Alexandra Stocks

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The Future of the Workplace – what is the future for security and access?

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Steve Natton is a Technical Business Development Manager at Gallagher, a global leader in security and access control solutions. As businesses and staff look for their sites to provide something different post-pandemic, keeping track of who is on-site, where they are and how they are using the space will become even more important. In this article, which is part of our Future of the Workplace report, Steve explores the role of security and access technology in enabling different, innovative ways of working.

Download our full Future of the Workplace report here, and read our launch blog here.

The last 12 months has forced a dramatic change in our working and living patterns. As we now approach our one year milestone, we realise a reality – that we’re in this for the longer term. Many elements of our new workplace world are here to stay, new habits, voluntary or otherwise, are shaping our future and the balance between work-life and home-life continues to be fragile.

So, can we embrace the positives in our new world? Yes, absolutely. There are many encouraging aspects to our new way of working and living. Employers have learned to trust more. IT departments have had to rapidly enable teams to remote work. We’ve all had to learn to communicate differently. Perhaps, one of the biggest and most positive changes we’ve adopted.

But as working from home has steadily become the norm, we should ask ourselves some key questions – ‘Where is the office network boundary now?’ and ‘How secure is it?’, ‘How can employers support a safe and healthy return to offices?’, ‘What do we, as consumers and employees, want to see from our office environments as we move forward?’ and ‘Where does a security system fit into all of this?’

“We should ask ourselves some key questions – ‘Where is the office network boundary now?’ and ‘How secure is it?’”

A physical security system can offer more than just opening and closing doors. We need to think about how we can use the available technology to improve business continuity, customer experiences and of course, security. Some of the solutions have been accelerated by the current pandemic and we are now starting to see business owners think differently about how they manage their workplace access as the return to work becomes an achievable reality. For one, open platform integrations have moved from a ‘nice to have’ to an essential core of element of a modern security system.

The office or workplace will still be the primary hub for social interaction, creativity, health and success but remote working will continue to play a part in our new world as employers trust their staff to deliver results in different ways. But as the internal network boundary increases, so too does the security risk. A company’s security is only as strong as the weakest part of its network. Remote working has widened the net in terms of vulnerabilities across business networks – what exactly is being plugged in? Can employees access corporate data? Is sensitive information being shared across unstable networks? How much do you know about your smart listening device? Companies need to be robust in their cyber security as well as their physical security and think about the safety of their data as well as their staff.

As the country opens up again and the return to work gathers pace, employers are likely to look at implementing more controls across their workplaces. With the advent of shared office spaces, alternate working patterns, more staff adopting flexible working, a security system can provide increased control for employers who are increasingly interested not just in who enters their building, but how many, at what time and where are they working. As we see increasing amounts of automation and intelligence being built into building design, the integration of 3rd party systems to support the management of people will become a standard part of a security operation system too. Employers not only need to run their business, but they need to keep it secure, keep their staff safe and mitigate future risks as well. Integration, to improve the management and safety of people, will become second nature. Consider this, an individual would like to apply for a job – they vet their future employer – what are they looking for? How innovative is this employer, are they mitigating for risk, how contactless and frictionless is my experience going to be, does my future employer focus on my health, safety and well-being? Employers will increasingly need robust security system integration to stand up to these simple questions and tests.

“The system now knows you’re here, the lift is called to take you to your floor and your regular coffee order is already being dispensed from the machine as you step out of the lift.”

With this, we turn our focus to the evolution of the smart building. Change breeds innovation. The rise of the smart building was happening a long time before Covid stole the limelight but the demand for a frictionless journey is now becoming a reality and people are now coming to expect more from their employers and their workplaces. Imagine this, you arrive at work, your phone provides access to your building, the system now knows you’re here, the lift is called to take you to your floor and your regular coffee order is already being dispensed from the machine as you step out of the lift. Smart. Innovative. Responsive. Possible.

The reality is, the future is shaping up to look like this – remote provisioning, frictionless, innovative experiences, integrating security and people management solutions, making your workplace and your security solution do more for you. Covid or no Covid, the next generation will expect more and will demand different. Businesses now have a brilliant opportunity to look at what’s possible and how they can secure a better, safer, and more innovative future for their teams.

Steve Natton
@GGL_Steve
security.gallagher.com

Download the Chamber’s full Future of the Workplace report here, and read our launch blog here.

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