When it comes to office buildings, we may reflect on 2023 as the year when the return to the office is stronger than ever. Yet the conditions and expectations for employees, visitors and managers have been transformed.
Tina Hughan, Gunnebo Entrance Control Marketing Director looks at ways the office footprint is continuing to evolve in significant ways, with new demands placed on businesses, including the changing nature of function, layout, security and design.
Now we are in a truly post-pandemic work environment, more employers are urging staff back into the office and employees are increasingly looking for reasons behind why they should leave the remote working life.
Employers, faced with concerns such as mounting costs, talent attraction and retention, are faced with the balance between looking for offices to work harder to entice employees back, in offering the necessary peace to work with the flexibility and agility of office layouts.
According to the latest reports , the solution isn’t necessarily reducing the amount of space on offer to each individual office user, rather than increasing the utilisation of space.
‘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.
It’s a much more fluid experience, with no one-size-fits-all approach. For many the prescriptive 9 – 5, five days a week has changed forever. While certain tasks can be done at home, decision-makers want to recapture the benefits of ‘better together’ in-person interaction. Where the office inspires collaboration, sharing of ideas and colleagues’ ability to socialise.
Space Utilisation and Security
Improving how we utilise space is the key to increased productivity in a hybrid world. As employers reimagine the office as a place which offers more than people can get at home, serviced offices with flexible layouts are more popular.
Businesses when trying to accommodate these requirements, need to take various factors into consideration such as productivity, communication and, most importantly, security while setting up different styles of workspace.
Also known as activity-based working, this type of office layout uses space more efficiently, working with employees to provide the best setting for them to succeed.
There is a deep focus on company culture as offices become busier. With the office becoming more of a ‘destination,’ it makes sense that you need a quality environment to encourage quality work.
The Importance of Workplace Security
The right workplace can have a huge impact on the culture. As part of this security is essential to get right, not just for the protection of assets within a business, but also to ensure employees feel safe in their environment to carry out their work.
Yet the changing nature of the office, 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 more complex to answer
Technical solutions for people counting like accurate touchless access control systems or easy-to-use video analytics can help solve this issue.
These advanced systems provide real-time data on the number of people in a building, enabling organisations to adhere to occupancy limits, monitor employee and visitor office usage, and ensure safety protocols are followed.
Security Design and Planning
The key to success is creating a robust security plan that can adapt, be built upon and evolve as sites grow and change.
Main considerations include the physical location of security to blend with the surroundings and integrate with entrance and access control measures, both physical and digital, to limit entry to only authorised personnel throughout a site.
Touchless access control systems can track employees’ entry and exit without physical contact. When employees are provided with mobile credentials to enter a workplace, there is a reduced likelihood of loss or cloning, all adding to the security of an office environment.
The added value of entrance control based on mobile credentials is employee confidence in a seamless, efficient operation. Where peace of mind is provided to the employee that their security is bespoke to them and their individual requirements for access to an office building.
Strong workplace security gives your employees confidence and makes them feel safe when they’re at work. Since your employees are one of your biggest assets, keeping them confident and safe is important.
Working from the Outside In
To effectively protect an office building from potential security threats, it’s crucial to acknowledge these risks extend far beyond the front door.
In today’s complex security landscape, perimeter protection sets the stage for a secure environment. It serves as the initial deterrent against unauthorised access, vandalism, and other security breaches. In urban settings where expansive physical barriers may not be feasible, innovative solutions are required.
Technological advancements have paved the way for intelligent perimeter security systems. These solutions, such as smart sensors, video analytics, and visual verification, enable proactive monitoring and quick response to potential threats.
Entrance Control Technology and Visitor Management
Moving inward, the focus shifts to entrance control technology. It’s essential for these systems to strike a delicate balance between security and aesthetics. Offices aim to create welcoming environments for visitors while ensuring the safety and well-being of employees.
Office buildings often feature sleek, modern designs that optimise open spaces, natural light, and collaborative work areas. Entrance control solutions must align with these trends to avoid creating a fortress-like atmosphere that can deter both visitors and employees. They should add to the overall look and feel of a reception area, not detract from it.
The integration of access control and visitor management systems has become increasingly sophisticated. Modern entrance control technology offers features like mobile touch, facial recognition, touchless access, and visitor pre-registration. These innovations not only enhance security but also streamline the entry process, improving the overall visitor and employee experience.
Security and Flexible Working
As offices adapt to the advances in flexible working, consideration of entrance control plays a pivotal role in accommodating the evolving needs of both employees and organisations.
Flexible hours extend the operational availability of the office building, requiring 24/7 access opportunities. This presents security with the requirement to provide visual verification and access control over an extended period.
The same is true for the increased trends towards multi-tenant buildings, where each company will need to ensure that only relevant staff and visitors have access to their floor or designated space.
The ability to assign new access rights, change permissions and/or manage exceptions such as employees arriving at work having forgotten their badge, will need to be shared between co-existing companies in the building.
Entrance control solutions can be tailored to grant access based on specific criteria, including time of day, job role, or individual schedules. This means employees can effortlessly enter the workspace, whether it’s a corporate office, co-working space, or remote satellite office, without compromising security.
Integrated visitor management allows organisations to pre-register guests and provide them with the necessary access permissions. Whether it’s a client meeting or a temporary workspace, the process is streamlined, enhancing the overall visitor experience.
The beauty of entrance control for flexible working lies in their own adaptability. They can be configured to suit the bespoke needs of each organisation, from start-ups with limited office space to large businesses with multiple locations.
As office managers continue to evolve with the changing dynamics of the workplace, data insights from intelligent security can provide valuable insight into space utilisation, foot traffic patterns and access trends.
This information empowers organisations to grow, evolve and continue to optimise their office layouts, allocate resources and make informed decisions about their flexible work policies. The security measures in place can grow and evolve with the company.
In summary, we have seen how traditional workspaces have changed dramatically, creating a way for employees to adopt innovative ways to work, and understanding the importance of creating a comfortable and inspiring space.
The flexibility of a hybrid model means more responsibility on individuals to get the work done, allowing them to work to a schedule that suits them.
Within this, a deep focus on the company culture within the office environment encourages a place where a support network has been formed and one that people want to join, return and be part of.
This all brings a new focus on the importance of security and well-being for employees and visitors. It requires a multifaceted approach that begins with perimeter protection and extends inward to the use of intelligent entrance control systems, integrating access management.
Striking the right balance between security and aesthetics is essential to create a welcoming environment for visitors and employees alike.
Gunnebo presents dedicated service experts ready to ensure minimum product downtime, with the specification of smart entrance control technology. This is not only to ensure design, manufacture and installation are seamless but also that maintenance and administration are sustained for the benefit of office managers, employees and visitors.
By leveraging the latest technological advancements including biometric and mobile technology, and integrating them seamlessly with modern architecture and interior design trends, owners can achieve comprehensive security while maintaining a positive and inviting atmosphere within their office spaces.
So whether employees are working remotely, in co-working spaces, or in newly designed sustainable offices, these systems ensure that access is both flexible and secure, facilitating a seamless transition into the futureproof era of hybrid working.