The Covid-19 “back to work” conundrum: returning to normal operations while keeping employees safe

As the Covid-19 storm of the past few months starts to slowly dissipate, a new reality is sinking in. Clearly, society cannot go back to the exact “normal” status of pre-Covid. Still months away from a generally available cure and perhaps years away from a widely available and effective vaccine, we are all making adjustments to “living with the virus” for the foreseeable future. At the epicenter of this reality is a question that all business leaders are grappling with. How to get employees back to work safely? And more importantly, how to maintain a safe working environment for the longer run that enables a “close to normal” business operations status and instills a secure feeling amongst


One of the main lessons learned from the past three months has been the widespread recognition of the continued importance of technology to our ability to maintain our daily routines. From the apps that help us order food and groceries while quarantined at home, through the rising popularity of tele-medicine and the meteoric rise of Zoom Communications that keeps us connected while we can’t meet face to face – these are just a few examples of technology’s essential role in our business and society continuity.

In the life science industry, technology has traditionally ranked as a key business enabler and a top priority for companies. Recognizing not only the importance but also the enablement to move forward towards commercialization of products and services in an efficient, compliant and scalable way. The minority who were still on the fence regarding the importance of technology have been pushed over by the aftermath of Covid.

There are currently many organizations offering solutions and models that enable the safe return of employees to their work sites, offices and other activities. Existing cloud solutions for life science organizations and other regulated industries have proven to be critical to business continuity during the recent working from home and quarantine phase, essentially minimizing business disruption to a minimum. Some of the key benefits of having these systems in place included for example:

  • Ability to continue product development activities (team collaboration and sharing online)

  • Creating documentation and management of electronic forms (no need to physically scan or email or fax and content – it’s just accessible electronically 24/7)

  • Conducting training activities (read and understand and even virtual training)

  • Managing all aspects of suppliers anywhere they are (new and existing)

  • Remote auditing (show me your site via your phone or a “google-glass” like hardware

  • Continuing to provide customer support (virtual contact center and support desks)

So how do these cloud-based solutions play a critical role in the back-to-work challenge? Compliance, quality management and safety solutions play a very important role in addressing this difficulty and continue to play a vital role during the “reopening” phase we are in. Some of the major hurdles these solutions help remove include but are not limited to:

  1. Tracking of employee health via forms, questionnaires and surveys and extracting the necessary data in real-time to enable real-time decisions around work environment safety and hazards. Some systems support easy to use and fast form-builder functionality which is a tool that enables the creation of any type and number of forms to support business needs in real-time. Tracking employee temperature against acceptable tolerance levels becomes easy and electronically supported.

  2. Continuing remote audits, inspections and suppliers management activities. Many of these activities could continue to be conducted remotely leveraging technological solutions for the foreseeable future while achieving similar if not the same results without having to go onsite. These are also acceptable means by the regulatory governing bodies. Limiting employee travel and exposure by continuing remote activities supported by the cloud solution(s) is critical to reducing exposure and subsequent risk of getting infected.

  3. Managing training activities via electronic systems is an efficient and safe way to ensure employees are up to speed and certified to perform their jobs. Virtual classroom training addresses the risk involved with gathering employees in a classroom setting while achieving the same expected results.

  4. Providing ongoing customer support via “virtual contact centers”. A common trend even prior to Covid, virtual support desks continue to provide uninterrupted service at the highest levels protecting employees with minimal investment in technology tools. Customer complaints continue to be handled with rigor and according to defined regulations.

  5. Managing events of any type remotely. Management reviews, projects and program management could all be conducted efficiently and effectively via the support of solutions such as a quality and compliance system without the need to meet face to face. These cloud solutions track activities and provide real-time visibility into events, records and documentation essentially digitizing boardroom processes.

Technology will continue to play a vital role in 2020 and beyond and likely expedite digital transformation activities as more and more companies realize the importance during this pandemic era. Companies who do not invest in enabling technologies will continue to struggle with performing many activities which ultimately impact their overall business. Going back to work and maintaining a safe and secure environment for employees can be definitely be achieved by continuing to leverage systems that minimize physical interactions when those are not necessarily needed.

At Dot Compliance we remain focused on providing the support our customers and life science community need at these challenging times to ensure business continuity and the safe return of employees to their work environments. Our goal is to empower life science organizations with the quality and compliance tools they need at any given time. For more information please visit: or email us at: