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For workplaces ready to reopen, IISc has an online self-assessment tool

The COVID-19 Workplace Readiness Indicator considers broad epidemic factors and social objectives, and suggests a simple readiness threshold that organisations need to meet or exceed in order to operate effectively while managing their pandemic response, the IISc statement explained.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Published: June 15, 2020 5:52:49 pm
Named ‘COVID-19 Workplace Readiness Indicator,’ the tool has been developed by a team of IISC researchers in collaboration with the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA).

As workplaces are readying to begin operations after the coronavirus lockdown, an online self-assessment tool developed at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) could come in handy for many.

Named ‘COVID-19 Workplace Readiness Indicator,’ the tool has been developed by a team of IISC researchers in collaboration with the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA).

“The tool not only scores an organisation’s readiness but also provides some targeted suggestions if specific weaknesses are identified,” Nihesh Rathod, a Cisco-IISc. PhD scholar at the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering, who helped develop the tool, said.

According to an IISc release issued Monday, the tool was developed as part of research efforts at the new Centre for Networked Intelligence (CNI) established at the institute. The project was supported by a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative from Cisco, a multinational technology conglomerate.

Further, the Karnataka government has recommended this advisory tool to various organisations in the state as they begin operations adhering to ‘Unlock-1’ guidelines.

However, KSDMA Commissioner Manoj Rajan said the end of the lockdown would not automatically mean a return to the old normal. “Opening will take different shapes, with different regions and different business sectors opening up in different ways and at differing speeds,” he said.

Rajan added that organisations would now need to take a holistic approach as they restart operations. “Emerging from the lockdown, companies, and workplaces will need to be more vigilant about health and increase their demands on safety,” he said.

‘Tool recommends effective strategy’

The COVID-19 Workplace Readiness Indicator considers broad epidemic factors and social objectives, and suggests a simple readiness threshold that organisations need to meet or exceed in order to operate effectively while managing their pandemic response, the IISc statement explained.

“They (offices) can then decide for themselves their best mix (shifts, precautions taken, company advisories, and others) to maximise their business objectives while adhering to this threshold,” researchers added.

Further, the team claims that the tool is simple and easy to use.

For instance, an organisation can enter relevant information about their workplace and their current level of operation. Readiness is calculated using ten specific indices, each with a maximum score of 100. These include infrastructure, precautions, outreach, employee interactions, transport, details of eateries, hygiene and sanitation.

“The overall readiness index is the sum of the ten individual readiness indices. The tool scores the organisation’s readiness across various categories and provides a consolidated report,” researchers explained.

At the same time, a percentile for a particular office will be shown by the tool comparing the same to similar workplaces.

“Once enough organisations use the tool, each organisation can see where it stands among other organisations of the same kind. Such a comparison may induce organisations to be proactive and take more positive steps towards mitigating the pandemic,” Rajesh Sundaresan, Professor, Department of Electrical Communication Engineering, who led the project, said.

Meanwhile, Krishna Sundaresan, Vice-President, Engineering, Cisco India & SAARC shared his observation that technology is once again playing a significant role in ensuring employees’ safety, which is a top priority for any organization.

“Technology served as the greatest enabler of business continuity, as workforces across India turned remote, in the beginning. In many ways, this pandemic has emphasised that people come first, and that we are better together,” Sundaresan said.

Further, the Institute informed that the team of researchers is continuing to work on improving the tool and its usage. “The readiness tool has been put together in a very short time to help organisations navigate operational difficulties,” the statement added.

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