A recent survey compared how employees, tenants, property owners and managers, and developers feel about returning to the workplace, and what would make them feel safer. Among the responses from employees and tenants, 63% don’t feel comfortable returning to work, and cited their own health and safety, as well as the safety of their loved ones, as the main cause for concern. However, 73% of business owners said they plan on reopening as soon as possible, within 2-4 weeks. How can we fix the disconnect, and ensure that property owners are creating safer, healthier workspaces for returning tenants? 

With the right tools and strategies in place, businesses can return to work with confidence. As it turns out, decision makers are prepared to budget for safety precautions as well; whether it’s providing PPE for employees, or upgrading building systems, 51% of owners are increasing their security and safety spend in response to the pandemic. Innovative technology is helping businesses find ways to accommodate new health guidelines, as well as give tenants peace of mind as they return to the workplace. 

Tenant and employee concerns

79% of people saying they’d be more willing to return to work with reduced occupancy

In addressing top tenant and employee concerns, many businesses are pivoting to staggered work schedules. This is a good starting point for accommodating the CDC workplace guidelines for social distancing, as it helps minimize the number of people in the building. In fact, social distancing was the top-requested safety update requested by employees and tenants, with 79% of people saying they’d be more willing to return to work with reduced occupancy. 

However, with 80% of businesses maintaining or decreasing their current building size, minimizing the number of people at work can be challenging, especially if you’re managing your facility remotely. Occupancy management tools, such as density counters, people sensors, and presence reporting data, can help administrators track who is at the building and when. Plus, with more data at your disposal, you can make informed decisions about space utilization throughout the building, whether to reopen amenities like gyms and cafeterias, and adjust work schedules to accommodate capacity thresholds. To further streamline the process, you can enforce capacity thresholds by connecting occupancy tools to your access control system. Associating work schedules with access credentials ensures that only those scheduled for the day will be able to enter the space.

Accessing the workplace

Which brings us to the next piece of the return-to-work puzzle: how people are accessing the workplace. “The reality is that people don’t want to touch things anymore; it’s just too stressful,” says Openpath President James Segil, “Removing the communal touch points is key to making people feel safer, which is why you’ll see so many tech companies pivoting to touchless capabilities.” And yet, only 25% of decision makers have implemented touchless solutions.

Mobile credentials were already growing in popularity for their convenience and ease of use prior to the pandemic. In fact, 62% of survey respondents would prefer to use their phone to enter the workplace. Now, touchless access control options can also eliminate the need to touch a common reader or door handle. Plus, with a cloud-based access control solution, all those mobile credentials are managed remotely, which helps accommodate a remote workforce and eliminates the need to meet in person to issue a badge. When even opening the front door induces anxiety, touchless access makes it one less thing to worry about. 

Healthcare questionnaires

In addition to limiting who has access to the building, many businesses are now requiring employees and visitors to complete health questionnaires prior to coming into the workplace. Take the burden off your administrative staff by using tenant and visitor platforms like Envoy Protect, which offer digital access requests, check-in, and amenity reservations. Using a mobile platform to create, distribute, and manage health questionnaires is a smart way to streamline your operations, plus it gives you more visibility into who is in your building and when.

45% of commercial landlords and business owners admit security is one of the biggest challenges

During the pandemic, 45% of commercial landlords and business owners admit security is one of the biggest challenges they’re facing. Approach technology updates with a smart strategy to maximize the safety and security benefits: start with the most impactful areas first, such as the front door. A mobile access control solution like Openpath that offers built-in occupancy tracking capabilities can help automate and enforce social distancing measures while still ensuring the security of your space. As a best practice, open systems allow for seamless integrations to strengthen your security. For example, integrating Cisco Meraki’s video surveillance platform with access control enables remote security management by associating real-time footage with access events. 

Prioritising safety and security is key to addressing the concerns of returning tenants and employees as workplaces reopen. Because business owners are faced with tough decisions on which updates will prove to be sound investments, it’s important to consider technology that does more than solve immediate problems. Future-proof systems enable safer reopening now, and are also primed to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Integrated proptech tools are allowing businesses to make smarter decisions and create safer, healthier workspaces for the post-pandemic world.

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