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As South Africans gear up for level 3 of lockdown, many will return to workplaces that are quite different from what they left behind. For most local businesses, adapting to the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19 risk mitigation will be a significant challenge in the coming weeks and months, as business owners work to find a way to balance the need to re-open with the responsibility of keeping their staff, suppliers and customers safe and healthy.

To help with this, leading independent financial services provider Fedgroup this week announced the launch of a solution to one of the most complex aspects of return-to-work: COVID-19 risk mitigation and regulation compliance, monitoring and reporting. The solution comes in the form of SmartPlexus, an intelligent site monitoring solution that provides a single view of key data within and across multiple business locations, allowing companies to track their efforts across several campuses and cities if needed.

“Bolstered by a 30-year track record in business and our forward-thinking nature, Fedgroup saw a need for a technological solution to support business’ efforts to both minimise the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces, and mitigate the risk a COVID-19 outbreak would have on business operations,” said Grant Field, Chief Executive Officer at Fedgroup.

New Occupational Health & Safety regulations, as issued recently by Government, require businesses to ensure the availability of adequate hand sanitisers, observe social distancing, and monitor those coming and going from the workplace for COVID-19 symptoms. Daily screening questionnaires and temperature checks are also expected to become the norm.

Importantly, businesses also have to accurately record their efforts so as to quickly pick up any changes in employee health or gaps in their procedures, and demonstrate their compliance should regulators inspect the workplace. Fedgroup’s SmartPlexus platform provides ongoing, real-time COVID-19 data collation, screening and monitoring, to ensure full compliance with these new regulations.

The implications of non-compliance are a significant new risk to South African companies – non-compliance means increased risk to the health of employees, guests and customers, as well as potential operational incapacity. In addition, non-compliance, or the inability to effectively document adherence to the regulations, poses the risk of a workplace being forced to cease operations.

“COVID-19 and the subsequent government-mandated lockdown has already had an enormous impact on the way organisations operate, with many businesses being forced into remote working within days of the lockdown being effected. The next significant shift will come as South Africans return to the workplace while the COVID-19 threat remains rife,” said Field.

SmartPlexus is powered by artificial intelligence, and has been built for scalability and integration. It is backed by a secure and adaptable smart engine that turns data into insight, and pushes the boundaries of what visualisation can do. Companies can delve into a world of insights, live feeds, alerts, reports and dashboards to make important decisions regarding their workplace compliance.

“Many business are being forced to adapt fast but are hamstrung by inefficient, decentralised or manual logging and reporting processes, exposing themselves to excess liability. We used our strength and experience in bringing systems, processes and new-age technology together to create SmartPlexus to address this problem, not only in our own business, but in others’ too.”

While the current COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s new workplace requirements are the most immediate application of SmartPlexus, the platform can adapt to any workplace monitoring required, including monitoring water and electricity usage, employee comings-and-goings, maintenance schedules, building health and much more.

“Fedgroup is a technologically-minded company, and our focus is on finding ways that technology can integrate with financial services and business to make things easier, quicker and more relevant to modern day problems,” said Field.

The development of SmartPlexus is the latest evolution in management/monitoring technology, following Fedgroup’s launch of Impact Farming technology in recent years, which matches investors with ‘smart’ farmers, allowing for the real-time monitoring of the crop by farmers and an instantaneous view of their assets by investors.

Impact Farming technology is permanently connected to monitor conditions and not only gives farmers management control, but provide an early warning system to investors and farmers about complications that might affect yields and, in turn, investor returns. The early warnings mean that farm management and investors alike can intervene earlier, better protecting their investments.