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Applying Transformative Technology to Return to Work Safely

Newlab member companies rely on our advanced prototyping facilities to build everything from 3D-printed rocket engines to smart indoor farms. For them

August 19, 2020

Applying Transformative Technology to Return to Work Safely

Newlab member companies rely on our advanced prototyping facilities to build everything from 3D-printed rocket engines to smart indoor farms. For them, working from home hasn’t been an option.

Newlab prototyping lab.

In response to workplace safety challenges posed by COVID-19, and to empower our 160+ Newlab member companies to continue growing their companies and solve systemic challenges, Newlab launched the Return to Work Studio in May 2020. We have combined technology solutions from member companies with enhanced safety measures and strategies to ensure uninterrupted access to Newlab.

Five ways Newlab has used protocols and transformative technology to keep our community of 800+ experts and innovators working safely

1. Input from founders and open communication

Gathering feedback in the early stages of the pandemic generated trust, uncovered unknown needs, and increased the adoption of new protocols. We sought input on an initial full-scale return to work blueprint from all 160+ founders in our community, our staff, and city and state officials. We shared information about building occupancy levels and around infection mitigation plans in the event of a positive case. As a result, we’ve seen daily occupancy steadily rise to near pre-COVID-19 levels.

2. Contactless screenings and density monitoring

Newlab utilized member company Norbert Health‘s sensors for contactless temperature screening and density monitoring. By using a contactless sensor at the front entrance, the wait time decreased by 60%. The sensors also allowed for monitoring of areas that pose higher risks when densely occupied, such as restrooms, without infringing on members’ privacy.

Newlab Return to Work questionairre
Norbert Health temperature check
Newlab Return to Work questionairre
Norbert Health temperature check
Newlab Return to Work questionairre

3. Proximity management

At Newlab, every person is required to wear a face-covering and maintain six feet of distance from one another. In addition to clear signage and reconfigured workspaces to ensure proper spacing between seats, we created new ways to help our community understand when they are not adhering to social distance protocols. Newlab members are encouraged to wear a StrongArm Technologies FUSE proximity sensor. The device emits visual and haptic feedback when two or more persons come closer than six feet from each other, prompting self-corrective action that helps to lower the risk of infection.

Since the pilot’s launch, there has been a 92% decrease in the number of unique interactions and a 63% decrease in the average interaction duration.

4. Advanced air quality control, cleaning, and disinfecting

Newlab has increased our HVAC systems’ service frequency, allowed for more fresh air intake, and has plans to make engineering improvements, including upgrading to filters capable of absorbing bacterial and viral particles and using UV lighting and ionizers. Our team is equipped with training, support, materials, and checklists to keep track of completed disinfections. Also, high-touch areas have clear signage indicating the frequency of cleaning and disinfection.

5. Infection mitigation plan and contact tracing

At Newlab, building access is restricted for 14 days for any community member with symptoms, those who report a positive test or have come into close contact with an individual testing positive, or those who have recently traveled to states listed on New York’s travel advisory. If there’s a known infection, reports generated by StrongArm Technologies allow us to quickly identify anyone who came within six feet of the individual who tested positive and inform potentially-exposed community members.

Newlab return to work disinfecting signage
Newlab return to work disinfecting signage

The road ahead

The Newlab community continues to grow and thrive amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The Newlab community has increased by approximately 17% since March 2020. We are committed to creating a collaborative, inspiring, and safe place for our members to solve the world’s biggest problems using transformative technology.