Back in the late ’90s, I went to work for a major software company. As a technical consultant, I would regularly travel to customer locations, as well as work from a number of our own offices.
It was then that I first heard the term “hotel space” in relation to employee work areas. I had been assigned some shared space in several of our demonstration centers, but no official office or cubicle.
Shared open space – or “hoteling” – is not a new concept in the workplace. It’s important to remember that this was already occurring before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic did accelerate a shift toward more flexible workspaces, as organizations suddenly had to re-evaluate their on-site operations and how best to accommodate employees, while still following health and safety guidelines.
Continue reading and watch the video below to learn how the shift to a flexible workspace model has impacted businesses and how security solutions are helping them scale this model more efficiently and effectively.
The Shift to a Flexible Workspace Model
Over the years, I’ve had conversations with executives in facilities, real estate, security and other fields discussing how to get the most out of the investment in real estate, while still providing necessary and secure work areas for employees.
In many organizations, flexible workspaces started with people in the field – for example, sales professionals, installation and support technicians and others – who spent much more of their time out at customer sites than in the office. It really doesn’t make sense to dedicate office space for them in many cases, as these people are mobile and performing best when not in the office.
The answer was to have shared, flexible space where people could work when they were in the office, but that could be used for other purposes (or people) when they weren’t.
This development occurred in parallel with the evolution of the workforce in the U.S. We’ve moved from a largely industrial- and manufacturing-based workforce to a more technology- and computer-driven workforce.
Along with this, the barriers to prohibit remote work have all but disappeared. What were once limiting factors to a flexible workforce – portable computer equipment and communications, the cost of remote access and more – are no longer barriers in today’s world.
At the same time, many companies have realized that the old model of offices and cubicles is not an efficient use of real estate. Today, many of the world’s largest corporations have embraced a flexible workspace model.
Currently, Stanley Black & Decker is in the midst of remodeling its world headquarters, which will have more than 50% collaboration space; this will be the model for all other STANLEY offices worldwide, with a goal to get to 90% flexible workspaces in the next few years.
Scaling with Security and Efficiencies in Mind
Now, after nearly a year of many organizations operating largely remotely, executives are planning how more employees can return to the office and are looking for ways to provide flexibility, safety and reduction in costs.
How can these seemingly different goals all be met is the big question, and fortunately there are new and existing security solutions to help achieve them, including:
- Physical identity access management (PIAM) solutions
- Advanced screening solutions
- Video analytics
PIAM solutions provide web-based portals to allow employees to request access, invite visitors, manage contractors and generally automate the tasks around controlling access for any type of identity.
These solutions make it easy to host employees and visitors by providing clear instructions of where to go, what to do when arriving, what meeting is being held in a particular conference room and who to contact for help.
Advanced Screening Solutions
Advanced screening solutions help organizations automate the screening of employees and visitors for elevated body temperature and masks. These solutions have seen mass implementation at the frontline to help mitigate risks since the start of the pandemic.
They can (and should) be integrated with other security systems, such as access control. Additionally, systems like real-time location services (RTLS) help provide localized contact tracing by tracking and managing who might have been physically exposed to a risk while on your premises.
These solutions, when properly integrated, can significantly help organizations prioritize smart management of their real estate and make the flexible workspace model more efficient. For example, by using advanced screening solutions to pre-register employees or visitors to come on-site, you can better control occupancy levels and scheduling of spaces and resources.
Video analytics is another key technology that is evolving to do more in realm of the flexible workspace. From occupancy tracking – counting how many people are in an area – to tracking motion throughout the facilities, to looking for behavioral anomalies, these systems are becoming more and more the first warning sign when things are amiss.
Not only can video analytics flag anomalies, but they also greatly help with driving operational efficiencies. For example, when integrated with PIAM or advanced screening solutions, video analytics can help businesses identify how office space is being used, trends in occupancy levels, highly trafficked areas that may need attention and more.
When it comes to the flexible workspace model, video analytics power many of the efficiencies gained through the systems mentioned above.
As many organizations look to adopt a hybrid workforce approach – that combines remote work and on-site collaboration – flexible workspaces will be key to ensuring employee health and safety, while minimizing any added costs.
The big question is how to create a scalable model that limits manual tracking and maximizes efficiencies. Perhaps surprisingly for some, security solutions can help accomplish these goals with relative ease.
Learn more about how STANLEY Security can help your organization shift to a flexible workspace model by leveraging the security solutions mentioned above.