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6 Criteria for Choosing a COVID Workplace Application

Josh Seeman, Senior Director, Financial Services Solutions
June 12, 2020

The job of HR leaders has never been more complicated. They're faced with constant questions from employees and executives alike. Compliance regulations change weekly, if not daily. And above it all, safety (for employees, their families, and everyone else touched by COVID-19 at the company) is their number one priority.

Even as the COVID-19 situation keeps evolving, companies are starting to plan for employees to return to on-site work. These transitions will be complex. Organizations need to consider health and risk screenings for every employee, whether some jobs can continue to be done remotely, corporate policies, and a number of national and regional regulations. It's even more challenging for companies with locations across different states and companies, hundreds or even thousands of employees, and dozens of existing systems and processes.

HR leaders are already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as they make reentry plans to get back to the workplace, they need to find new ways to reduce risk, automate processes, adapt quickly, and above all, keep employees safe. Excel just isn't going to cut it. That's why many organizations are turning to coronavirus employee tracking solutions that help ensure safe, efficient returns to the workplace.

Unfortunately, there's no time for your usual product selection process under the COVID-19 circumstances.

"The choice of platform is less important than acting now," writes Forrester in a recent report, COVID-19 Remote Work Just Broke Your Processes: Here's What to Do About It. "You don't have time for a normal product-vetting process."

If you can't go through a normal process to gather requirements and vet solutions, what can you do? Keep these six requirements in mind when looking for a coronavirus response management application.

1. Rapid time to value

Any successful coronavirus management application needs to launch in a matter of hours, not days. Watch out for solutions that need to be highly customized by IT or have long integration times. "Enlist the active involvement of business experts," suggests Forrester. "Choose a platform accessible to business experts rather than tech experts."

If your application allows front-end configuration, business users will be able to set up the application on their own without waiting for your developers or IT to fit it in their queue. Look for a solution that lets you add your company logo, integrate your brand colors, and customize the questions and business logic behind the scenes all on your own.

Another way to shorten the time to value? Find a solution with a built-in COVID workplace questionnaire that covers a variety of use cases out of the box. Of course you have to be able to configure the questions and logic (more on that below), but having a built-in questionnaire will save you valuable time.

2. Automation capabilities to make your job easier

First and foremost, your response management solution should lighten the load of your HR team. Look for a COVID app for employees that has robust automation capabilities. It should automatically prompt employees to update their information, so HR can spend time on other important matters and employees aren't annoyed by constant check-ins.

Also look for strong dashboard and reporting capabilities. You should be able to filter by location and see at a glance who has tested positive, which employees are ready to come back, who is happy (and productive) to work virtually, who has at-risk family members at home, and more.

3. Built-in incident management

Also consider what happens when employees log an incident such as a positive coronavirus test from the application. You should be able to quickly triage those requests, see all the information you need about the incident, and act on it immediately. Incident management also helps with basic contact tracing in the workplace, since you can monitor incidents and add other people involved as needed.

4. Complete configuration

Every location, facility, and department will have its own unique requirements. Make sure the business users who manage your COVID workplace app can configure every aspect of the health questionnaire and business logic.

Look for granular control over what questions employees in different facilities, departments, and countries see. Location in particular might determine whether a question should be required, or if it should even be asked at all. Business users should also be able to easily set up cascading questions.

5. Secure and compliant

Never forget that you're handling personal information from employees, including health records. At a minimum, any solution you use needs to be HIPAA compliant. But don't stop there.

The granular level of configuration I mentioned above also helps you adhere to local and national COVID compliance requirements. Should US-based employees receive different questions compared to Europe-based employees, so you maintain GDPR compliance? Is one of your offices in a state that has specific guidelines that make sure employees know everything they submit is private? Everyone managing your COVID workplace application needs to be able to configure it to meet these requirements.

6. Transparent pricing

As Forrester notes in its report: "Don't look back; this is the new normal."

While I truly hope a coronavirus tracking app will only be needed for a few months, you may face COVID-related workplace challenges for a while. The last thing you need are hidden fees or a pricing structure that won't scale with you down the road. Look for an application with simple, transparent, fixed pricing. You have plenty of challenges to overcome. Don't let your coronavirus response application become another one.