An app formally launched yesterday (8 June) by Fliplet thanks to global demand among its law firm clients enables office managers to monitor and control staff levels and movement to facilitate a return to work post-COVID-19.

The Return to Office app is designed with the input of around 25 law firms many of which independently approached Fliplet to help them build the app as firms work out how to safely bring staff back to the office in light of social distancing and other health and safety requirements.

Key features of the app include the ability to book space in a way that makes it possible to easily cap numbers by floor or zone. Staff are able to book space on a certain floor, with the number of people able to be on that floor capped. When entering the office they will need to scan a QR code and so the same again when entering the eg second floor. An office manager will be able to see that if there were 40 spaces, there are now only 39. Some firms are planning to take this one step further by creating zones or even sub-zones.

Monitoring staff is key because in the event that someone does contract the coronavirus, firms will need to show who they came into contact with so that those people can self-isolate.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Fliplet’s commercial director Mike Gallop said: “There’s lots of tech that allows you to book space but it’s hard to really understand how many people are in the office at one time unless you check in and out using a QR code so that the office manager can manage it in the real-time.”

He adds: “The other thing that people are really excited about is the staff status functionality of our app. Every employee can set their status for the week. So if I sit next to you it’s really easy to see you’re in Monday, so I’ll go in Tuesday.”

With many firms looking to downsize their real estate and turn to a hot desking model, the app is likely to have long term value.

While there are long established hot desking tools on the market, Gallop says: “The difference is that this one tool does lots of things and you don’t have to go to a website to book – you don’t need to log on via VPN and get to a SharePoint page and then if your child is ill go back and do it all again. It’s all on my phone and it’s easy.”

The app is also set up to send push emails and SMS, which will help if coronavirus related alerts become necessary.