9 tech products companies can buy for reopening offices during the pandemic


There are a range of new products available to help the enterprise prepare to safely bring employees back to the workplace.

Offices are reopening after weeks of working from home due to the pandemic. Unless the business has adopted Twitter’s example (all remote, all the time), companies will  need to adapt the existing office setup, or implement safety features in the office space to help fight the spread of COVID-19. 

In addition to keeping six feet apart, and wearing masks, the nine products on this list will help to build confidence for anyone wary of returning to the workspace.  Reopening options include customizable panels, overhead UV disinfecting lights, voice activated trash cans, private and secure booths, and a temperature kiosk. The latter is the first step, right at the entrance to the office to start the process of creating a healthy and safe office environment. 

Humanscale WellGuard Separation Panels


Image: Humanscale

Employers are trying to facilitate a safe return to work, without disrupting the work flow established from the months of telecommuting due to the coronavirus. Humanscale’s WellGuard Separation Panels are customizable to desk size, easy to install, and durable. The panels are available in clear resin or felted, and mounts can be either permanent or removable. Designed for open-office desk setups, the panels are designed to provide acoustical privacy, while still being able to see colleagues. Humanscale reports “that separation panels can protect employees by decreasing airflow between workstations to reduce airborne transmission of viral particles… and that stiller air can lower infection rates within a given space.” Price reflects the starting cost of a single panel.

$200 at Humanscale

Simplehuman dual sensor trash can


Image: Simplehuman

This 58L dual recycling/trash can operates with voice control (say “open can,” and it will). It will also respond to “stay open,” and won’t close until someone says “close can” or after 10 minutes). Additionally, a motion sensor will respond to a wave of the hand. It also has a liner “pocket,” which both stores (out-of-sight), as well as dispenses the proprietary liner. The can’s steel surface has a fingerprint-proof coating with Agion, an EPA-registered antimicrobial. This dual-compartment option is designed for recycling. Plug-in power adapter is included or takes six AA alkaline batteries. Available in brushed, rose gold, white and black stainless steel (+$10). 

$250 at Simplehuman

Alcove Phonebooth


Image: Alcove

New for 2020, this pod measures 41″ W x 41″ D x 86.5″ H. While its original intention was as an office privacy phone booth, it will meet the requisite requirements for safety and social distancing. It’s also soundproof, echo-free, has casters for easy moving, a steel frame and cladding, an aluminium door, double laminated glass, carpet, an adjustable stool with footrest, a coat hook, AC power, and USB charging outlets, as well as cool white light with constant air circulation.

$4,800 at Alcove

Siemens’ Violet Defense

Violet Defense - UV Disinfection

Violet Defense’s UV disinfection system designed to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.

Image: Violet Defense

Part of the Violet Defense family of UV disinfection products from Siemens, these UV lights provide clinical-level UV disinfection. The system is called the pulsed Xenon solution. The UV lights can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including E. coli, Salmonella, Norovirus, MRSA and more, up to 6.5 feet away. UV tech companies Seoul Viosys and Sensor Electronic Technology announced on April 2 that they were successful in killing 99.9% of coronavirus (COVID-19) in 30 seconds in testing conducted by researchers at Korea University. Violet Defense can provide UV disinfection from above with a high-intensity UV disinfection fixture that can be installed in the ceiling. The price is for the single UV light.

$3,800 at Violet Defense

Truyo’s Janus: The Temperature Self-Check Kiosk


Image: Truyo

Janus offers employers contactless temperature-checking kiosks at office entrances/exits, monitored by a screener. It was designed for companies that are looking to adapt and implement stricter regulation in the office, as well as contactless, social distancing, and wellness check measures. Businesses can comply with new strict wellness checks and social distancing expectations. Janus features: Intuitive customizable user interface design (UI)/user experience design (UX) and customizable screening questions, ID card authentication via drivers license,
employee ID, loyalty card. It provides businesses with an intelligent thermal temperature scan and can be facial recognition capable and is ADA compliant. There are four tiers to choose from, one portal to 20 portals. Starting price is listed.

$3,000 at Truyo

Vioguard Cubby


Image: Vioguard

The Vioguard Cubby can be inserted in the keyboard and plugged into the computer to sanitize a keyboard as well as a mouse. A 360-degree UV-C sanitizing chamber, Vioguard uses UV-C light from all directions and kills greater than 99.99% of HAIs (healthcare-associated infections) in less than a minute. Cubby destroys germs, bacteria, and viruses at the molecular level, the amount required to destroy these infectious agents.  

$600 at Vioguard

Vioguard Defender


Image: Vioguard

The Vioguard Defender is a self-sanitizing ultraviolet (UV-C) keyboard and trackpad with FDA clearance, which uses the germicidal properties of ultraviolet light (UV-C) to disinfect the keyboard and trackpad after each use. Vioguard said the system is 99.99% effective in killing harmful microorganisms within seconds, thus eliminating the need for manual disinfection and disposal of biohazard waste. It self-sanitizes after two, five, or 10 minutes of nonuse, depending on the user’s selection.

$2,000 at Vioguard

MākuSafe armband, wearable technology


Image: MākuSafe

In May, the safety data and analytic company MākuSafe announced it would adapt its existing wearable technology (specifically an armband), developed earlier this year, toward a return to the office. The armband was built to process human motion, environmental, and location data. The features added to adhere to the coronavirus safety regulations include contact tracing reports and worker density mapping. “We were very conscious about adhering to our core standards on worker privacy,” said Gabe Glynn, co-founder and CEO of MākuSafe. Price reflects starting price and per armband.

$22 at MākuSafe

Viper Elevated Body Temperature (EBT) Detection System


image: Viper

Thermal imaging cameras are used as a prescreening device, which identifies the EBT—this may mean the person has a fever, one of the symptoms of COVID-19 (the CDC says 85% hospital admissions for the coronavirus had fevers). The EBT is part of Lenovo’s ThinkIoT. Viper noted: “Thermal imaging cameras measure the radiated infrared energy of an object and convert that mathematically to a temperature based on the radiance of an object being measured. Each pixel on the camera has a calibrated temperature reading. Viper makes clear that while it is not medical grade, it provides early detection of temperatures. The Viper EBT offers real-time identification of fevers/elevated body temperatures, quick and noncontact screening process, can be visual and/or audible alarm, can store temperature data and images. An automated version is also available.

$28,800 at Viper

18 companies now hiring remote workers


Big brands from a wide swath of industries are looking to fill long-term posts, according to Flexjobs.com.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Unemployment remains high as Americans emerge from the pandemic-driven lockdown, but 18 well-known companies that made the switch to telecommuting are currently hiring for long-term remote work, according to Flexjobs.com. 

This is welcome news: Working remotely is not only safer from COVID-19, it’s very popular, especially among those who had the opportunity to work from home (WFH), after fears of the spread of COVID-19 shifted the way many Americans work. 

Some companies that have made the complete shift to remote work are hiring now, and it means a job with a recognizable company name. And there’s a wide swath of industries, too, including big tech, credit card or affiliated companies, real estate, social media, sales, higher education, research and advisory, social and viewing management, software, family history research, and an online retailer, Flexjobs.com said. 

SEE: Life after lockdown: Your office job will never be the same–here’s what to expect (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

Find open WFH technology positions at the following companies:

  1. Adobe

  2. Amazon

  3. Ancestry.com

  4. Capital One

  5. Coinbase

  6. Gartner

  7. Lambda School

  8. Mastercard

  9. Microsoft

  10. Nationwide Insurance

  11. Nielsen

  12. Salesforce

  13. Shopify

  14. Slack

  15. Square

  16. Twitter

  17. Upwork

  18. Zillow 

Flexjobs.com reports that “many companies are now figuring out that working remotely is the future of work, pandemic or not.” Companies in which some staff already WFH, (if not full-time, then a hybrid of WFH and in-office) made an easier transition than those whose employees worked only or primarily in the office. 

Once the WFH system was in place, companies discovered that remote work facilitates increased productivity, a better work-life balance and collaboration among colleagues. 

The cost of working from home

Even though it might cost about an additional $108 monthly, 35% of Americans working from home prefer not to return to the office yet, according to a CreditCards.com survey. Sheltering-at-home has changed many lifestyles, as people spent $182 more on groceries, $121 more on utilities, but they’re saving on child care, gas and public transportation, restaurants and takeouts, and clothes and dry cleaning, the survey found.

More than three-quarters of those polled (2,768 adults who have, or are currently, WFH) by CreditCards.com want to continue to WFH for “at least two days per week,” and that includes the 35% who want to telecommute full-time.

Meanwhile, 21% said they wanted to WFH “most of the time, and 26% said they would “some of the time.” Other poll numbers were considerably lower: 7% wanted to WFH once-a-week, 6% said less than once weekly, and only 4% said they never wanted to work from home again. 

A Global Workplace Analytics survey of 3,000 employees found that 72% of telecommuters say they have the resources to be successful and home, and that they’re most successful, when armed with tools, skills, resources and a nice place to work at home.

SEE: COVID-19: A guide and checklist for restarting your business (TechRepublic Premium)

The 77%

  • 77% of respondents feel fully productive WFH

  • 77% gain back more than a half-hour from unwanted interruptions

  • 77% are satisfied with the flexibility they’re afforded (69% are satisfied with their well-being)

A study by Life360 revealed that instead of driving each other crazy, families “haven’t minded the coziness” of close quarters, further fueling the interest in remote work. 

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