Back to the future: IBM launches Watson Works to help offices reopen

A lot has been written about the challenges companies and IT admins face to serve a remote workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. But there’s another reality: Offices are reopening as governments and employers feel more secure in their control of the pandemic. Offices in Manhattan, one of the hardest-hit areas by the COVID-19 pandemic, began reopening late last month, joining office buildings in other parts of the world that have allowed employees to return. Are you prepared for the challenges of workplace reentry as employees return to their desks?

With this in mind, IBM has announced the launch of Watson Works, a set of products that leverage the tech giant’s Watson artificial intelligence applications. IBM says Watson Works, which is aimed at larger enterprises, “provides data-driven insights to help employers make informed decisions on workplace reentry, facilities management, space allocation, and other COVID-related priorities.”

IBM-Watson-Works offices reopen
IBM

Among the features and insights Watson Works can deliver:

Social distancing advice: Watson Works will collect and analyze data from existing WiFi, security cameras, and smartphones to ensure proper social distancing, enforce mask-wearing mandates, and designate “no-go zones” that are being cleaned. IBM says the data will be collected “in a way that is designed to preserve employees’ privacy.”

Employee health decisions: Watson Works will crunch an array of data, including local infection rates and regulations and health information on employees, giving companies insight on when it is safe for employees to return — or if it’s time to lock down the office again.

Advanced communication: Employees or visiting vendors shouldn’t spend time worrying about whether your safety measures are effective. Watson Works can set up procedures where general questions about COVID-19 or specific questions for human resources can be answered quickly. Employees can also get information about when they should report for work to avoid overcrowding in the office or building.

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