One of the most persistent challenges in frontline organizations is the lack of bidirectional communication between management and frontline workers. While most frontline workers have a mobile device, many don’t have a standardized email address that can be used for work conversations. The result is a traditionally top-down communication channel that relies on posters, paper checklists, and in-person meetings. 

This has always been a point of concern as it can be costly to maintain and inefficient to communicate important updates in real-time. Additionally, it provides no channel by which employees can communicate either vertically or horizontally with the rest of the company. In the age of coronavirus closures and now reopenings, it’s more than an inconvenience – it can significantly impact operations. Let’s take a closer look at why bidirectional communication is needed and how to implement a system for your organization. 

Most Front Line Workers Lack Dedicated Email Addresses

Without a dedicated email address, the only way to update a large and distributed workforce is over the phone, which simply doesn’t scale. Simply establishing bidirectional communication poses a challenge. Companies struggle to provide official updates. Front line workers lack an easy way to ask for direction and support. Wellness updates are even more difficult, and it becomes easy to lose track of workers or their sickness and quarantine times.

Digital Andon Cord works seamlessly on existing mobile devices, without the need for a separate email address that most front line workers do not have. This keeps workers and staff in communication at all times, allowing the sharing of information in real-time, and reducing the risk of messages being missed in the mix.

Device cleanliness is another major issue that can be addressed with a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. This not only ensures germs are spread unnecessarily between users and devices but allows for faster onboarding. Similarly, devices like smart glasses are a major issue due to how difficult they are to clean.

Maintaining Social Distancing Guidelines

To successfully reopen, organizations with frontline workers are required to follow a series of guidelines, including their company playbook, State and Local health department guidelines, and CDC and OSHA guidelines. While much of the guidance is consistent across the three levels of government, it’s a lot to manage and has many organizations implementing new positions and tools. 

A huge challenge in doing this is the lack of bidirectional communication tools. To facilitate social distancing guidelines, meeting rooms, paper checklists, and hands-on training need to be pared back and in some cases removed completely. By leveraging personal electronic devices with applications that support communication between everyone on the frontline, much of this can be alleviated. 

For example, you can guide your front line staff with step-by-step digital checklists to audit, verify, and correct situations remotely with expert support. Using a digital checklist, it’s possible for off-site experts to provide remote guidance and verification via mobile devices.

The Need for Remote Supervision

Working remotely shouldn’t eliminate your ability to keep the business going. Of course, health and well-being must always come first, but in addition to the time it takes to recover, those who are diagnosed with coronavirus may be quarantined for weeks or even months before they can return to work. For supervisors, this means more than a month off the floor. Being able to remotely supervise teams, communicate, coordinate, and follow up is imperative.

Bidirectional communication technology enables remote guidance and supervision without time and space constraints. Using Digital Andon Cord technology to connect supervisors with employees regardless of distance, teams can overcome the challenges of a prolonged quarantine without losing valuable insights needed on the floor. If someone has a question, needed feedback, or is unsure of the directions in a checklist, the andon cord makes it possible to get that information in real-time and continue working without disruption.

Changes Are Constant 

As part of the response to the coronavirus crisis, CDC, OSHA, state and company playbooks are changing rapidly. From week to week and even day to day, regulations and requirements may changes as the situation does in individual states and counties. That kind of rapid change requires the ability to communicate quickly to the entire company and adopt the new protocols as rapidly as possible. The right communications tools are an integral part of doing this. 

Implementing a Bidirectional Communication Solution

To keep employees connected, maintain social distancing, and address issues as they arise, technology is needed to bridge the gap during these challenging times. Andonix provides a suite of tools and solutions designed to Detect, Monitor, and Prevent potential outbreaks in the workplace, while connecting your employees to support their efforts. 

Download our Playbook to Getting Back to Work Safely to learn more. 

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