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Case Study: Expect the Unexpected - How BlackBerry Has Adapted to Provincial Government COVID-19 Regulations

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented threat landscape.

We are now almost ten months into the global novel coronavirus pandemic, and there is not yet an end in sight. In fact, as we move from fall to winter, many regions are experiencing a second wave. In an effort to help curb the spread of the virus and stave off further lockdowns, regional governments within Ontario and British Columbia are among those that have instituted strict measures around health screening.

Employees in those regions must now complete a COVID-19 questionnaire at the start of each workday or shift before entering the workplace. Employers must also ensure that appropriate records are kept to be able to demonstrate compliance if needed, with the necessary controls in place to ensure the privacy of the data being collected. Although this legislation will no doubt be invaluable in curbing the virus’s spread, it creates several problems of its own.

First is the issue of manpower. As a result of the pandemic, many businesses must now operate with a reduced workforce. This means that there simply aren’t enough people available to spend hours manually sifting through and categorizing paperwork – something which, in larger organizations, is effectively a full-time job. And even for smaller organizations, it’s infeasible given the extra work required to organize, cross-check, and store these documents properly.

Speaking of documents, physical paperwork is fallible. It can easily be misplaced, damaged, or misfiled. Moreover, the mere process of receiving physical documents is itself a potential vector for COVID transmission, to say nothing of the risks involved for anyone monitoring the comings and goings of a workplace.

Ontario is a major market for BlackBerry, home to some of our largest clients and over 1,700 staff. We knew it was imperative that we find an efficient, secure way to comply with the new legislation. We achieved this shortly after the legislation was announced, establishing a secure response and tracking process via the BlackBerry® AtHoc® critical event management platform:

1.      We sent employees a geo-targeted alert through BlackBerry AtHoc outlining provincial regulations and BlackBerry’s internal processes. The COVID-19 workplace health questionnaire was included within this alert.

2.      Employees then acknowledged they understood the provided information in the alert via email or the AtHoc mobile app.

3.      Employee responses were then consolidated into an Excel report by the Operations Center, who were then able to report on response rates via the AtHoc system.

4.      When employees arrive at any BlackBerry facility, they are required to use BlackBerry AtHoc’s Check-In feature on the mobile app, which tracks employee-specific geolocation data to confirm completion of the COVID-19 screening questions.

5.      The check-in notification is then sent to a secure inbox, stored in accordance with BlackBerry’s security and record-retention policies.

6.      Once the employee has checked-in, they swipe into the building through the security system and resume duties as normal.

Our process offers several key advantages over manual tracing:

  • As everything is done via AtHoc, there’s no physical paperwork required, and very little demand in terms of resources.
  • Physical documentation is a potential transmission vector – eliminating it means one less risk to the staff responsible for monitoring COVID-19 status.
  • All data is secured, yet readily accessible for auditing and reporting purposes.
  • All information is transmitted and stored via BlackBerry’s infrastructure, which is trusted by organizations in some of the world’s highest-security industries.
  • The geolocation of the check-in feature enables employers to know which sites their employees are accessing, while at the same time confirming their COVID health status, thereby assisting with contact tracing should the need arise.

In short, through BlackBerry AtHoc we were able to address Ontario and British Columbia government’s new regulations in a way that is efficient, secure, and keeps our employees safe.

That last one is perhaps the most important of all. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that during difficult times, employees want to know that their employers care about their safety and well-being. That leadership is on the pulse of what’s happening and taking every action necessary to protect them.

It’s unclear when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. Many people are still working from home, physically isolated from their colleagues. And as COVID cases continue to rise across North America and the rest of the world, the chance of there being more lockdowns grows increasingly higher.

The only thing that is certain at this point is the responsibility businesses of all sizes bear towards their employees. They must be able to protect them and account for them wherever they happen to be. And they must be able to do so while complying with constantly evolving regulations around the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an atmosphere of apprehension across multiple industries and verticals. People and businesses alike are struggling to strike a delicate balancing act between compliance, safety, and general well-being. The right tools can go a long way towards making this struggle less difficult – towards keeping everyone connected, informed, and out of harm’s way.

Learn more about BlackBerry AtHoc or read more about how BlackBerry is using it to address COVID-19 legislation compliance. You can follow BlackBerry AtHoc on Twitter at @AtHoc.

Laura Beattie

About Laura Beattie

Laura Beattie is the Director of Enterprise Business Continuity Management and Environment Health and Safety at BlackBerry, with global responsibility for ensuring employee safety, environmental protection, and business resiliency during any incident or crisis.