Most American workers feel unsafe working outside their homes and are concerned the pandemic situation is going to get worse. Until treatment becomes available and we know more about how to stop the deadly virus from spreading, businesses remain prone to the risk of outbreaks, absenteeism, low motivation levels, and consequently, low productivity.
If the economy is to bounce back to the pre-pandemic growth rate, workplace safety and security will have to be rethought, revamped, and ramped up. Workplaces would need to adapt the general guidelines and directions provided by WHO, CDC, and other authorities to their specific business environments; and implement the preventive measures to protect their workers and the society from the menace of infection.
A physical access control system can play a major role in enforcing the new regulations and making the workplace safe and secure for everyone. Let’s take a closer look at how COVID-19 has impacted workplace security and the type of access control system office buildings need to effectively battle the crisis.
How COVID-19 Is Impacting Security
Offices and closed workspaces are at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks. Health authorities have made employers responsible for stopping or slowing down the transmission of the coronavirus from their offices by executing the following guidelines.
Social distancing: An interpersonal distance of 6 feet (or 2 meters) should be maintained between employees and customers at all times during work.
Remote Working: Employees should be enabled and encouraged to work from home.
Health and Hygiene: The following steps are recommended to maintain healthier workplaces:
- Frequent cleaning and disinfecting routines should be established.
- Use of shared common touch surfaces such as office access keypads or fingerprint scanners should be avoided.
- Employers should ensure that the workplace is adequately ventilated and workers are using suitable PPE or wearing masks, as required
Frequent hand washing: Employers are responsible for the placement of hand sanitizer dispensers and provision of hand washing areas.
Active health monitoring: The latest CDC guidelines make employers responsible for conducting daily health checks and screening all employees for fever and other symptoms of COVID-19 before they enter the workplace.
Hazard Elimination: A hazard assessment of the workplace should be conducted to identify work processes and workplace areas that can lead to the transmission of the coronavirus. After the hazards are identified, they should be removed or reduced using the appropriate combination of engineering control, admin control, and PPE.
Contingency Procedures: Devising contingency plans and isolation or quarantine procedures to thwart the risk of an outbreak.
Why Outdated Access Control Won’t Work
Physical access control can help execute most of the new workplace security and safety protocols—and we don’t mean legacy access control systems such as keycards, fobs, biometric fingerprint scanners, and PIN pads.
These systems are still in use at many workplaces, but their limitations make them unsuitable for the post-COVID-19 workplace. Some of the risks associated with outdated access control methods are as follows:
- Germs can stick to plastic keycards and get passed around
- Keycards are easy to copy and are a looming security risk
- FOBs and key cards cannot be issued or revoked without visiting the workplace
- It might be a problem to grant access to disinfection crews when the office is locked down
- There’s no way to update door schedules and working hours
- Security systems hosted on local servers cannot be accessed remotely
- The coronavirus can remain viable for several hours on door handles, contact based biometric scanners and pin pads
Pre-pandemic access control systems were already on their way out after the introduction of smartphone access and later on, face-recognition based access control systems. COVID-19 has accelerated the demise of old systems and the adoption of face-recognition and smartphone access control.
Modern Access Control Systems and Workplace Security
These modern access control methods can enable employers to create and manage safer workplaces by helping implement COVID-19 related regulations and monitoring the security measures remotely, without having on-site security crews. Here are some of the ways modern access control can help improve workplace security.
Implement Social Distancing
Using a video surveillance system, security teams can monitor the workplace in the moment and find out if people are maintaining 6 feet distance when entering the workplace or during work. Swiftlane’s face recognition access control system can also be used for video surveillance of high risk areas identified during hazard assessment. Face recognition access control also works as a video intercom to let the front desk employees speak remotely to visitors.
Modern access control is powered by artificial intelligence, which makes it highly customizable. The system can be programmed to sound alerts or make announcements when social distancing minima are breached.
Remote Security Management
Modern access control systems are cloud managed, which means you can grant or revoke permissions, modify accessibility schedules, and change permission levels from anywhere, anytime. So, if you came to know on a Sunday afternoon that an important delegation is arriving the next morning, you can preauthorize the delegates for entry sitting at home, through your mobile. The system eliminates dependence on physical or face to face interactions for issuing keycards or fobs.
Workplace security risks can arise as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks as well as people’s psychological and financial condition. Using cloud based access control, security teams can instantly lock or unlock any particular door or section of the building to deal with a safety or security threats. The security team can revoke permissions for laid off or sick employees the moment a request is received from the HR.
Touchless Door Unlock
People returning to work are likely to avoid using common touch surfaces such as keypads, touchscreens, or fingerprint scanners. Face recognition access control allows users to unlock the door by just looking at the face reader. Replacement of legacy access control methods with Swiftlane’s touchless access control is the perfect example of applying engineering controls to make the workplace safer to access and enter.
Scalability and Standardization
Thanks to cloud computing, Swiftlane and other remote access managed systems can be extended to multiple locations without trouble. The hardware needs a minimal amount of LV cabling to install and can be up and running in a day at most locations. Authorization, revocation, and modification across all locations can be managed from a single mobile or desktop interface. The system allows enterprises to create and enforce standardized security and access control policies across territories, countries, and regions.
Server rooms, quarantine rooms, PPE storage, and other sensitive areas of the workplace may require additional security, which can be enabled by activating two-factor authentication. Smartphone-only access control systems rely on users’ smartphone cameras and fingerprint scanners to implement two-factor authentication. Next generation face recognition access control systems such as Swiftlane also feature smartphone unlock and offer more robust dual authentication based on face and mobile credentials.
Swiftlane Health Check
During the lockdown, the Swiftlane security teams have been busy wrapping their arms around the huge shift in the workplace security scenario. Our developers and engineers have been working to translate the new normal into practicable access control solutions for post-COVID-19 workplaces. We have created a health and safety module that uses face recognition and smartphone access control to help enforce many of the new regulations.
Swiftlane Health Check provides tools for safe return to work by implementing temperature checks, capacity planning, staggered schedules, and health announcements.
- Employees can self test for fever and report COVID-related symptoms through a health survey before coming into the office
- HR and security teams can plan and enforce capacity limits to maintain social distancing; and can create, communicate, and implement staggered schedules for remote or shift working
- Security teams can make announcements to issue critical security updates for employees and manage the inventory and distribution of PPE
The Way Forward
The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history and claimed at least 50 million lives worldwide. Those were the times when workers didn’t have access to modern health facilities and workplaces used metallic locks and keys for access control. Today, medical science has come a long way and so has access control technology. Modern access control systems, in particular smartphone and face recognition, can prove extremely effective in checking the spread of infections and enforcing COVID-19 related workplace security regulations.
Swiftlane combines the features of both and adds a custom-built health module to make return to work safer and easier for all. Contact our team to learn more about returning to work and installing a COVID-19 safe workplace security and access control system.