A New Phase

The coronavirus outbreak has revealed a critical need for the packaging industry. Factories along with distribution and fulfillment centers continue to be challenged daily by COVID-19, as it has caused an unexpected increase in demand with limited supplies and laborers. According to Business Insider, as May kicked off, the state and city populations affected by some kind of stay-at-home order was totaling to about 199 million people, or about 60 percent of the U.S. population, a significant decrease from the end of March, where 42 states and more cities and counties were under stay-at-home orders — a total of 308 million people, or 94 percent of the U.S. population.  At this time, we witnessed an across-the-board shift in consumer behavior to buying online across all industries, from grocery to medical supplies to retail.

This change in buying habits has indeed strained operations and the ability of companies to meet the unpredicted customer demand, and this unexpected peak comes with the complications of having to work under new health and safety guidelines for social distancing as well.

Apprehensively, we are now entering a new pandemic phase – time for a change once again. While the many people that have been deemed “essential workers” have not stopped working throughout the coronavirus pandemic, some employees have just begun anxiously returning to the workplace, with others soon to follow in the conflict to reopen the country. Even though business owners and employees alike want to get back to some aspect of normal, it does not come without anxiety or the questions of “what if I get sick?”

With this fear in mind, companies are doing what they can to keep positive and safe work environments – creating detailed safety plans and sanitization procedures in facilities, providing protective equipment, and some are even working in the direction of having testing available for employees who show symptoms of COVID-19.

One company trying to help workers feel more in control and less anxious is New York-based consulting firm FROM, The Digital Transformation Agency, whom has been hard at work developing a unique and secure social distancing app that helps employees keep their distance while at work.

How does it work, you ask? According to press materials, the employee installs the app on their phone and wears it on an armband while they attend work. If employees come within six feet of each other, Social Safety alerts them through beeps, vibration and light display. As employees get closer together, the sounds and display become more urgent so there is no ambiguity or confusion about what to do.

The social distancing app also keeps a secure, private record of accidental close contact between people at a location, so that in the case of infection, employers will be able to warn employees of potential exposure risk for self-quarantine purposes.

Many companies have been working diligently and rising to the challenges COVID-19 has brought to the workplace, creating solutions both onsite and off. Has your company done anything unique or significant rising to new challenges?  Let’s discuss it and I can let you know how you can be highlighted in our added feature to the July issue of Packaging Technology Today “Rising to the Challenge.”