A recent Future Forum survey in January of this year found that 58% of knowledge workers already follow a hybrid work pattern: “Flexibility is the expectation — and increasingly the norm,” the report concludes. Further growth in flexible working is a certainty. According to Assa Abloy, these changing work patterns make flexibility in security ever more critical, and choosing the right access control solution will make a big difference.

Office-based working, telecommuting, work-from-home (WFH), co-working spaces and hotdesking: All these habits and schedules are now part of the mix, almost everywhere.

As the fixed “working day” declines, people come and go at different times, with changing schedules, irregular patterns and a mix of different places where they work. This presents a challenge which many existing access control systems and workflows were not built to meet. Many of the old certainties are replaced by questions. How can I now ensure the right people — and only the right people — get seamless access when they need? How do I foster a sense of comfort and safety among workplace users — and peace of mind for the facility managers — even as people come and go in less predictable day-to-day patterns?

The role of access control: same demands, new challenges

Access control has always been critical for building security. Changing work patterns, however, mean monitoring and filtering who can go where — and at what times — is becoming even more essential. They ensure staff and visitors move safely and conveniently into and around the workplace. Mechanical lock-and-key security has established centuries of trust. It works. But it is neither flexible nor intelligent enough to meet these new challenges. Electronic access control, on the other hand, has this flexibility. And Assa Abloy maintains that the quickest way to implement it — to enable a fast, efficient move to secure hybrid working — is wirelessly.

The wireless advantage for modern workplaces

The control enabled by wireless, battery-powered door locks managed by intuitive software gives facility managers the power to issue more fine-grained access permissions. Employees, contractors, cleaners, event attendees and visitors can all get the access they need — no more and no less. Credentials may be programmed to unlock doors during specific timeframes, so staff enter only when scheduled, for example. Facility managers can regulate daily access to keep building occupancy within capacity.

Last-minute or emergency changes to access rights are no problem, because credentials have flexibility that mechanical keys do not. With the remote management functionality, office managers can perform any operation remotely, even if they are away from the premises. In case of an emergency, they could lock or open doors remotely, for example. Mobile credentials offer even more, as they can update over the air in an instant, via software which can provide control in real time, from anywhere and around the clock.

“An access system which offers this degree of control, and more, is much easier to adopt than many business owners and managers imagine,” says Mikel Gaztañaga at Assa Abloy Opening Solutions. “It can provide the backbone for more efficient management of people and their security as work becomes more flexible. The right solution should also integrate with important flexible office services like support ticketing, room bookings and more.”

No mains and easy to retrofit

Wireless, battery-powered devices are fast to install and run without any mains connection. They are easy to retrofit without damaging walls and use little energy during use, unlike equivalent wired doors. Their cost-effectiveness enables fitting at many more doors than would be feasible with any alternative solution.

In the co-working sector, flexible access to offices is a priority. For example, the founders of Ulab in Alicante wanted the latest in security, accessibility and design to create their 21st-century business centre. And the flexible and wire-free, Smartair system now gives Ulab real-time access control via credentials which are easy to programme and reprogramme. Ulab managers also chose Openow, the Mobile Key solution for Smartair. It gives workspace residents an option to carry virtual keys on their smartphone, and it is efficient and gives Ulab users and managers even more flexibility.


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