Work from home (WFH) isn’t right for every employee. Dental hygienists can’t clean teeth remotely. Construction, package deliveries, grocery re-stocking – all done in-person. If students are in the classroom, the teacher has to be there too.
And yet millions of other workers are questioning the need to return full-time to the workplace. Their work tasks adapted well to WFH during the pandemic. They remained highly productive, and after 15 months of WFH, their work/life values and expectations have been reset. CEOs want employees back in the office, but employees are resisting the call.
What experts are calling “the great resignation” is already materializing. Employers whose corporate culture doesn’t value employees are discovering that they cannot fill post-pandemic vacancies. Almost 50% of millennial and Gen Z workers – those with the greatest potential longevity for employers – say they would consider quitting if their employers aren’t flexible about remote work. Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey found that 87% of employees who have been working remotely want to continue working remotely at least one day per week, and preferably more.
Everyone seems to agree that the hybrid office is the best balance between full time remote work and full time office work. 83% of employees say that a hybrid model is optimal, giving them many of the benefits of remote work. In a hybrid office, CEOs who value mentoring and collaboration will get the face time they feel is vital.
But the transition to the hybrid workplace is challenging unless it is facilitated by the right technology. Smart lockers for day use, for example, can be assigned remotely; when contents are placed inside or removed, the usage is recorded for confirmation. Document digitization technology supports the hybrid office by converting paper documents to a digital format accessible from anywhere. Digitization eliminates the security risk of sensitive documents leaving the office for WFH. And digitization reduces the spatial requirements for document storage, saving real estate costs.
The hybrid workplace cuts more than mere real estate costs. It saves hiring costs. The Society for Human Resources Management reports an average cost of $4129 to fill a job vacancy. With so many workers saying they’d rather quit than be in the office full-time, the hybrid office – and the technology to support it – is the best way to retain your valuable employees.
Photo © snowing12 / AdobeStock
Today’s green initiatives of Re-use, Repurpose, Recycle were introduced in the first Earth Day fifty-one years ago. Since then, the concept of sustainability has become part of business decisions large and small, ranging from break room beverage containers to energy sources for operations. Today we’ve become better at finding sustainable solutions, but there’s still room for tomorrow’s improvement.
One way to boost sustainability is with RFID. At the core of RFID is its ability to identify items and track their point-to-point movements. Moreover, that identity and movement data is available in real time, and it’s highly reliable.
Here are two RFID-assisted sustainability solutions, one for today, and one for tomorrow:
- Today – In 2019, researchers learned U.S. hospitals were throwing away as much as $5 billion in outdated medical supplies. No hospital wanted to run out of anything critical, but unreliable manual inventories were leading to over-ordering and waste. Today, many hospital suppliers are now adding RFID tags to their perishable products. Doorway RFID readers update the hospital’s inventory when a fresh shipment arrives from the manufacturer. As items leave the storeroom or pharmacy, the inventory is immediately updated. Timely re-orders mean there are never shortages, and there is no waste of expired supplies. Excess inventory and excess storage space become things of the past.
- If your business manufactures, packages, or uses perishable inventory, RFID will help you reduce waste and expense. Good for the earth, good for your bottom line.
- Tomorrow – A report from Science Advances shows that only 9% of plastics worldwide are recycled currently. Even when consumers are motivated to recycle plastic packaging, they are confused about the types of plastics that can and can’t be recycled. A new generation of RFID tags currently under development will be flexible, sturdy, and low-cost enough to be incorporated into plastic packaging of consumer goods. A phone app will let consumers scan the plastic packaging to identify its recycling status. Taken a step further, consumers can be rewarded for recycling and deposit-and-return schemes. And municipal facilities can scan the RFID tags to further sort and recycle plastics that would otherwise be destined for landfills.
- If your business needs to sort, re-use, or differentiate your disposables, RFID makes it faster, easier, and more accurate. Labor and material costs are reduced. Again, good for the earth, good for your bottom line.
The circular economy is a vital goal that will require innovative thinking at every step. Imaginative uses of mature, proven technology like RFID are a big part of achieving that goal.
Photo © mangostock / AdobeStock
Errors are an unavoidable part of human endeavor. In some situations, errors have a positive side, helping us learn how to do things better. (Ask any sports coach.) But in operational settings, human error is costly.
Paper documents in particular are error magnets. Even when a document’s information is correct in every detail, a misfiled paper document is just as significant an error as a misspelled name or an incorrect date.
And the costs of misfiled or missing paper documents add up.
- Each misfiled document costs $120 in additional labor
- 2-5% of an organization’s documents are misfiled at any given time
- 10-12% of misfiled documents are not located on the first attempt
The costs don’t stop there. Misfiled documents create liabilities. Misfiled medical records can slow down patient treatments, with potentially adverse outcomes. Regulated industries can fall out of compliance due to misfiled or missing documents.
Document digitization solves the problem of misfiled paper documents. Imaged documents are searchable. Any word within a document can be a search term. Even if an imaged document has been incorrectly filed in an electronic file folder, it can be located by searching on key words.
And unlike a manual search in a filing cabinet, a search for an imaged document happens with electronic speed.
Of course, document digitization has other benefits. Imaged documents save space. They are far more secure than easily-destroyed paper. They are accessible to in-house and remote staffers. They contribute to an organization’s sustainability program.
A well-designed digitization program can give your business all of these advantages, while saving the costs of human error. Talk to an experienced digitization consultant and eliminate document filing errors.
Photo © contrastwerkstatt / AdobeStock
Healthcare has been very much on everyone’s mind during this past year and a half of pandemic health concerns. With hospital capacity stretched to the max, hospital managers are eager to find ways to minimize costly equipment and medication losses.
One hospital in Michigan discovered that small but valuable equipment items were being mixed with medical waste, and thrown out in the trash. Usable medical surplus – the result of over-ordering due to inventory uncertainties – is being dumped into landfills every day, according to a report by the National Institutes of Health.
On the pharmaceutical front, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) requires tracking of certain drugs throughout the supply chain, from manufacturer to end user. Protenus reports 18.7 million prescription pills lost from hospitals in the first half of 2018.
Good inventory management is, of course, the way to avoid such equipment and medication losses, and the compliance risks that come with such losses. But hand-counting beds and pills is labor intensive. It takes medical personnel away from their primary mission of healthcare delivery.
RFID solves the inventory problem and the labor problem simultaneously.
The Michigan hospital instituted a multi-year program to add RFID tags to its 12,000 pieces of medical equipment. Now it tracks equipment from deployment for patient usage, to “soiled” rooms for used equipment, through cleaning, and back to readiness for the next patient. The hospital saved an estimated $4,300 almost immediately by retrieving equipment accidentally headed for the trash. And hospital staff is not wasting valuable time searching for missing equipment.
Hospital pharmacies, too, will benefit from RFID implementation. The FDA has instituted a pilot program, Kit Check, including several major medical centers and drug companies. Kit Check tests tracking and system interoperability through the supply chain, starting with the medication manufacturer. RFID readers monitor the movement of medications in and out of the pharmacy. Medication errors are reduced, and pharmacists can easily identify returns and recalls. And the time-consuming manual counts are completely eliminated.
Healthcare RFID is strongly recommended by the experts in Forbes Magazine. With improved equipment and pharmaceutical inventory management, hospitals can get a handle on their costs, pass the savings on to patients, and still improve their profits.
Photo © Karanov images / AdobeStock