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Pick the right locks

Jo Milne-Rowe, Chair of the Institute of Architectural Ironmongers, warns that the flexible working environments expected by today’s workers require smarter access control

According to recent research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), UK worker productivity has fallen to a two-year low (see References, note 1). Employers can help increase workplace productivity by incentivising staff with flexible working hours and by creating adaptable working environments. When employees have the ability to hot-desk and work in dynamic teams, they are found to be a more engaged and productive workforce.

With online communication tools, videoconferencing technology and cloud-based file-sharing, applications are more accessible than ever, so it’s no surprise that 74 per cent (2) of European firms now operate flexible working. For businesses to grow, FMs need to be able to provide access to the right tools and technology, as well as comfortable and productive workspaces for staff.

Smart working also helps to reduce costs by allowing FMs to decrease wasted space and cut back equipment costs.

Research has also found that creating environments where staff can choose their most efficient working environment enhances productivity. It has been revealed that 54 per cent (3) of office workers feel that hot-desking makes the office a more open and welcoming space, and promotes cross-team collaboration.

For settings where employees share desks, the need for a more adaptable workspace has led to increasing demand for lockable furniture. With the popularity of hot-desking rising, the workplace needs to provide a solution where employees can safeguard their personal belongings when going to meetings or lunch.

In addition to this, where parking restrictions and low emission zones are active, more people are now cycling to work, meaning that FMs must provide bicycle storage facilities where employees can store their bikes securely.

Electronic digital locks are ideal for businesses who need to store away data, secure expensive equipment and control access to IT areas. By equipping staff with controlled access to lockers and cabinets using a code, staff can simply use the same code over and over again to access laptops, tablets, gym kit and other personal possessions without the hassle of using keys.

If codes are forgotten, the locks can be reprogrammed in minutes – perfect for multi-occupancy offices, freeing FMs from the chore of spending too much time administering locks.

IMPROVING YOUR WORKSPACE
An average person spends one-third of their life at work, so it is essential that organisations provide an engaging, pleasant workspace to improve the health and wellbeing of staff as well as increase productivity.

Optimising office space so that employees have access to various types of working areas, such as quiet rooms, shared desks, secure IT facilities and client meeting rooms, demand varying levels of access control measures. To support flexible working hours and controlled access to workplaces, FMs need smart access control. This gives employees the ability to access buildings, rooms or areas at times convenient to them.

For environments looking to control and manage access remotely, smart locks are a cost-effective and convenient solution. Ideal for leisure centres, music studios, warehouses, offices and organisations that rent out space or have flexible workers, smart locks provide 24/7 access through a unique code. Staff simply receive a code via SMS or email, which can be created with a specific start date and time, automatically expiring after a set duration.

The audit trail function allows FMs to track users entering and exiting the workplace, and at what time, enhancing security for both the property and any employees that are working late. The cost-effective solution allows businesses to save money by reducing staff overheads, as there is no need to employ receptionists or security to manage access on site.

A business that rents out studio space, for example, wanted locks that would allow musicians self-service access to recording studios and associated locker rentals at allotted times. This was crucially important to the business model as eliminating the need for onsite staff allowed it to keep its overheads and rental prices down, passing on the cost benefit to its customers.

THE FUTURE WORKPLACE
It’s important that facilities managers recognise how people are living and working today, as well as how their existing access control solutions may or may not fit into the next generation’s future.

It’s not just about door locks any more; businesses are interested in the future of connected products as well as tracking, meaning that access control solutions need to be capable of aligning with future business strategies.

Within the next five years, new integrated technology such as fingerprint readers and retina scanners will be a massive challenge. The industry needs to acquire the knowledge to manage smart, connected products. Upgrading access control to meet the needs of the modern workforce is essential for business growth.

Jo Milne-Rowe is National Sales Manager at Codelocks.

About Sarah OBeirne

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