Article originally posted via Brilliance Security Magazine (Source: Tamara Parker)

The implications of COVID-19 have been profound, and the road to business recovery is evolving and fluid. Facility leaders around the world are shifting their priorities. Their focus was once creating a workplace that promotes employee productivity and company values. Now, it’s ensuring that their workplace, and everyone who enters it, remains safe and healthy.

With all the coronavirus uncertainty, it might feel strange to start working on how to open our offices again. But no matter whether you’re planning on reopening in one month, or one year, that’s precisely what we need to do. The office as we know it will never be the same again, and returning will be a bigger adjustment than most think. Those who procrastinate risk wasting a lot of time and money on last-minute, inadequate solutions. 

But where do you start?

While many companies are focusing on clean-desk policies, one-way corridors, and fewer seats in conference rooms, these habits alone won’t be enough. To meet the new standards for workplace safety, organisations will need to adopt technology in order to create a high-functioning, healthier, and safe space for their employees and visitors.

Enter touchless technology.

Read on to learn four ways to increase safety and security in the ‘new workplace’ with touchless technology. 

1) Hands-free authentication

Once a luxury, now a necessity for the new workplace. Hands-free, frictionless, contactless or touchless — whatever you want to call it, it’s not just a convenience factor anymore. 

Avoiding unnecessary contact with any potentially contaminated surfaces during these times is critical. With employees returning to the workplace and visitors coming and going (cleaners, contractors and guests to name a few), that’s up to hundreds of people per day who could be touching the same reader to get access. 

With touchless mobile access, companies can create a convenient, reliable and safe environment that instills confidence in employees, tenants, and visitors. Touchless access using virtual credentials stored in a mobile phone or wearable can activate boom gates, turnstiles, doors, elevators, and more from a configurable distance, unlike keycards that often require direct contact to work. Without removing your phone from your pocket, touchless access via Bluetooth provides contactless, barrier-free and user-friendly access that guarantees secure entry, minimizes high-frequency touchpoints, and reduces the spread of germs. 

2) Implementing a touchless check-in experience 

A “touchless check-in” experience can limit surface contact and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and potential future outbreaks in the workplace. Rather than touching a tablet to enter information, or signing in on paper manually, touchless check-in does not require touching equipment or surfaces upon entry into a building, office, or facility.

Here’s how it works: 

  1. Send visitors your check-in information before their arrival, either via email or SMS. This will include basic building information such as where to park, where to go once they arrive and steps to obtain their visitor pass. You can also have important health and safety information to read in advance so your visitors know what to expect while they’re at your workplace. 
  2. If you need guests to sign any documents or take their photos, allow them to do so in advance. This could include a COVID-19 screening questionnaire that dictates whether visitor access is permitted. 
  3. When all necessary information has been received and the person has passed the questionnaire, your organisation’s admin can issue a temporary credential OTA to the visitor’s mobile device. This eliminates the need for a face-to-face sign in, makes it faster and easier for authorised contractors and visitors to access your building and ensures that when the set time-period on that credential expires, the visitor will no longer be able to gain access. 

3) Maintain comprehensive activity and incident logs

It can take up to two weeks before someone sick with COVID-19 begins showing visible symptoms, during which they are unknowingly highly contagious to others. This is where the ability to conduct thorough contact tracing is crucial to stop the spread as soon as possible.

Where employees access their offices with keys and cards, and visitors are checking in with an illegible scribble at the front desk, it becomes incredibly difficult to track down close contacts. Employees could be socially tailgating their coworkers, and visitors could forget to sign in, meaning people can be unaccounted for and records of who entered your organisation and when they become inaccurate. Using touchless access technology, the reader can detect nearby Bluetooth devices, whether the user badges in or not, making it simple to recall detailed logs of everyone who was present when an infected individual was around. 

4) Dynamic management of your credentials 

So, let’s say you give your employees and visitors a touchless access experience. Now you can track person-to-person proximity with contact tracing.  How do you stay responsive with continually changing access requirements? If a person or persons have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, how do you stop that person from accessing your workplace? 

Instant OTA credentials

With a cloud-based access manager, issuing and revoking access is simple. Instantly issue a secure mobile credential with the click of a button, eliminating the need for face-to-face onboarding and handling cards. Changes are immediate, meaning you can manage touchless credentials remotely and take fast action towards health and safety breaches.

Link wellness with access

COVID-19 risk profiling is essential for businesses to ensure that no one presenting flu-like symptoms is permitted to access the workplace. Conducting daily health screenings before allowing employees to return to the office and integrating this into the touchless visitor sign-in progress, allows you to reject access to people who don’t meet basic return-to-work guidelines. With remote management of credentials, a visitor who fails to pass a health questionnaire before they arrive can have their access restricted.

Control density with booking systems

To control the capacity of specific spaces within your building (maybe it’s a meeting room or even a gym class studio), implement booking systems that only enable authorised users inside. This might seem like a simple solution, but linking touchless access technology with booking systems ensures no one can join spaces without a valid credential. 

When headcount reaches unsafe levels, your reporting system will notify security, safety, and workplace teams in real-time. All you need to do is set a maximum number of devices for that space and the access control system will do the rest.