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Secure space

Flexible office space is predicted to grow by an average of 25 per cent per year over the next five years. Getting entrance security right is an important part of maintaining the appeal of these workspaces argues Iain Entwistle, Product Marketing Manager at Meesons A.I.

Flexible office space across Europe has more than doubled in size since 2014 and is set to grow by up to 30 per cent per year over the next five years. The drivers behind this rapid growth are changes in how, when and where people work, shifts in lifestyle, and rapid advancements in technology that allow remote working. Cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow have experienced strong growth. Flexible spaces in London already makes up around 20 per cent of the total.

The explosion in tech start-ups and the rise of the gig economy is driving the market, whilst corporate attitudes are changing from having one large headquarters to being flexible about where staff work. Companies are realising, too, especially those in the tech sector, that to attract the right calibre of employees they need to be flexible in terms of location and work patterns, which means the traditional 9-5 office setting may no longer be suitable.

This growth in flexible and shared office space is prompting facility managers to look for better ways of creating safe working environments and which are accessible 24/7.

However, the very nature of flexible office space, characterised by an ever changing, transitory workforce, presents quite a challenge, especially where there isn’t a permanent reception or security team. The most vulnerable location tends to be the front entrance, where there is a temptation for criminals to simply walk through in the knowledge that they won’t be challenged. Add to this the fact that many tech and gig-based businesses need 24/7 access and you can see why getting entrance control right might at first seem daunting. However, there are a number of options:

Speed Gates are a good choice if there is a permanently staffed reception point, especially if there is a high throughput of people. That’s because they are capable of allowing around 40 people per minute to transit through each lane, and can be specified in multiple banks to facilitate a greater throughput of people per minute.

In order to prevent criminals gaining access by closely following behind an authorised user, without presenting the correct ID, biometric or pin, Speed Gates should incorporate anti-tailgating measures. It is also worth specifying alarms on the cabinet in case a person attempts to use it as a base to climb over. The alarm alerts the facility manager or security team who can then intervene and apprehend the would-be intruder.

In terms of aesthetics, most Speed Gates are highly customisable and can be specified with a wide range of materials, finishes and colours such as stainless steel, bronze and Corian, making them contrast or complement the interior design scheme. They can be provided with compact footprints, suitable for smaller entrance areas with restricted space, and can be retro-fitted into refurbished buildings with minimal disruption to existing floors.

Where secure 24/7 access is required, and where there isn’t a staffed reception or manned-security team, Security Portals are the best choice, because they are capable of preventing unauthorised access and forced entry attack.

Security Portals operate as a standalone interlocking door system creating a highly secure physical barrier at the point of entry. They provide an effective method of controlling access through single-person authenticated entry, whilst preventing a person tailgating their way into the building.

Recent innovations in the industry include fire rated portals which can give people vital extra minutes to escape in the event of a fire because they help maintain the ‘safe corridor’ out of the building. Once occupants have safely evacuated there are other benefits, because they then protect data and other assets from the flames by providing up to two hours protection.

Until relatively recently, it was common for fire-rated swing doors to be used within a building to protect data and assets from fire. However, the problem with these kinds of installations is that once the door is open anyone can pass through it by tailgating the person in front – and there is even the temptation for that person to hold the door open for them. So, although security doors are robust and can meet the required fire regulations, it relies on only authorised users entering. A number of specifiers have approached us because they were looking for a more secure, airlock, physical entry barrier that would also provide resistance to fire from both directions. When valid credentials are presented our Security Portals enable single person transit and include APD technology (Anti Piggy-Backing Device) to prevent tailgating. The APD scans the inside of the portal with an ultrasonic sensor and is combined with a two zone pressure mat to ensure that only one person has entered. If more than one person is present within the portal, an alarm is triggered and the transit is denied.

Having this level of security in place means that combining it with a fire rating would meet the requirements for a safe and secure physical entry barrier and remove the need for a fire curtain. Anywhere that there is a requirement to protect electronic or physical data records from fire and criminals requires an integrated physical security and fire rated approach. That includes public R&D suites, record offices, IT rooms, laboratories or research facilities, and as a result, many of the units now available can be easily retrofitted, which is helped by the fact that they are stand-alone units.

Where there is a requirement for a pay-as-you-go office space, Speed Gates and Security Portals are available that can be integrated with, and operated using coin, contactless card or NFC payment terminals. This enables your client to operate on either a membership basis or on a pay-as-you go charge to use the facilities, day or night, ensuring only paid users and authorised personnel have access.

Speed Gates are available that have been specifically designed for pay-to-access facilities and can operate by membership ID card or payment terminal. Access to the Speed Gate cabinet and coin box is controlled by separate locks, ensuring only authorised personnel can access either compartment. Having the ability to take revenue without the requirement for a manned reception facilitates extended operating hours.

Both Security Portals and Speeds Gates can be integrated with a wide range of access control devices such as facial recognition, card readers, biometric identification, barcode scanners, people counters or ID cards.

About Sarah OBeirne

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