hayward: Today, the responsibility of the employer to keep the employees safe has changed. There is an expectation set to provide every employee with a sufficient level of data, and it’s never been more important for people in all areas of businesses to be able to get this information and make decisions very quickly, based on all of this data. Getting access to such critical information has been difficult in the past, but now, businesses can easily pull the information, analyze it, and allow business people to quickly make informed decisions.
ITBT Bureau: What happens if there’s another round of shutdown? How does that work?
Simon Hayward: While businesses are planning to open, the reality is that we will see a change in the shift of our working pattern. Most businesses have proven that you can be productive by working from home and therefore, there’s a lot of conversation around how many people are less willing to, or may never return to the office. However, this is not entirely true.
After speaking with some business people and organizations they see that their employees want flexibility. We at Domo, see our part being to help facilitate that flexibility. The Safe Worker App interacts with your device and locates each employee’s position, and if there’s a regional shutdown in the UK or any other country, we are able to identify your employees that may be impacted.
ITBT Bureau: Given the real estate scenario, there are lots of offices that are looking at co-working. Will the app help in these kinds of organizational structure, even after the pandemic comes to an end?
Simon Hayward: It definitely will. There might be less emphasis on contact tracing because you are already ensured that your workspace is properly sanitized. The ability to communicate with your employee is constant; you need to be able to check in on the wellbeing of your employee and be able to communicate with people.
There’s a general move toward more collaborative and remote working, and whether it’s the virus or people’s mental well-being, we have seen a pattern in every country.
We use all these technologies such as Zoom, Google Chat, and Hangouts, but the reality is that this is very one-dimensional communication. What we at Domo are trying to do is supplement that with data and make the communication two-dimensional.
ITBT Bureau: So how do you see digital transformation panning out in light of the current pandemic?
Simon Hayward: We talk about this a lot, how you get new types of information in ways that allow their users to make better decisions. The concept of a CEO making decisions based on gut and instinct is going to change. If you can make that gut instinct more data-driven and supported by other information, assuming access to quicker and timely data, successful businesses will be able to harness the power of that data, to allow business people to make decisions much more quickly.