Last January, a new technology was in the works created by Nick Eurek. After spending three years on this product, Eurek was ready to reveal it to the world. The product is called Maptician, which is an analytical tool that is used to map the floor plan of office areas showing employees in real-time where people are located throughout the office areas. The idea behind the program is for employees to help maximize time spent with their colleagues. Unfortunately, last spring’s pandemic changed the launch of the new program.
Eurek said, “Our big push was how to get more people to spend more face-to-face time with each other, in order to get to know their co-workers. Now you’re talking about things that have a bit more gravity.”
Since the pandemic began, Eurek has gone back and taken another approach to the software. Instead of it being used to track colleagues time spent together, it now tracks employee scheduling and analyzes floor plans to be used to help workers avoid each other.
For millions of Americans who wish to rejoin the office, the questions still arise of when and how. In bigger metro cities like San Francisco and New York, many offices are still running at less than 50% of pre-pandemic capacity. For companies that have resumed at minimal capacity, they are controlling how they re-open by using algorithms which helps companies shuffle employees, schedule meetings, map office hot spots, and maintain safe distances among employees.
Currently fifty business are using the Maptician software allowing employers to keep their in-person employees as socially distant as possible, along with detecting areas of high transmission risk such as desks spaced too closely, narrow walkways and enclosed conference rooms. The office maps are also time-sensitive, which means companies can use them as a form of contact tracing. If an employee in the office reports a positive Covid-19 test, other employees can go into the map and see if they were ever seated nearby.
The Maptician uses algorithms that include different matrices that can automatically keep track of hours different office employees spent in the office and then awards future time depending on who has already gotten their office time. Michael Colacino, president of SquareFoot says, “What happens is you get your allocation, and once you’ve used it, there’s a penalty function that downgrades your importance and upgrades other people’s importance. That made people feel good, because it didn’t make things seem lopsided.”
Colacino says the algorithm is just an easier way for SquareFoot to keep the business running while providing a level of assurance that safety is what’s driving any workplace reopening. So far, the tool has not had to sort through a large number of employees returning to the office. The largest number of people in the SquareFoot office at the same time has been 12. It is a safer way to help employers follow safe reopening protocols.
During the pandemic, some businesses have brought employees back to the office, but many such as Microsoft, Target, Uber and Ford are keeping the work from directive in place until July of 2021. Some of the large tech companies like Amazon, Apple and Facebook are taking a different approach and purchased 1.6 million square feet of office space during this year.
Eric Jacobson, vice president of product at Sales Force Field Service said, “I think we all expected we would be back in our offices by the summer or early fall. When they do open, it’s not just going to be let’s pretend we’re back in February as though nothing ever happened.” Instead, he sees a slower climb back to normalcy. “It’s going to be a ramp — and that’s where technology is going to enable companies, and more importantly enable their employees, to feel safe.”
Being able to devise algorithms for a safer reopening during the pandemic could be a big win in the tech worlds attempt at ensuring businesses go back with some peace of mind to a safer office space and could also be a big payoff in new technology.