Social Distancing in Workplaces

Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household. To practice social distancing is stay at least between 1,5m and 2m away from other people who are not from your household, or keeping the 6-feet rule depending on your geographical location.

This is one of the most effective measure intended to prevent the spread of COVID19 or better said, any aerial contagious disease. Several studies also said that, specially with COVID19, this measure is critical in closed and indoor areas, like workplaces.

So, it seems that if organizations wants to assure a safe back to work, it will be necessary to help keep that social distancing and indeed, it is been accomplished. But how can we do that?

Is it enough reducing general capacity?  Or reducing occupancy or limiting the maximum number of people in a meeting room? No, it is not. Because in all these examples, although there is a people limitation, they can be side by side so the social distancing would not being accomplished and the risk of infection would be increasing.This situation is clearly undesirable.

What are the most critical workplace’s spaces to measure social distancing?

Inside a workplace there are many kinds of spaces that social distancing should be measure because there is a great amount of potential interactions between people:

  • Workstations
  • Meeting rooms
  • Canteen
  • Informal areas
  • Passing areas
  • Waiting zones

Maybe you are thinking that in workstations or tables areas it is fair enough show specific signages or stickers  indicating which seats are allowed to be used. But how can you be sure that people use them properly, as they were set? Or that a visit is not seated closer? If you want to be quiet about your workspace safety and you are doing as much as you really can do to make it so, you must monitor social distancing accomplishment in every space.

How can we measure social distancing?

There are many technologies that allow to control capacity or occupancy. Nevertheless measuring social distancing it is not trivial. It is necessary to know where every person is in a room and being able to compare each position between them. And do it in an accurate way. Indeed, you can afford a 50 cm error whatsoever.

So, it is mandatory that the measurement shows as much precision and precision as technology allows. That means, that video processing technologies are the proper ones to monitor social distancing with guarantee. Wi-fi location or beacon location solutions do not address the problem properly because of their precision and accuracy limitations that would drive into an un trustable and useless approach.

So, the adequate technology seems to be a computer vision based one. But furthermore, it requires a continuous, independent and an autonomous system (not integrated in security cameras) to guarantee high levels of people detection. Just in this way you  you will get the following advantages:

  • 100% of people detection.
  • Full coverage of all areas.
  • Precision below 10cm.
  • Accuracy over 99%.
  • Processing in real time.

How to use social distancing information?

Once we have detected by specific areas how people is accomplishing social distancing rules, it is time to wonder what is happening in those areas that mostly physical distancing is not being respected… and make changes!

For example, if repeatedly you detect that in the workstations area, social distancing is not being accomplished maybe it is time to change the signages, or review your protocols, or maybe both. Or even you should strength your messages and communication with employees.

If these infringements take place in passing areas, we can think that it is necessary to change the path signage or increase communication.

But the first step will be always the identification of social distancing breaks and the areas. Once the red flag arises, then take action and improve those protocols that are not working and improve them.

If you cannot ask 100% sure about how well employees, visitors, and customers are accomplishing the social distancing protocols,  it is time to face the situation and think about if your workplace is health and trusty enough.