ISJ Exclusive: Going back to the office in a post-COVID world


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IDL’s Tony Smith details three security and safety considerations when subletting office space in a post-COVID world.

The spread of Coronavirus resulted in the closure of workspaces around the world, with many industries having to rapidly adapt to employees working from home.

With lockdown restrictions easing, whilst many businesses are now looking for ways to ensure the safe return of their workforce, some companies – like Twitter – have announced that employees who are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home can do so ‘forever’. Consequently, their office may now prove superfluous and they, along with many other organisations, might now be looking to reduce the space they occupy.

Larger companies subletting their office space could be a great opportunity for smaller businesses which have previously only been able to afford an office on the outskirts of town, to claim a more central and prestigious postcode. But, before you start looking for a new space to sublet and jump into a contract, Tony Smith, Major Accounts and Marketing Manager at Integrated Design Limited suggests you consider the possible security and safety implications of sharing an office.

Pitfalls of an inherited entrance security system

When you sublet a space, you will be expected to take the space as is and wanting to make any serious modifications will likely cost you a fair bit. This leaves you at the mercy of your landlord’s existing security systems.

There are a few things to look out for:

Outdated technology

Entry requirements change, new risks are presented and technologies evolve. Consider whether the installed system is still suitable and fit for purpose.

Poor user experience can lead to intentional breaches

Does the building have an outdated and clunky entrance control system? Security guards might be tempted to let users through access-controlled points to save queues forming at peak times, meaning you can’t keep track of who is in the building at any given time. When carrying out site visits to replace existing competitor turnstiles, I’ve seen this happen in office lobbies first-hand. What’s the potential cost to your business if an unauthorised user with harmful intent gains access unnoticed?

You might be stuck with an inherited entrance control system in the main lobby, but there is one simple and unobtrusive way you can secure your own internal doorways to ensure only authorised personnel from your company, or approved visitors, are granted access to your specific areas.

Managing access to your own space

Monitoring the throughput of access-controlled doorways, corridors and passageways, Door Detective Plus prevents tailgating and ensures that the ‘one person one access’ rule is met, monitoring the number of people passing through an access-controlled doorway.

Using multiple infrared beams from enclosures mounted near the door frames, Door Detective Plus accurately monitors movement in both directions each time a person presents electronic credentials to pass through the doorway. Alarms identify violations to alert staff and our Fastlane technology minimises false alarms so you can be confident that only authorised visits are being made.

Easy to use, this additional level of security and detection helps to prevent both unauthorised entrants and tailgating, giving you the reassurance that only authorised visits are being made to these areas and that any sensitive information will not be compromised through a physical breach.

Door Detective Plus can be used as a standalone system, which you can control separately to the building’s main access control system, or it can be seamlessly integrated into existing building management, access control and CCTV systems.

Responsibilities in the face of COVID-19

It is no longer just security and managing authorised entries you need to be concerned with, however. As people gradually return to the workplace following the Coronavirus pandemic, you will also need to prepare your office space to be reoccupied within the limits set by social distancing guidelines. And it’s not ok to just assume that the building owner has everything covered for you.

As an employer, you are legally required to comply with health and safety legislation and any coronavirus-specific legislation, or regulations set by the government and you need to be able to demonstrate that you have done all you can to reasonably minimise health and safety risks, considering each worker’s ability to physically return to work, as well as adapting the workplace itself, even if you sublet a space.

One key concern is putting systems and processes in place to ensure social distancing guidelines are respected. Social distancing requirements mean there will be limits on the number of people in a space at any one time and you will need to assess how the space is used to optimise flow and avoid bottlenecks.

When integrated with Fastlane’s Multilane Controller, Door Detective Plus can help you abide by COVID-secure best practice in two key areas:

Managing office occupation limits

The system can be set up with a total population threshold and told which of the doorways contribute to this count. Once the threshold is reached, the display turns red and bleeps several times as a warning, locking and preventing any further entries until the threshold reduces below the set limit. The system offers a solution to the challenge of having too many people in one area at any one time.

Detecting pedestrian one-way system violations

Controlling the way people move within a building is one way to maintain social distancing. Many offices have already implemented one-way systems, which avoids people having to pass too closely along a corridor. Able to detect direction of travel, Door Detective Plus offers an effective way to ensure the one-way rules are adhered to, by sounding an alarm when there is a violation.

If you are about to sublet an office space and want to explore your security options, please get in touch with the team at Integrated Design Limited by calling +44 (0)208 890 5550 or emailing [email protected].

This article was published in the September 2020 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital copy here

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