As the world waits to take its first steps back to work, contact tracing can pave the way for businesses to open up safely following the COVID-19 crisis.
Last week, Apple and Google announced they were working together to build a contact tracing app to help curb the spread of COVID-19. While it may be some time before they’re ready to launch, we’ve already built an open-source solution you can start implementing yourself—without inviting big tech into your office.
Companies may have to wait for the government for permission to open up their offices, but they’re not likely to get much guidance on how.
On one hand, workplaces are potential hotbeds for future outbreaks, with extended hours in close quarters. But they’re also contained environments with limited inputs, so local solutions that would never work on a larger scale might have a real impact in containing and preventing an outbreak.
By having a plan in place before anyone steps foot back in the office, your business can keep people safe instead of being left guessing or hoping for the best.
As countries successful in fighting COVID-19 have discovered, you can minimize spread by “tracing” anyone an infected person was in contact with while they were contagious. Contact is usually defined by being less than 6 feet from someone for more than 15 minutes.
Early studies suggest that with contact tracing, “fewer than 1 in 5 cases will generate any subsequent untraced cases.”
Unfortunately, relying on people’s memories and self-reporting to trace contact isn’t likely to get you very far. Technology and device data carry valuable information. But how do you access and use that information in a way that keeps people safe and doesn’t violate trust? Enter: OpenTrace.
OpenTrace is an open-source Workforce Protection Solution available for free on GitHub that makes contact tracing possible by turning your employees’ phones into passive health monitoring devices. Thanks to Bluetooth, no one has to remember who they were in a meeting with earlier this week—the app securely logs that data in case it’s needed in the future.
OpenTrace allows employees to report their symptoms daily and couples it with contact data. If an employee updates their status as having tested positive, other employees who’ve had contact with them are notified that they may have been exposed.
By putting the control of self-reporting in each employee’s palm, a team mindset emerges where everyone is looking out for their coworkers in a new way. OpenTrace empowers your team to work together to report openly and honestly to control outbreaks—all while maintaining a sense of group trust.
OpenTrace can integrate with the apps you already use, like Workday and PeopleSoft, so there is no complicated new technology to learn. After all, this only works if it’s in place from Day One.
OpenTrace can be deployed before you get your teams back to work and will continue to help track the spread of diseases far into the future. It helps your employees feel confident you’re putting their safety and wellness first before going back to work. It’s a win for everyone.
At Kunai, we are mobilized to help businesses overcome any challenge they may face, even when that challenge is nearly invisible. We’re here to help make the process of getting your business back on track painless. Whether it’s integrating OpenTrace or helping with staff reinforcements to keep essential operations afloat, we’re ready to help beat this thing together.
Check out ways Kunai can help during uncertain times:
Sandeep: Tell me a bit about the early part of your career.
Tom: I spent a decade helping to build start-ups focused on application and database software. This was where I learned how to sell and do business development. I was fortunate to be part of one company going public and another being sold to IBM.
Sandeep: What is something you learned during this time that helped you with consulting?
Tom: I began to appreciate how different customers achieved varying levels of success with the same foundational technology. This made me understand just how critical getting your team and process right can be.
Sandeep: This is something I only came to appreciate years into consulting, especially after the sale of my first consultancy to Capital One.I saw teams in different parts of the company trying to solve challenges like real-time messaging. Same corporate culture, same technology, same internal support mechanisms. Night and day outcomes.
Tom: We saw a lot of the same thing after selling our practice to EMC (sold to Dell in 2015). This is probably the thing I'm most proud of when it comes to the teams I've helped to build: the ability to perform well in a variety of contexts, sometimes in ways that inspires the client team to up their game as well.
Sandeep: Yes. It's particularly cool to see your team succeed in individual ways after an acquisition...consulting skills definitely translate into the corporate environment.
Tom: Totally. We have people who've stayed on at Dell and risen up the ranks, while others took the opportunity to become successful executives at other Fortune 100 companies....or to start their own agencies and startups.
Sandeep: We've both been around a while. My first consulting project was a Y2K thing for Cisco back in 1998. You've been around a little longer than that :). How do you think consulting has changed most during the past five years?
Tom: I think because there is so much infrastructure available now, consulting has become more delivery and outcome-oriented. A better blend of strategic and tactical. Public Cloud has also enabled velocity to increase at a pace unfathomable 5 years ago.
Sandeep: What has stayed the same?
Tom: It's still mostly about people. People who thrive on change and are focused on their personal and professional development. I love that this has not and will not change...it's what I love about consulting.
Sandeep: I know you're adjusting your work style to COVID. You're still a dude who clearly prefers to drive an hour for a socially-distanced hike or outdoor meeting over Zoom any day of the week :) But personal styles aside, what is specifically compelling about a remote agency during the era of COVID?
Tom: Kunai has been remote for years, which gives them an inherent advantage. There is something about the communication and management styles that just works in a way that other organizations are still figuring out.
Sandeep: Yeah, I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that remote work isn't just office work over Zoom. it's an entirely new paradigm. There needs to be an understanding for asynchronous efficiency...and this just takes time and effort to develop. How do you approach remote work and family? What are you learning about separating work and personal time?
Tom: No matter what the form of interaction, Focus. Be present. Quality over quantity. The best weeks are the weeks where I proactively schedule work and personal time. Neil (Kunai's Head of Delivery) shared a great quote with me "With discipline comes freedom." When I am proactively addressing the majority of my professional and personal commitments, I find I earn a little flexibility. A little freedom.
Sandeep: Tell us about a business hero of yours that I may not have heard of before.
Tom: Paul O'Neill is someone you may not know. His work in both the public and the private sector created a profound impact
Sandeep: We are both over forty years old :). How have you learned how to work smarter during the past decade or so? What do you wish you knew about consulting when you were 25 that you know now?
Tom: Consultants want to make lasting change. Lasting change is often not the act of a single person. Today I work much harder bringing others along on the journey.
Sandeep: Last question. What are you doing here? :) Why join a small consulting company this late in your career when you could have a cushy job somewhere else?
Tom: I love a good challenge personally and professionally. When I turned 40, I decided I would run a 10K every Thanksgiving weekend and try to have my finishing time be less than my age. With the exception of one year where I did not run due to a health issue, I have met the goal. I also recently completed the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race. So, I guess I'm here because I'm a glutton for punishment :) Jokes aside, our customers have a job to do and I intend to put Kunai in a position to execute flawlessly on their behalf. I love committing jointly to audacious goals for our customers and our business.
When I’m not building fintech solutions at Kunai, I’m often engaged in other types of creative problem solving in my free time. One great example of this is my years-long endeavor to create a simple computerized clone of an old Hasbro board game.
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