Increase Access Control Safety for Coworking Spaces

Coworking spaces are smart workplaces where individuals or teams with diverse specialties work independently or collaboratively in a shared workspace. In 2019, there were 30,000 coworking spaces around the world; and their number was projected to reach around 50,000 by the year 2022. But the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

If you own or manage a coworking space, you may be trying to visualize how your business will change after the lockdown ends. What adjustments are necessary to ensure that your business keeps going and growing? How do you implement the Covid-19 directions while still maintaining (or even enhancing) flexibility, safety, and convenience for your customers?

Access Control at Coworking Spaces

By their very definition, coworking offices must be flexible as people would like to come and go according to their own schedules. The access control system plays a major role in deciding the level of security and convenience that a shared workspace provides its users.

Most of us were using key card based access control before the pandemic. Key cards are simple to use and easy to hack. You can clone almost any key card in under a minute by using a cheap key card duplicator, so they can be a big security risk at large coworking spaces. Imagine a tenant making copies of the key card and handing them out to unauthorized people. Key cards can also be lost or stolen and create unnecessary workload for security teams.

Despite their limitations, key cards remained almost the only form of access control for modern offices until smartphone access arrived. In 2017, the research firm Gartner predicted 20% of companies using traditional key card access would dump it for smartphone access by the year 2020.

Smartphone access allows users to unlock doors using a mobile app. Electronic locks are connected to the app through your local network or through cloud servers. Cloud based access control systems are fully managed by the solution provider. The security team can manage access control via desktop and mobile interfaces.

Smartphone access offers more convenience and better security than key card access. For example, admin can enroll users by sending out messages or emails and requesting them to activate access at the door terminal. After that they can unlock doors and access the authorized workspace by just waving their phone at the door terminal. No copied, lost, or stolen key cards; no unnecessary workload for enrolling and deactivating users; problem solved.

The only thing going against smartphone access is there’s no way to enter the coworking space if your phone has a dead battery. And the risk of tailgating still remains, which is a rather serious disadvantage.

The Access Control System for the Future

Facial recognition access control entered the market shortly before the Covid-19 shook the world. Face recognition is driven by the advancements in machine vision, artificial intelligence and IoT technologies. The system allows users to unlock doors and enter the workplace just by looking at the face reader device. The security team knows exactly who is entering the workplace in real time and can easily enroll or remove users instantly using simple dashboards.

The system is completely managed through the cloud and can be scaled to control access at multiple locations from a single interface. AI based computer vision works in tandem with smartphone access control, making it possible to implement effective two-factor authentication for designated areas, such as the meeting room or conference hall. Depending on the system you’re using, you can control multiple levels of access, set timings for the access, create user groups, lock or unlock doors remotely, and manage access from anywhere via mobile.

Face recognition based access control is a completely touchless system, which makes it suitable for the post-COVID-19 workplace. You can enroll users remotely by just asking them to snap a photo of their face using the system’s mobile app. Face recognition access control can also work as a video intercom and video surveillance system for no added cost.

The ongoing pandemic has only fueled the growth of face recognition technology because of the new workplace restrictions likely to be in place post lockdown. The new normal for all workplaces includes reducing the use of common touch surfaces such as pin pads and key cards; and implementing isolation and lockdown procedures for occupants who have the symptoms or test positive for Covid-19. With some modifications, face recognition can help identify people who have the symptoms and their close contacts.

Access Control Tips for Shared Workplaces

Here are some access control tips to help your coworking space survive and be ready to welcome people back to work post Covid.

  1. Prepare a comprehensive physical access control policy that aligns with the new normal for common touch surfaces and spells out the directions for suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus
  2. Incorporate a system of regular monitoring of the people entering the workplace using CCTV camera feed or face reading data securely streamed to the admin dashboard
  3. Carry out training activities and mock drills to refresh the knowledge and ability of the security team in handling security disasters and COVID related contingencies
  4. Implement multilevel access control with touchless entry to allow and restrict access to different areas of the shared office
  5. Integrate infrared scanners with face recognition access control to monitor the body temperature of the people accessing the coworking space
  6. Implement two-factor authentication for sensitive or shared areas such as the server room, conference room, lunch room, etc
  7. Reduce face-to-face contact by enrolling users remotely and by using video intercom to allow visitors to speak to the front desk personnel.

Ajay Deep

Ajay Deep is the brain behind Coworking Mag. He founded this website to help startups and aspiring entrepreneurs find a coworking space in their city. He is a successful entrepreneur who started and scaled a bunch of startups – all from shared office spaces. He has visited hundreds of coworking spaces in different countries and is now an investor in this evergrowing idea of developing new coworking spaces. You may reach Ajay Deep at hello@coworkingmag.com