How COVID-19 shapes the modern workplace: Smartphone-based access technology instead of key cards and pin pads
Businesses and organizations worldwide are reimagining how the new post-pandemic workplace will look
Half a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and organizations worldwide are reimagining how the new post-pandemic workplaces will look.
With physical distancing and efficient hygiene practices being on the top of everyone’s list, contactless technology is on the rise, as contactless solutions can help address the many challenges that the pandemic has brought into our lives.
After the many measures introduced to stop the spread of the pandemic, including quarantines and lockdowns, employees are slowly starting to return to their offices. However, workplaces are also put in a vulnerable spot, especially since they are carrying the risk of being potential hot-spots for spreading the virus.
In such cases, implementing best practices to prevent potential exposure becomes key for most businesses. Czech-based 2N Telekomunikace, a developer and manufacturer of IP intercom and access system technology, is one of the companies that help businesses in dealing with these challenges, offering solutions and technologies that aid the global fight against the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has put the modern workplace in a vulnerable spot. As more and more people return to offices following the recent lockdown, more rigorous measures will need to be put in place, such as contactless access control systems.” Michal Kratochvíl, 2N Telekomunikace’s CEO said.
“The key card or pin pad that many of us used to access the office before the pandemic will have no place in the post-COVID-19 workplace. The virus can remain viable on these surfaces for several hours and can spread to other people.”
Therefore, most of 2N’s products and solutions focus on mobile-based access systems, which eliminate the need for shared surfaces and at the same time provide safe and secured office access, Kratochvil adds.
While smartphones have evolved in becoming a key tool in people’s daily lives, such as controlling smart homes, shopping, or making online payments, now they can assist in dealing with the effects of the pandemic, too.
“They can also help relieve us from costly and cumbersome cards and fobs, by acting as our secure access credential. The advantages of contactless entry controls, remote control of visitor access, and socially distanced video intercoms are all the more apparent when so much focus is on hygiene.” Kratochvil points out.
While in 2018, mobile credentials were downloaded and used by 4.1 million people worldwide, IHS Markit projects that by 2023 this number could well reach over 120 million. A recent survey also showed that more and more employees are now prioritizing the security that mobile-based access control systems provide, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
While most workers are still using key cards to enter their offices, 41 percent said that now their preferred choice for credentials would be smartphones or smartwatches.
As technology already plays a vital role in providing reassurance and protection for people around the world, mobile-based and other modern access control solutions are already making a difference for various communities.
One example is how a school building in Prague uses access systems to improve its functioning. The building, currently used by three institutions - an elementary school, a high-school, and local municipality offices, implemented a solution that managed to resolve access for all three institutions, enabling separate entry points and creating individual zones and restrictions related to the time of day.
Elsewhere in the world, another example is that of a women’s center and shelter building in the US city of Pittsburgh. The center, which has been operational for more than 40 years and provides care for victims of abuse and domestic violence, faced issues with its outdated security and communication systems. The solution that helped the center deal with its security concerns was a new video telephone system, with IP video intercoms and dynamic IP access control.
„With the increased visibility and two-step verification, there is no way a violent abuser can get into the building,” said Mark Ritter, Information Systems manager at the center.
When it comes to the future of these and similar access control systems, the turbulence that the pandemic brought also means that companies in this industry will keep focusing on innovation.
“Before this current crisis, 13% of revenues were reinvested in R&D, and that will continue. Mobile will be a particular area of focus for innovation. Also, more integration, and incorporating products from different companies to provide fully comprehensive security systems.” Kratochvil explained.
“The future of the industry is in maximizing the impact of partnerships for the benefit of the users. For now, one thing does seem clear though - the pace of innovation in this sector will benefit customers, whatever their specific needs may be.”
Bojan Stojkovski is a freelance journalist who has been covering foreign policy and EU affairs for more than a decade. Based in Skopje, North Macedonia, he reports on technology, science, and environmental issues, as well as human rights and post-war societies in the western Balkan countries.