Companies may be reopening nationwide, but it won't be business as usual: They now must contend with in-office social distancing and alternating work schedules, among other health and safety challenges.
Cue the rush of companies building software designed to boost workplace functionality in a post-coronavirus world. These programs reorganize office seating charts, create custom staffing calendars, and track employee health over time. And they've sprung from concept to product in very little time.
Maptician, a three-year-old workspace management software startup based in Alpharetta, Georgia, released its software platform, called Maptician Flex, two weeks ago. The 15-employee company built a similar program pro bono for a homeless shelter in Arlington, Texas--co-founder and COO John Wichmann's sister works for that city's government--before deciding in early April to create a version for businesses.
The Flex software analyzes floor plans and seating charts for risks around employee desks and in conference rooms, break rooms, and walkways. It also suggests options for staggering employee schedules based on where each worker sits and capacity restrictions, and has a built-in contact tracing system to help identify staffers who might be in danger should a colleague get sick.
Flex's cost depends on employee head count: $110 per month for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, $135 per month for businesses with 100 to 125 workers, and a per-employee price that further drops as head count increases. Wichmann says the model's simplicity is a selling point, which matters because competition has rapidly arrived from larger competitors.
Like Flex, design firm Gensler's product, called ReRun, analyzes workplace layouts to suggest reorganization plans, but also includes personalized advice from a human design expert. Salesforce's Work.com platform, set to launch within the next month, will include a contact tracing system, a shift management algorithm, and a dashboard for local Covid-19-related data and government guidance. The company is creating the product with open-architecture coding, allowing any developer to build new features and submit them to a marketplace for users to download.
ReRun's custom pricing depends on the size of the floor plan and the work of the human designers, according to Gensler design principal Natalie Engels. Salesforce hasn't released pricing for Work.com yet, but executive vice president Bill Patterson says he hopes to make it accessible for companies of all sizes.
All of these companies say that since they've announced their platforms, interest from 50-person startups and global conglomerates alike has been overwhelming. Engels says at least 200 companies are either waiting in line or already using ReRun.
Wichmann says Maptician has gotten interest from all 12 of its clients, as well as receiving 20 demo requests from potential new customers--five times as many as the startup got for its first product launch last year. That's despite the fact, he adds, that most businesses he's spoken with are taking slow approaches to reopening.
"They're going to allow any employee who feels most comfortable remaining in a remote environment to do so, no questions asked." he says. "But if you want to come back? They want to provide a managed, safe way to do that."