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Managing Satellite Office Security in the New Work Environment

The growth of hybrid work is causing a drastic increase in satellite office expansion and hub-and-spoke work models. As companies adopt the remote-first environment, they need to implement new physical security practices and systems to support flexible operation in order to maintain a high level of business security.

Below are the key trends perpetuating the growth of satellite offices, the tools needed to manage satellite office security at scale, and the solutions that companies are using to overcome their remote physical security challenges.

Reasons For Satellite Office Growth

1. Increasing Flexibility With Remote Work Policies

The COVID pandemic has forced more employees to work from home than ever before, which has opened the floor to discuss employee productivity in and outside the office. 

It’s been proven that remote teams are more productive overall. They feel more productive and their performance confirms that. According to the IWG Global Workplace Study, 85% of businesses have increased their productivity as a result of greater remote work flexibility. 

As a result, companies are increasing flexibility with their remote work policies. A recent survey found that 20% of employees who have been forced to work remotely will remain remote full-time after offices have re-opened. Another third of the current remote workforce will remain remote on a part-time basis.

Employees are capitalizing on this opportunity to move away from the expensive, crowded cities that their offices are headquartered in. But, as employees move away from these cities, companies are still thinking about how to provide them access to office space.

While working from home is proven to foster more productivity, companies still want (and frankly, need) to provide employees a space to interact face to face for a few reasons: 

  • Create and promote a company culture
  • Some tasks still require in-person collaboration 
  • Employees still like the option to go into an office

The hub-and-spoke model refers to a collection of remote office locations that surround a primary corporate headquarter office. These dispersed office locations are established to service the remote workforce in a sub-region of the company headquarters. 

With increased flexibility of remote work policies allowing employees to move away from major company headquarter locations, but the need to maintain accessible office space, the hub-and-spoke model is becoming a popular common practice

2. Balancing Urban Headquarter Office With Remote Work Lifestyle

Location strategy is highly important to corporations. Large, urban cities like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco host the majority of large companies because of the talent they can attract. In theory, it would make sense for companies to move to areas that are highly desirable for their employees to live. But, in practice, this puts companies at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting talented candidates and employees. 

So, in their best interest, corporations need to retain their corporate offices in urban cities. With that said, the cost of living is expensive for employees and urban living is not always the most desirable. 

Because employees are spreading out over more locations as they continue to work from home, companies are increasing their number of satellite office locations. 

3. The Flex Work Revolution is Prompting Employees to Move to Other Cities

Without concerns due to COVID, 29% of employees surveyed said that they would like to work remotely 5 days per week, or full-time. Over half of those employees would like to work remotely 3 days a week or more. 

Because of the opportunities afforded by remote work, more people are moving to different cities. Families have the flexibility to move out of expensive cities and buy houses in surrounding towns that are more family-friendly. Likewise, young adults are moving away from urban areas to decrease their cost of living. 

Overall, it’s estimated that between 14 million and 23 million employees are planning on relocating with the newfound opportunity to work remotely. 

To retain employees, attract talented ones, and to align with the behaviors resulting from flex work opportunities, companies will be increasing and expanding their remote, satellite, and coworking office locations. 

Managing Security At Scale In Satellite Offices

Satellite and remote office locations are growing in popularity and necessity. As they do so, offices need to prepare to scale their security in an efficient and cost-effective way. Below is how they can and should manage the scale of their office security practices. 

Consistency with Access Control

When different office locations use different access control systems, as they often do, it becomes harder and harder to manage access. 

The systems operate independently of one another instead of company-wide. This means that each office location has its own database of users. Only the employees that regularly work at a particular office location are authorized access. If another employee is visiting from another office, they will need to be manually added to the access control system, even though they have full access to their home office with the same company. 

Also, every system operates differently, so different technical training will be needed depending on the access system that is used at each location. This becomes expensive, and it’s impossible to distinguish which employee knows how to work which system. 

Finally, each office location needs different hardware, wiring, software, and software licensing. This is also expensive and nearly impossible to scale. 

As companies scale their security to include more remote and satellite office locations, it’s apparent that consistency in access control systems is essential. Using the same access control system across all offices allows companies to have a single database of employee users and their specific credentials. This makes operations more efficient and streamlines access for employees, managers, and other office visitors should they need to travel from location to location. 

Ability to Easily Generate Visitor Passes

Satellite and flex work spaces have new and recurring visitors coming in and out of the office every day. This is a major problem that headquarter offices do not have to deal with nearly as much. 

Every morning, someone — such as an office admin — needs to review the list of visitors coming in for the day and manually grant them access, even if it is just a visiting employee within the same company. This means programming key cards and fobs or generating PIN codes and coordinating a schedule to distribute these forms of access to each visitor. 

This is incredibly time-consuming and inefficient, and there is plenty of room for error. Each office needs someone with the ability to manage the access control credentials for the day. If they don’t, offices have no way to grant access to new visitors, which causes confusion for and risks compromising security. 

As companies begin to grow their satellite office locations and flex workspaces, it will be critical for office and facility managers to find a solution that allows their office to easily generate visitor passes and manage them on a day to day basis at scale. 

Manage Physical Security Remotely

As offices scale their number of satellite locations, it will be important for facility and office managers to have the ability to manage physical security — such as access control credentials and visitor passes — remotely. 

On-site security systems are not a strategic way to scale security across different office locations at a company. Managers who oversee multiple locations cannot afford to go back and forth, constantly making changes and updates to access systems on a location-by-location basis. 

Even if a satellite office has a designated manager that only oversees that particular location, they will need the convenience and flexibility afforded by remote management. The growth of flex scheduling can never truly guarantee that someone will be present at the office to accommodate a visitor, client, or delivery. When that is the case, office and facility managers need to be able to grant access from anywhere. This could mean quickly and easily sending a temporary PIN code to a visiting employee or receiving a video intercom call for a delivery and remotely unlocking the office door. 

With a cloud-based security system, one person is able to manage the physical security, including access credentials for employees and visitor management, for several office locations without needing to be on-site. This is an incredibly efficient and cost-effective way to scale security as companies prepare to increase the number of satellite and remote office locations. 

Office Security Trends During COVID

Staggered Scheduling Causing Gaps in Facility Staffing

Offices are taking precautions due to COVID, which include staggering employee schedules. While this keeps in-person capacity low, this also means that certain employees are less accessible. 

Offices rely on facility and security teams to run physical security throughout the building, including updating access credentials, generating new users, and visitor management operations. Limited access or communication with these teams leave gaps in the physical security of the office. 

Facility Teams Are Growing Due to Overhead From Running COVID Operations

COVID-19 is consuming a lot of facility team time, including scheduling additional cleaning, ensuring health standards within the building, maintaining capacity limits, providing touchless and contactless solutions, and more. 

With so much extra work on top of their regular responsibilities, facility teams are getting bigger. And with the growth of facility teams, building security needs to be more efficient than ever. This means that training new employees on how the system works should be easy and intuitive. Building security systems should also be able to be managed remotely as team members are busy throughout the facility during the day.  

How Swiftlane Solves Challenges With Satellite Offices

1. Decrease Overhead In Each Office Location With Remote Management

Each satellite office location needs its own local security and/or front desk team to manage employee access, visitors, clients, and deliveries. While it seems like a minor task, it’s an incredibly important responsibility that offices must find a way to manage. Establishing a security or front desk team for each satellite office location means the training, employment, and management of several employees. This is a big operating cost that becomes very expensive to scale. 

Swiftlane Office Intercom and Access Control allows just a single person to handle employee access, visitors, and deliveries for any number of locations. Swiftlane Video Intercom calls can be answered remotely via mobile app, telephone, or web-based browser. The intercom call recipient can then unlock the office door remotely for any number of doors or locations. 

A single person can also remotely manage employee access credentials for any number of satellite office locations under one platform. This means that updates or changes to user profiles or employee access credentials do not need to be made on-site. Everything can be managed under Swiftlane’s cloud-based dashboard, so no one has to travel from office to office just to manage access. This is incredibly important for offices to have the ability to do as they scale their number of satellite office locations. 

2. Works With Every Type Of Building 

Managing the security of satellite office buildings is challenging because each satellite office location is different. A company could have an office located in a small, standalone space or occupy several floors of a commercial, high-rise building. Some may require employees to use a fob to get through a parking gate and into a parking garage or use a separate key card to get up the elevator. 

Because satellite office spaces vary so much, it’s incredibly challenging for companies to remain consistent with the access and security systems they use even though having a consistent access control strategy company-wide is the easiest and most cost-effective way to scale business. 

Swiftlane is a highly flexible solution that is designed to work with every office and building. Swiftlane is capable of being installed outside any office door and with any existing door lock. This minimizes the amount of custom build, and ensures the product will work for any satellite office location. Swiftlane can be installed in a single office, in the lobby of a multi-tenant commercial building, or on a tenant floor inside a commercial building. Swiftlane can also provide a key card reader system or co-exist alongside current card systems, which minimizes the disruption of day-to-day building flow.

3. Create a Virtual Front Desk For All Satellite Office Locations

Growing and operating several satellite office locations is weighed down by the staffing requirements needed to run a front desk. 

Swiftlane allows offices to create a virtual front desk that can be managed remotely by a single person. This way, each satellite office location does not have to worry about employing front desk staff for each location. A single admin can manage the virtual front desk across multiple offices. 

4. Manage Visitors and Deliveries with Multi-Tenant Intercom

Headquarter offices do not have a problem managing the front desk as they typically have several dedicated hospitality staff working at once to manage visitors and deliveries. There is always someone on staff regardless if someone is away or on lunch. In much smaller satellite office locations, there is no one to cover these responsibilities should the front desk staff or receptionist be away from his or her desk. 

Swiftlane intercom calls can be received from any mobile device that way reception can answer the door even if they are away. Multi-tenant intercom calls can also be made directly to employees if the visitor is for them. Office managers or other admins can manage visitors from anywhere and remotely unlock the door for visitors even if they are off-site. Swiftlane grants small satellite offices the same luxury that large headquarter offices have by giving them an alternative or backup plan for managing visitors and deliveries if front desk staff is away. 

5. Easily Manage Traveling Employees With Mobile Access

Satellite offices often have employees visiting from other office locations. Travelling employees need access to the office like any other employee, but it requires much more planning. Either a key card needs to be programmed especially for the visiting employee and given out ahead of time or else the employee needs to be let in by someone in the office upon arrival. This is not a smooth process for the person visiting the office and can become a huge pain point for those that travel often from office to office. 

With Swiftlane, companies can manage all of their employees under a single platform. This means that mobile access can easily be given to travelling employees for seamless access to authorized satellite locations every time. This does not require any additional planning or overhead from the front desk or reception staff. 

6. Manage Forgotten Key Card and ID Badges

Employees frequently forget their key card and ID badges. Although it does take time, headquarter offices and large office buildings do not have a lot of trouble finding someone to program and distribute a temporary badge. In satellite office locations, however, this is not always the case. These locations are smaller and there may not always be someone on-site with the knowledge or capability to issue a temporary badge. 

Swiftlane uses mobile and face recognition access so that employees do not need to worry about forgetting their key card. Even in the event that they forget their mobile phone and do not use face recognition access (which is optional), they can easily use the video intercom calling to initially be granted access to the building. After that, a Swiftlane admin can easily generate a  temporary PIN code for the employee to be used for access throughout the day. 

7. Minimize Unnecessary Hardware And Software Expenses

Each satellite office needs its own access control system and software. Right now, the majority of satellite offices have outdated systems that are independent of one another and cannot be centrally managed. This is a major pain point for companies who operate dozens of offices. Each individual user needs to be added manually at each location. It’s nearly impossible to understand access and physical security trends. Different employees need different types of training depending on the system their specific satellite office is using. And so on. These expenses add up quickly. 

Using Swiftlane’s cloud-based software across every location allows offices to efficiently operate security while using fewer resources. Companies can use Swiftlane to manage all users and office locations under one platform. The intuitive dashboard requires little to no training, though users have the option to access the complete training platform via the Swiftlane Learning Center

8. Improve Efficiency With Consistency Across All Satellite Offices

As we mentioned above, each individual satellite office has its own access control system with its own database of users. The problem that companies run into is maintaining consistency company-wide in order to remain as efficient as possible. 

Different types or even brands of systems at different office locations cause confusion for visiting employees, management, and transferable staff. Moreso, each access system needs to have each user manually programmed at each separate location. This means that an employee from one office does not have access to any other satellite office location although they are an employee of the company and should have authorized access. 

The process of manually adding each user several times across all locations and making sure they have access to different offices when they need it is a time-consuming process.

Swiftlane ensures company-wide consistency of physical security and access. All users exist in Swiftlane’s cloud-based dashboard. And all locations are managed within the same intuitive platform. It’s easy to assign users to different satellite office or headquarter locations because credentials are managed remotely instead of on-site at each physical location. 

Having a single database of users from which access can be assigned, revoked, and managed easily and remotely is essential for scaling business and efficiently operating several offices and office buildings. It saves time, streamlines physical activity, and overall reduces operational overhead. 

9. Remotely Oversee All Office Activity

With siloed access control systems, it’s hard to get access to security information in a timely manner, especially if someone is off-site or needs access to other satellite office location activity. On-site security and access control systems are limited to the buildings in which they operate and the personnel that have the technological knowledge to work them.  

Swiftlane increases visibility into security insights across the organization by allowing all satellite offices to operate under one cloud-based system and allow any admin or authorized person to see activity for any office at any time with any device. Cloud-based access control systems operate off-site and are accessible from anywhere by an authorized user. This allows office or regional managers to have physical security information readily available for all locations at any time, which makes it easier to manage several locations with full knowledge of physical security activity. 

10. Manage and Operate Security Without Specialized Knowledge

Many times, satellite offices don’t have permanent security or IT staff. They have to rely on the facility staff or outsource physical security tasks from other office locations. This can often take too long as matters of physical security need to be addressed quickly – whether it’s an employee who was let go and needs their access revoked instantly or a new employee who needs new access credentials generated so that they are not locked out of the building they are authorized to be in. 

Swiftlane’s intuitive admin dashboard makes it easy for anyone to manage and operate security, not just specialized IT or facility staff. Over the air updates also ensure the most current version of software is always being used without the need to run a manual update from an IT person. 

11. Manage All Company Users Within One System

The access control systems used at different satellite office locations do not share user information between one another, even when those offices are used by the same company. This makes it very difficult to maintain a single user database of all company employees with access to the office. More so, employees visiting or transferring from other office locations have to be added to that location’s system separately, and again at every other location they will need access to, which is redundant and time-consuming. 

Swiftlane’s database stores all company users so access is transferable throughout the organization and its locations. Within the Swiftlane dashboard, an authorized admin can manage each company location, worksite, and secure door. Access credentials for any user company-wide can be managed from anywhere. 

12. Save Time By Managing Multiple Offices From Anywhere

Satellite offices are sometimes run by just one territory or regional manager but it’s impossible for them to manage access for all locations because the systems operate independently. Any updates to access credentials need to be made manually, on-site. 

Swiftlane allows managers running more than one location to manage the access of every location under one platform. Grant or revoke access remotely from anywhere. Register new users from anywhere. Update access permissions or profile information from anywhere. And so on. Without the need to visit each location to make manual access credential updates, territory and regional managers save a lot of valuable time.

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