Pete is a VP of Technology at ThreeWill. Pete’s primary role is driving the overall technology strategy and roadmap for ThreeWill. Pete also serves as ThreeWill’s Hiring Manager and is constantly looking for new talent to join the ThreeWill Team.
As businesses begin re-opening offices and facilities, many are looking for ways to ensure employees, visitors and staff have a safe work environment and are not contributing to the spread of COVID-19 while returning to work. According to the CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 businesses should “…consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) of employees before they enter the facility…”. So now you may be asking yourself, “how do I create a pandemic response request workflow for MY company?”
If you are a small business and a Microsoft 365 customer, these health checks may be implemented by simply combining Power Platform and other Microsoft 365 services. For large businesses, an enterprise-scale application for managing health checks can be implemented using Microsoft 365 and Azure to enable access to your facilities. Both solutions can be used to ensure employee safety, reduce transmission, and assist with contact tracing in the event of confirmed COVID-19 cases in your facilities.
A Small to Medium Size Business Solution
For small to medium-size businesses with a single or small number of facilities, a solution with Power Platform can be created easily and enables both health checks prior to employees entering a facility, as well as tracking facility attendance to limit daily facility employee density.
At ThreeWill, we will be implementing a solution we have already created (see screenshots) based on the following:
- Microsoft Form: A simple form to be completed daily requesting facilities access. The Form will be accessible online as a link on the SharePoint Home page and from a QR code at all entrances to our facility. Employees can then complete the health checks prior to departing from home for a facility or just prior to entering the office as needed.
- Power Automate: Using a Flow triggered by each Form created event, an employee’s responses are tracked as well as facility capacity. Access to the facility is granted based on answers to form AND facility capacity or office population density to reduce virus transmission.
- Exchange Online: The Flow emails employees immediately, approving or denying facilities access daily.
- Excel Online: The Flow also uses Excel Online to store Form data and track daily facility capacity in a Private Team to enable contact tracing in the event of confirmed cases.
- Microsoft Teams: Finally, our office is relatively small so social distancing in the office requires limiting office capacity. If the facility reaches capacity, a message is posted to a companywide Team indicating that the daily capacity has been reached and no additional employees will be granted access for the current day.
Using Microsoft Forms, the Power Platform, email and Excel enables employees to request access to a facility while enabling businesses to adhere to guidelines and help reduce transmission while returning to office routines.
An Enterprise Solution
While the combination of Microsoft Forms and Power Automate may work well for a single or small number of locations, this solution will not scale to tens or hundreds of locations, thousands of employees or more stringent security and facilities access requirements.
For enterprises, we are working with customers to build more scalable solutions that can address enterprise needs. We are currently building ASP.NET Core API and Single Page App front end web application that is accessible via desktops, mobile devices, and kiosks. These solutions enable a much greater scale, integration with facilities processes and local security, email, on-screen, and SMS notifications, scales to thousands of locations, and much more. The applications are more complex but can still be created rapidly (2 – 4 weeks) using services from Microsoft Azure to enable rapid development, efficient scaling, and a wide variety of integration options.
Pandemic Response Request Workflow – Wrapping It All Up
While the pandemic continues to redefine how work is done for many businesses, enabling the return to facilities while continuing to reduce the transmission of the virus and keeping employees safe is possible. If you are a Microsoft 365 customer, regardless of size, you have a powerful toolset at your fingertips to help ensure a safe work environment for employees returning to offices and facilities.
If you are looking for solutions to help return to your facilities safely, please let us know. We are here to help.