“Agility” has long been a buzzword in the integration market, but the need for NSCA companies to be agile became a lot more urgent when COVID-19 hit in early 2020. Yet, there was no blueprint for how to respond.
Some things were obvious:
- Customers’ needs and priorities would change in a big way
- Getting customers’ employees back to work in offices would require rethinking those spaces
- Most integration companies would need to approach their business, the market, and their customers differently than they did pre-pandemic
Less obvious were the steps integrators would need to take to put themselves in a position to provide great value to their customers—and to succeed. Boston-based Red Thread seemed to take the right steps immediately after the pandemic hit.
“The first thing we did is gather a bunch of influencers in the Boston market,” says John Mitton, CTO and VP of Audiovisual Group for Red Thread. That included VPs of facilities for large corporations, property managers, building owners, and university leaders. “We did a series of roundtables to talk to them about what they see in the near future.”
‘Now, Near, and Far’
Based on those strategic discussions with technology purchasing decision-makers, Red Thread created strategies around three categories:
- “Now”: What types of solutions would Red Thread offer companies that want or need to get back into the workplace ASAP?
- “Near”: In what ways can Red Thread impact existing space by providing technology that supports organizations as they settle into a return to work.
- “Far”: Red Thread realized that many organizations would be indefinitely impacted by the pandemic. “We were starting to see early on that this was going to be a real inflection point in the way that people look at space and technology and how it comes together,” Mitton says.
With that information, “we formed an internal team of cross-functional people — individuals from the [Audiovisual] Group, our furniture group, our architectural products group,” he says.
Red Thread looked at return-to-work across these timespans and sought actionable solutions that can be implemented immediately and over time. The result was an integration company pivoting very quickly to develop several solutions to support a post-COVID-19 workplace, including:
- Workplace Re-Entry Program: This guide for returning to the office was developed to be an end-to-end actionable solution—from conducting a space analysis and modifying work environments to providing solutions that support new safety, communication, and collaboration protocols.
- Safe Workplace Technology Playbook: Red Thread says its new playbook showcases technology an employee interacts with throughout the day to manage a safe and productive work environment. From rapid temperature checks at the door and touch-free collaboration room systems to air purification and occupancy metrics, the playbook provides a set of solutions with budget pricing. Among these featured technologies, the following were developed by Red Thread:
- Rapid Entry, which provides a seamless way to screen temperatures upon entering without long lines or intrusion. It features a specialized thermal camera with calibrator technology integrated into a sturdy and well-designed structure.
- Purify Spaces, (in partnership with Bluezone), which is an air purification system that kills airborne pathogens, including MS2, a SARS-CoV-2 surrogate virus. The germicidal UV light reaction chamber returns pure air to the environment.
- Amplify Teamwork, which provides a flexible way to implement the latest Microsoft or Zoom technology as a service without the need for capital expenditure. Whether you’re working from home or as part of a re-entry back to the office, a high-quality collaborative experience keeps us all connected.
- Workplace Transformation Interactive Budget Tool: Red Thread says this online space visualizer and calculator budget tool allows users to explore three cultural floor plans and view renderings and descriptions of each space application. By selecting product categories (furniture, technology, demountable walls) and fit/finish level, users can determine an estimated budget. The budget can be tailored to a specific number of people or square feet.
As a result of these efforts, NSCA recognized Red Thread with a Stepping Up Award during the 2021 Business & Leadership Conference. It’s a great example of a company recognizing not just the emerging challenges for its customers – but the value that an integrator can provide in helping to overcome them.
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