For a large construction firm such as Suffolk Construction, managing communications between 2,500 office-based and on-site workers is a challenge, even at the best of times. But keeping everyone connected in the midst of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic required the company’s IT team to scramble more than usual.

To keep the business running — and workers safe — Suffolk leaned on its Microsoft Teams deployment. According to Doug Myers, executive vice president and CIO at the Boston-based company, the collaboration platform helped Suffolk’s staff navigate the disruptive effects of the pandemic.

“In the middle of the early days of the pandemic, when situational awareness is a real challenge, we were able to get a Teams channel stood up very quickly where we could get information out to workers,” said Myers. “We recognized early on that we had to change our standard procedures if we were going to keep our workers safe, keep them working and make sure that we could continue to do what we do safely.”

One example: the company created a dedicated Teams channel to collate the results of onsite temperature checks for workers. Seventy thermal imaging cameras were installed and linked to the channel to record the results. “You’re taking hundreds of employee temperatures daily on any given job site as they’re entering,” said Myers. “That was a really great example of something we could develop quickly that was meeting the needs of people in the field.”

Thermal imaging cameras connected to Teams Suffolk Construction

Thermal imaging cameras were connected to a Teams channel to monitor worker health as staff returned to work during the pandemic.

In addition, workers arriving on site can now scan a QR code linked to a Microsoft Form that includes the COVID-19 diagnosis questions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The answers can then be surfaced in a Power BI dashboard for staff to view.

“We want to make sure they can go to work and do [their job],” Myers said. “But the first thing we had to do was make sure that they could do so safely.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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