As we reflect on the transformative year that was 2023 when it comes to working, it becomes evident the return to the office focus has become stronger than ever, ushering in a new era for building design.
Howard Lang, President of Gunnebo Entrance Control, assesses the current outlook for hybrid working and the changing demands placed on businesses, employees, visitors and managers, highlighting the implications for entrance control and security.
Since the pandemic ended, the workforce has watched and wondered: Will we return to the office and work like we did in 2019? Or will the great global remote work experiment stick? Will Teams and Zoom continue or will face-to-face meetings make a rapid return?
Media headlines have long juxtaposed these outcomes and highlighted a power struggle between employees wanting to work remotely or continue traditional meeting requirements and employers wanting them to return to the office.
Many employers have explored what a happy medium may look like for their organisation. They have experimented and asked genuine questions on “remote-capable jobs’ that can be done at least partly from home, to show genuine care for creating a work-life balance.
The latest findings suggest that 61% of employers now offer hybrid working, and yet more professionals are now working exclusively in an office setting (43%) than those who say they are taking advantage of the flexibility (39%).
To put this in perspective, as of May 2023, 39% of workers in the UK had worked from home at some point in the previous 7 days. 73% of British workers said they had travelled to work in the last week.
These work trends illustrate how the modern workplace has transformed. Where, when and how people work all look very different today compared with a few years ago. The home and office work-life balance is evolving and is set against a difficult economic environment.
Balancing Act: The New Dynamics of Office Design
Faced with rising costs, talent attraction, rise in crime and retention concerns, employers are navigating the delicate ways of making offices more enticing while offering the necessary peace for focused work and offering home alternatives when this is not an option.
It’s a fluid experience, and it’s clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to how staff want to work and how flexible employers are willing to be. One thing is for sure, the rigid and strict, office-based 9-to-5 workweek has become a thing of the past.
If employers are asking staff back to the office more – they need to question if they are doing it for the right reasons such as facilitating more team-building opportunities and offering an enticing work environment.
The concept of ‘office design’ has transcended its traditional meaning, and become more of a hub for collaboration, idea sharing and socialisation. The ideals of hot-desking, community areas, central meeting points and interactive displays for collaborative communications have all been embraced to support various work styles.
We have seen record growth in serviced office use with flexible layouts, reflecting a shift toward activity-based working and tackling the home working feelings of isolation. This approach again optimises space according to employee needs, and well-being and promotes efficiency and a dynamic work environment.
The balance combines to show how employees and employers are establishing a middle ground in hybrid work that appears to be working well when managed effectively. A work arrangement arguably that would have been questioned more before the pandemic. Leaders of large companies have confirmed that hybrid work flexibility is here to stay in their organisations.
Adapting to Change: Space Utilisation and Security
Enhancing space utilisation may be the prerequisite to increased productivity in a hybrid world. There is also the additional question of security, ensuring an office environment is fire-safe and secure first, despite the differentiation in working hours and visitor attendance in the new dynamic world of working.
The addition of the need to consider vacant office space likewise brings several security challenges, including loss prevention and risk management, alongside arson, theft and vandalism.
This all starts with recognising that security risks extend beyond the front door, and modern offices must prioritise perimeter protection. In urban settings where expansive physical barriers may not be feasible, intelligent perimeter security systems with smart sensors, video analytics, and visual verification become essential.
These solutions enable proactive monitoring and quick responses to potential threats, setting the stage for a secure and inclusive office environment.
Moving inward, the focus shifts to entrance control technology that seamlessly blends security with aesthetics. Offices aim to create welcoming environments for visitors while ensuring the safety and well-being of employees.
Any entrance control must also manage access and look to prevent physical security threats, including piggybacking and tailgating, alongside wrong-way access and intrusion.
Flexible hours demand 24/7 access opportunities, requiring security measures to provide visual verification and access control over extended periods. Multi-tenant buildings, another emerging trend, require shared access management between co-existing companies, emphasising the need for adaptable entrance control solutions.
Entrance control solutions can be tailored to grant access based on specific criteria, ensuring a secure yet flexible working environment. Integrated visitor management systems streamline the entry process, enhancing the overall visitor experience.
The adaptability of entrance control solutions allows them to be configured to suit the bespoke needs of each organisation, from start-ups to large enterprises with multiple locations.
The success of a security plan lies in its adaptability and ability to evolve with the growth and changes of sites. Integrating physical and digital entrance and access control measures is crucial for limiting entry to authorised personnel.
Shaping the Future with Latest Technology
Office managers leveraging intelligent security gain valuable data insights into people flow and access trends. These insights empower organisations to grow, evolve, and optimise office layouts based on informed and statistical decisions. The security measures in place can adapt, scale and ensure they evolve with the company.
Touchless access control systems add an extra layer of security by tracking entry and exit without physical contact, reducing the likelihood of loss or cloning.
The value of entrance control based on mobile credentials goes beyond security; it instils confidence in employees with a seamless, efficient operation tailored to individual requirements. A secure workplace instils confidence and makes employees feel safe, preserving one of the organisation’s most significant assets.
Security and Design in Unison
Gunnebo Entrance Control has recently been involved with Microsoft’s Danish headquarters. With 900 employees, the offices are built for flexibility, with fewer desks but plenty of meeting rooms and communal areas. The goal is to encourage collaboration and sharing of ideas.
The entrance to Microsoft’s Danish head office is in a large open-plan dining
area with a public coffee shop and staircases leading to the floors above. An
effective entrance solution was crucial to ensure non-public zones remained secure and accessible only to those with authorised access.
In addition, the solution had to be discreet and in keeping with the overall open and airy architectural design of the building.
Gunnebo provided a solution that fulfilled the requirements of both a security
Employees can now pass through Gunnebo SpeedStiles. The speed gates open and close quickly, quietly and efficiently to ensure a smooth flow of people, even at the busiest times. On Microsoft’s request, the SpeedStiles require identification on the way in, but allow free passage on the way out.
For large packages or deliveries on pallets which go to the canteen, Gunnebo has installed an alternative entrance solution – a double-door GlasStile mounted on rotating columns.
Around the reception area, Microsoft also asked Gunnebo to install a series of
glass panel barriers to prevent visitors from bypassing the SpeedStile entrance gate to
get to the stairs.
The results demonstrate how simple enhancements to entrance control can make a significant difference. Employees, guests and goods move smoothly through the entrance systems hassle-free and without the formation of queues.
The slim speed gates have proven ideal for staff and guests alike. For the client,
it is an entrance control solution which meets both its security and design
The Future Hybrid Office
‘Office design’ no longer refers to a workspace’s functional and decorative elements – such as furniture and equipment. It considers the overall office experience, the well-being of those who use the space, sustainability and the level of collaboration businesses hope to encourage.
Entrance control is the same. Any security measures must be installed to blend and enhance the welcoming environments for visitors while ensuring the safety and well-being of employees. They should add to the overall look and feel of a reception area, not detract from it.
Gunnebo Entrance Control, with its dedicated service experts and smart entrance control technology, ensures a seamless integration of security measures. Supporting office managers from initial design and specification to leveraging the latest technological advancements, including biometric and mobile technology, Gunnebo facilitates comprehensive security while maintaining a positive and inviting atmosphere within office spaces.
The addition of Gunnebo’s EntraLinq allows authorised users to independently control systems remotely. This enables access as required, including the opportunity to set and change predefined settings for how the entrance operates and one-time access for visitors.
Managers can monitor and analyse access data in real-time, including passage counts and flow rates alongside fraud alarms, load distribution and capacity utilisation. And maintain the entrance control system to ensure operational efficiency.
This level of mobility and responsiveness enables quick and accurate responses to security events, contributing to a more robust and adaptive entrance control operation.
In summary, for the first time since the pandemic, there’s a mixed reaction to the future of working from home. The shift is seeing a return-to-office, especially amongst new generations entering the workforce. It reflects on well-being with the importance of connection and collaboration and demonstrates how the preferences for ‘hybrid working’ are here to stay.
The changing nature of the office brings clear security implications. It can make simple questions such as ‘who is in the office? for fire safety compliance, or establishing ways to manage desks and meeting rooms to suit flexible working hours is more complex to answer.
The goal is to create a secure and efficient system that meets the specific needs of an office environment. It requires a multifaceted approach and, in this context, goes beyond protection. It takes the careful planning of physical entrance control security, and when this is combined with the use of smart technology, becomes a cornerstone for creating a comfortable, inspiring, and secure workspace.
In conclusion, whether employees are working remotely, in co-working spaces, or newly designed sustainable offices, Gunnebo’s entrance control systems ensure that access is both flexible and secure, facilitating a seamless transition into the futureproof era of hybrid working.
Gunnebo Entrance Control has launched a comprehensive guide to modern office building entrance control systems. To download, please visit: https://www.gunneboentrancecontrol.com/en/industries/offices-and-public-buildings/