A hands-on approach in our social collective fightback against Covid-19
Week 12. My thought for today…
Thankfully, the battle against Covid-19 seems to be gaining traction and the road from my window appears to be getting busier again, the sun is shining, leaves are green and the prospect of returning to the office is looking just that little bit more likely!
When we do return to work, the question I ask myself is when, in what form, and how will that be? I also wonder if we will have to “work as an island” surrounded by the barriers we are encouraged to build in the fight against Covid-19, and whether that would be a healthy and sustainable approach for us? My colleagues are already talking about the effects of isolation on their mental wellbeing and looking forward to the chance to work together in some way.
With all the gains we have collectively made in staying at home, avoiding the unnecessary trips outside, staying alert and staying united in our focus on washing and disinfecting our hands, I do wonder if we are now seeing “caution fatigue”? Today I read an interesting article from CNN news about “caution fatigue” that offered an interesting insight.
Caution fatigue “occurs when people show low motivation or energy to comply with safety guidelines,” said Jacqueline Gollan, who holds two professorships at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine: one in psychiatry and behavioural sciences, and another in obstetrics and gynaecology. It’s reflected when we become impatient with warnings, or we don’t believe the warnings to be real or relevant, or we de-emphasise the actual risk,” she added. “And in doing that, we then bend rules or stop safety behaviours like washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing.”
As architects we spend much of our time both designing and using our built environment. As our eagerness to return to the workplace grows, it now seems to be a very good opportunity to look at space utilisation and social interaction in this emerging age of digital virtual communication. Could we perhaps, as architects and designers, offer a more hands-on and socially beneficial contribution to our collective fightback against Covid-19?
While investigating products that might support our practice’s return to office working, I came across a particularly innovative hand sanitisation device, the Handi totem. I was also reminded of recent work I had been doing with NHS Trusts around digital twin technology, specifically the use of digitally monitored handwashing stations in healthcare environments to improve hand hygiene and control infection spread.
Handi was founded in March 2020 to rapidly mobilise world class health technology to support people and get businesses back on their feet. Their Handi totems can instantly deliver antibacterial liquid to thousands of people using a touchless sensor and have been engineered to deliver hand sanitisation in under three seconds. Moreover, their technology is designed to be placed any location with no mess or spillage and uses IoT/web-connectivity for real-time stock level management and vend tracking. Just as importantly it’s a design-led solution, so it looks good to encourage people to use it! One study showed it was used more than 200% compared to a traditional wall mounted dispenser. As architects we appreciate the value of design and we can expect to see design led solutions to come to the fore. (well something like that?)
It’s digitisation (of a physical asset) opens up a whole world of new opportunities. What if Handi hooks up to an App of some kind, perhaps the Covid-19 App? Would it be possible to harness that technology in a way that might make hand sanitisation more habitual, reassuring, even fun? 8,000 steps on the Fitbit today, and 29 sanitisations on the Handi – High-Five!
Handi was founded on the principle of supporting as many people and businesses as possible through a time of unprecedented crisis. Their corporate objective is to donate 10% of their annual profits to healthcare charities affected by Covid-19. Would it, by hooking up to the Covid-19 or other App, be possible not only to access hand sanitisation, but also to provide financial support to those affected by Covid-19, including NHS front line workers, perhaps?
As we begin to assess the real practicalities of returning to our offices at some point, it seems inevitable that we will need to put in place some key protection measures including social distancing, hygiene, and workplace cleaning. Perhaps devices like these could become beacons of hope and offer some comfort in knowing that as an individual, our staff, our company, our community are all doing their bit for each other and for the wider collective good in trying to kill off this virus. We are looking at this ourselves.