Access Control and Return-to-Work Strategies: Putting Safety First

A modern physical access control system (PACS) can play a significant role in making the workplace safe and secure for everyone.

As employees slowly return to workplaces, a large amount of responsibility falls on employers to create a safe and secure workspace from the ever-present threat of a COVID 19 outbreak. Employees bring a new social consciousness focused on public health awareness, social distancing, and hygienic spaces. As employers think about ensuring safety for workers who want to return to the physical workplace, they must adapt to meet these requirements.

Offices and closed workspaces are at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks. Health authorities have made employers responsible for stopping or slowing down the transmission of the coronavirus.

Workplaces need to consider adopting the general guidelines and directions provided by World Health Organisation and other authorities to their specific business environments and implementing preventive measures to protect their workers and the society from the menace of infection.

Physical access control systems can help execute or implement most of the new workplace security and safety protocols. The industry's most significant issue is older systems' performance capabilities and outdated hardware and physical touchpoints such as key cards, fobs, biometric fingerprint scanners, and PIN pads.

Out with the old

Most of today's existing current systems are inconvenient because everyone has to swipe their badge every time they enter or exit.

Imagine a new way of accessing buildings that doesn't require an ID card or physical touchpoints. With this new technology, a smartphone with Bluetooth enabled and an app installed on it, is all that is needed.

Hands-Free unlock systems are still in use at many workplaces, but their limitations make them unsuitable for workplaces in the current COVID-19 environment. Some of the risks associated with outdated access control methods are as follows:

Germs can stick to plastic key cards and get passed around;
Key cards are easy to copy and are a security risk;
FOBs and key cards cannot be issued or revoked without visiting the workplace;
It might be a problem to grant access to disinfection crews when the office is locked down;
There's no way to update door schedules and working hours;
Security systems hosted on local servers cannot be accessed remotely;
The coronavirus can remain viable for several hours on door handles, contact-based biometric scanners and pin pads.

Pre-pandemic access control systems were already on their way with smartphone and passive face recognition systems. COVID-19 has accelerated the demise of these old systems and the adoption of new technologies like face recognition through phone authentication.

In with the new

One solution is to use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to use their smartphones to identify instead of cards.

There are numerous advantages to modern access control methods, particularly in the current COVID-19 context.

They can enable employers to create and manage safer workplaces by implementing COVID-19 related regulations and monitoring the security measures remotely, without having on-site security crews.

Using a video surveillance system, security teams can monitor the workplace at the moment and find out if people are maintaining 6 feet distance when entering the workplace or during work. Face recognition access control also works as a video intercom to let the front desk employees speak remotely to visitors.

Modern access control systems are generally cloud-based, which means you can grant or revoke permissions, modify accessibility schedules, and change permission levels from anywhere, anytime. The system eliminates dependence on physical or face to face interactions for issuing key cards or fobs.

Workplace security risks can arise as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks and people's psychological and financial condition. Using cloud-based access control, security teams can instantly lock or unlock any particular door or section of the building to deal with safety or security threats. The security team can revoke permissions for laid off or sick employees as soon as a request is received from the Human Resources Department.

People returning to work are likely to avoid using common touch surfaces such as keypads, touchscreens, or fingerprint scanners. Face recognition access control allows users to unlock the door by just looking at the face reader.

While the pandemic is a daunting challenge for business and security, it also represents an opportunity to create a return-to-work strategy that' safe and secure. In order to do so, facility managers need to examine the suitability of access control, in a changed world, in detail.

Access control is vital in creating safer, more secure work environments, and recognised industry professionals should only install systems. If you have any questions about how PACS systems could improve your workplace environment

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