It has been several months since the pandemic broke out, leaving the world grappling with a problem no one saw coming. During this time, TCS has learned to plough through the crisis, creating a productivity framework that would ensure our commitment towards our clients never floundered; at the same time never ever compromising on the safety and well-being of our employees.
The nature of the technology industry is such that data sensitivity is a continual concern. Given this and the fact that the world now has established protocols to adapt to new ways of working, we at TCS have used technology interventions to recreate safe physical workspaces for the under 2% of our employees who have to visit office premises. These employees carry out client-sensitive tasks that require high levels of security that only a physical office environment can offer.
Earlier, we launched a program to ensure business continuity using our Secure Borderless Workspaces™ (SBWS™). SBWS™ is a framework that allows TCS associates working remotely -- on and offshore -- to ensure business continuity. Now, as part of this framework, we also have an extended return-to-work solution. TCS has launched its new AI software, a workplace resilience solution, in three countries - India, USA and Canada – with plans to expand it globally, across all our locations. The software is designed to minimize employee risk to exposure by accounting for a full spectrum of physical operations and activities as these play out in real-time. Our effort meets a dual-edged objective in a work resumption scenario: Zero incidents at the workplace even as we maintain a zero shutdown of office premises.
Advanced video/ image-based analytics, simulation based predictive analytical models, and data pipelines – are being used to mitigate risk of exposure to the Novel Coronavirus. For instance, at every location, the system raises an alert if it observes human crowding or congestion. Other standard risk control protocols include baseline health checks like temperature screening at all entry and exit points and wider community-level checks that involve risk-profiling and contact tracing based on an employee’s GPS location. Furthermore, there is a cap on the number of employees at a given location at a given point in time, and stringent measures to ensure interactions remain contactless.
On arrival at a physical work location, the system captures the employee’s body temperature, and runs a check on every employee, providing a list of customizable detailed reports on their risk profile, the number of people who have reported to work, and their point of origin. It is based on these insights that work schedule and sanitization requirements are planned. Furthermore, geospatial contact tracing mechanisms are also deployed using employees’ cell phones to track whether the regions they travel from, to work and back, are marked safe or not.
With its business command dashboard, the workplace resilience solution improves staff deployment planning as it enables daily risk monitoring and risk prediction via a web-based app.
A what-if scenario modelling to forecast employee risk in terms of ‘carry or contract’ for the next 7, 14, and 21 days using Machine Learning and AI models is a major differentiator that the solution offers. Innovation remains at the very core of the model as it computes health and location-related risk scores for every associate based on specific attributes. This is used to determine who can resume working at a physical space, which in turn facilitates deployment planning. The software generates real-time alerts to follow optimal workplace occupancy, highlights hotspots that can provide alternative people movement flows, and dispel assembly at a given point in time. It also helps contact trace using proximity data extracted from employee mobile devices and badge scanners.
From concept to deployment, the solution was released in just 4 weeks to the first TCS location
Ironically, this entire solution was built in a location-independent agile manner with every team member working remotely. It is an AI-ML-driven application built on three-tier architecture and deployed on cloud infrastructure. It provides analytical insights by consuming Big Data as a result of integrating in-house systems with government, social, and open data sources. Typically, go-live time for an application like this is around two months. In this instance, the entire process was completed in just 35 days, pointing to both workforce and operational agility.
As the dynamics of the COVID situation change every day, what we have learnt is that the only way to tide over such unforeseen scenarios is for businesses to be more agile, adaptable and resilient. Keeping this qualitative metrics in mind, our teams incorporated all business and governance requirements laid down by internal and external agencies to innovate and realize a risk prediction model that would pave the way for Vision 25x25TM in the days to come. The workplace resilience solution provides a near real-time view of risk profiles and we believe, will eventually help us make decisions with precision and granularity.
While the current solution addresses the situation specifically pertaining to COVID, it can be scaled up and customized to manage any future risk involving workplace interaction and human resource deployment.
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