5 Ways to Prepare Your Corporate Real Estate Building for the Future Workplace

While the return to work is a great sign for anyone managing corporate real estate, it also presents a new set of challenges. The future of the workplace looks very different than it was before the pandemic. As business starts to pick up once again, it comes with new expectations for health and safety in the workplace. Looking at rising commercial security system trendsOpens in a new tab. in particular, corporate building owners can prepare their spaces not only for a safer return to work, but also create sustainable, scalable processes that will keep buildings secure as everyone continues to move forward. 

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Take a look at the top 5 ways corporate real estate managers can prepare their buildings for the workplace of the future: 

1. Support flexible and hybrid work models

One of the key trends that has permeated across industries over the course of the past year is the spike in hybrid work and flexible schedules. While staggered shifts helped support social distancing measures early on in the pandemic, many companies are opting to stay the flexible workforce course. In fact, a recent survey by slack found that 72% of respondents prefer a hybrid office model with the option to work remotely at least part of the time. What does this mean for corporate real estate?

When it comes to building security and the future of work, corporate offices need the ability to accommodate and support flexible work schedules. This means the workplace needs to be accessible to the right people 24/7. The best way to do this without compromising building security is to have a building access control system and security platform that can be managed remotely. With the ability to remotely lock or unlock the door, issue instant access credentials, and trigger building lockdowns in the event of an emergency, office tenants can give their employees access when needed, and corporate building managers won’t have to increase staffing needs to cover a 24/7 door schedule.

Remote access control works best when paired with other systems that facilitate hybrid work and take the burden off HR and administrative teams. For example, by linking web-based applications for pre-registering for office access, desk-mapping software, and access control credentials, only those that have been approved will be able to access the building. No more emailed forms, or people locked out after-hours. In addition, these web-based platforms will keep a digital record of all registration and access activity, which is important for meeting local compliance and data privacy requirements.

2. Implementing touchless experiences

What was once a cool, futuristic building technology has now become a necessity for safety in the workplace. Touchless technology is key to convenience, and also gives people peace of mind. For corporate real estate managers, technology such as touchless entry and contactless elevators are essential to preparing buildings for the return to work, and for future tenants. Now that touchless is here, it’s definitely here to stay.

One of the best places to incorporate touchless technology is at the front door and elevators of corporate office buildings. With a touchless entry system, credentialed users no longer have to dig for their keycard or touch a reader to unlock the door. The good thing about this security system trend is that it’s easier to implement than you might think. With commercial access system door locksOpens in a new tab. and readers that utilize Bluetooth and NFC technology, users only need their smartphone to unlock the door. Mobile-based and touchless access control also eliminates keycards entirely, which is a more sustainable and scalable security practice for corporate office buildings. If security is still a concern, mobile access can also be configured to require 2FA through FaceID, fingerprint scan, or passcodes, and some access control providers also have digital badging for added visual verification at the door.

Don’t forget about guests! Digital visitor passes and touchless check-in processes are key to making a great impression, and for facilitating amazing visitor experiences. Plus, doing away with paper sign-in lists makes reception operations more efficient and more compliant. 

3. Operating on scalable systems

In order to be successful in managing corporate real estate, flexibility is essential. Whether tenants are expanding into new office space, or opting to downsize and spread out with smaller, more distributed sites, corporate managers need to be able to accommodate it without causing headaches. That’s one main reason cloud-based building systems are among the top commercial building trends this year. 

Cloud-based systems offer greater scalability in three key ways:

• First, by decentralizing the management, the cloud eliminates dependency on physical space for local servers and hardware, with everything managed from a single interface. This is an incredible boon for ROI, as it streamlines building management.

• Remote access to the cloud-based software means teams can work from anywhere. For corporate real estate managers with multiple buildings, this eliminates much of the back-and-forth travel necessary for routine tasks. Plus, remote visibility into all sites improves operations and building security.  

• Syncing data across sites and locations is automatic over the cloud, which is important for compliance. In addition, cloud-based systems are often equipped with over-the-air updates, which allows them to roll out important security upgrades or new features much faster than on-premise systems.

The more systems operating in the cloud, the faster organizations will be able to respond and adapt quickly to business needs. Organizations that are able to scale their operations at the click of a button are more likely to thrive through new challenges and lead their industries, rather than struggle to keep up with installing security patches, configuring new features at every building, and adhering to the latest safety and compliance requirements.

4. Occupancy tracking and monitoring 

Currently, occupancy tracking is key to following local social distancing guidelines, giving administrators visibility into how many people are accessing the building. With more people beginning to return to the workplace, the ability to set and adjust capacity limits at a moment’s notice, and to enforce them via access control credentials, is a smart way for office and corporate real estate managers to ensure all guidelines are followed. Tools such as density sensors, people counters, and Bluetooth-enabled access control facilitate better occupancy management, with huge potential for ROI down the road.

As businesses prepare for the future workplace, that occupancy data plays a pivotal role in proactive corporate office management. For building managers and commercial real estate operators, having detailed occupancy reporting will be an essential tool for proactive lease management and understanding tenant behaviors, especially as they navigate returning to work after COVID-19Opens in a new tab.. Office managers and enterprise organizations can use occupancy data trends to identify how and when specific spaces are being used, and if there is opportunity to optimize those spaces. Because adaptability is essential to future-proofing any workplace, the right occupancy tracking and management technology is an investment that can lead to better building management and improved tenant and employee experiences.  

5. Future-proofing through automation

Hand-in-hand with the rise of remote work, cloud-based building technologies are more available than ever. One of the biggest benefits of operating building systems in the cloud is the ability to integrate and connect related technologies for automation. The ability to streamline operations and simplify processes results in faster response times and a more adaptable, nimble system overall. What it boils down to is, more automation means lower overhead costs and better ROI.

Corporate real estate owners should evaluate current systems that function disparately, and determine which systems are taking up a disproportionate amount of the team’s time. For example, if the building’s security team has to log into one system to see who’s credentialing into the office, and then log into another system to check security camera footage, that’s wasted time and effort that could be solved with integrating the access control and VMS systems. With an integrated system that employs automations, security teams are automatically notified of a security event (such as an unauthorized unlock attempt), and they can then log into one system to see which credentials were used, and check the camera footage in the same interface to visually verify who was at the door. This saves time in determining the appropriate response, whether it’s to remotely unlock the door and let the person in, or to notify authorities of an attempted breach.

Another common example is using integrated and automated HVAC, lighting, and office temperature control to aid in office sustainability that responds to how many people are in the office, or based on the weather outside. Employing the use of business intelligence tools to aggregate data from all building systems is a great way for administrators and managers to identify opportunities to improve operations. Plus, with the rise in IoT-connected technology, corporate real estate owners can now automate across all their sites and devices anywhere in the world. Wherever there’s room for automation, there’s a chance to streamline processes, lessen the chance of human error, and make the building safer, more secure, and a better experience for staff, tenants, and employees.

Corporate real estate owners have the unique opportunity to prepare their workplace for a successful return to the office now, while future-proofing their buildings at the same time. Safety and security remain a top concern for both tenants and commercial real estate managers. As the types of technology tenants expect to see in their workplaces shifts along with how people access and utilize their offices, corporate real estate owners will be tasked with making sure their buildings live up to those expectations. In evaluating the latest physical security trendsOpens in a new tab., it’s clear that organizations are investing in technology that prioritizes health and safety will give people peace of mind right now, with an eye on adaptable, interoperable systems. Because the future workplace will likely be more flexible than ever before, with hybrid work models and more distributed teams, corporate building owners can invest now in equally flexible, proactive technology and platforms that make the transition smoother, and ensure their buildings are future-proofed for whatever challenges they face next. 

Author’s Bio:

Andi Hendrickson is the marketing copywriter for Openpath Security, a leading provider of mobile and cloud-based access control solutions for business and commercial spaces. Andi covers commercial and business security solutions with a focus on touchless technology and access control. With more than 8 years of experience, Andi has a keen eye for identifying upcoming security trends and intuitive software solutions for the commercial real estate and enterprise market.

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