AI can make workplaces efficient and intelligent: Dinesh Malkani, ex-president (India, Saarc) Cisco

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Published: July 16, 2020 3:15 AM

As we prepare for the unlocking phase, companies are trying to identify how to work in this new normal without compromising on the safety of their people.

DINESH MALKANI, Founder, Smarten SpacesDINESH MALKANI, Founder, Smarten Spaces

One of the biggest challenges for companies during this pandemic is to ensure a safe work environment for employees. In an extended period of uncertainty, to reopen workplaces is to reinvent the business. Smarten Spaces, a fast-growing PropTech startup, is assisting businesses with its back-to-work app—Jumpree WorkSafe— to assist in business continuity as per social distancing norms. Dinesh Malkani, ex-president (India & Saarc) for Cisco, and founder, Smarten Spaces, talks about the anticipated changes at the workplace, current inefficiencies and the role of emerging technologies during and post Covid-19, in an interview with Sudhir Chowdhary. Excerpts:

As the third worst-hit nation, how do you see India reopening its offices and getting people back to work?
Safety and space optimisation are the two topmost priorities. As we prepare for the unlocking phase, companies are trying to identify how to work in this new normal without compromising on the safety of their people. All this requires seamless processes to be integrated into the workplace with transparent communication about guidelines and protocols. Technology can help implement such practices while giving the employees and management a single connected platform for workplace safety.

What would the new workplace look like?
The new normal of the workplace can be categorised into two: ‘Safety and Wellness’ and ‘Flexible Working’ in offices. Processes for safety need to be introduced to check the health and travel history of anyone who enters the premises, contactless services such as employee access, visitor entry, payments, seat and meeting room bookings.

To complement ‘Safety and Wellness’, businesses will need to take a relook at their operations to manage employees working in multiple locations and those coming to work at flexible hours. Managing this increased communication with all stakeholders can be made efficient through a single integrated technology solution at all levels.

What would be the role of technology (AI, IoT, ML) in this?
Companies can reduce their overall space cost by 20-30% by leveraging AI-based technologies for seat and space management. With a possibility of only 10-70% of the workforce returning to offices in a phased manner, businesses can finally implement a completely flexible model for their employees.
This dynamic system with employee information, floor and seating plans, manager controls for intra-team allocation and facilities team synchronisation cannot be done manually. We need a robust integrated technology, which lets you manage and control these multitudes of information levers. When topped with the AI layer, the real estate team also gets insights into what is best suited to minimise space costs and increase efficiency.

How is Smarten Spaces addressing this problem?
Smarten Spaces’ end-to-end AI digital platform disrupts a $19.9 billion smart space industry with a complete solution for businesses to ensure maximum safety, productivity and efficiency at their spaces. Jumpree WorkSafe, an integrated AI technology solution, was developed for workplace-readiness in light of the Covid-19 situation, to ensure employee safety and optimise workspaces. It helps in mapping the employee journey at work. Through a 10-step process, the solution ensures every employee, tenant or visitor is pre-screened for travel and health, tracking every entry and exit along with temperature readings. Employees can select and book seats and view their sanitisation status, book a sanitised meeting room, adhere to social measures at common areas, have staggered lunch breaks and make contactless payments at the cafeteria. It gives the business a central platform to provide instant updates to their employees and share any new protocols, along with one-touch access to the company helpline.

How has the industry responded to Jumpree WorkSafe?
Jumpree WorkSafe has been deployed across leading real estate and enterprise companies in India, UK, China, US, Australia, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. Jumpree WorkSafe is used by global technology pioneers, real-estate companies, financial institutions, electronic, engineering companies, and many more. A leading APAC-focused logistics real-estate platform clocked in 100% usage of the ‘Self-Assessment’ feature. One of the world’s largest confectionery companies has noticed an increased employee satisfaction, leading to an 80% adoption, with Jumpree WorkSafe to be deployed in its offices in Chicago, Mumbai, Shanghai, Moscow, Melbourne, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

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