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One Key to Rule Them All

How mobile access is the foundation for a building’s tech stack

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Just like how a store is designed to impact the mood of shoppers as they browse, a person’s first impression of a building can set the stage for how they perceive a property, an office suite, or a business. A clunky entry process sets the tone and expectations for what will follow. If a plastic access card doesn’t open doors or the entry intercom audio reception sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown, the visitor may prefer to leave altogether rather than just hope the experience will improve. 

Fortunately, most of us would trust our mobile phone to call someone inside to let us in. Smartphones have become our personal assistant for almost anything we need so why not workplace access? Building operators should take advantage of their ubiquitous presence and powerful technology to adopt them for mobile access control—not just for secure entry, but for all the additional user experiences they can enable.     

The front door to a building has a bigger impact on occupants than someone may initially think. The entry experience is a gateway to a much larger network of places, systems, and people. It is a prime opportunity for a landlord to create that positive first impression, to engage with a tenant, or for a tenant to welcome a visiting customer. If the interaction goes poorly, relationships could suffer. 

Ironically, this access experience is an afterthought for many offices and properties until it doesn’t work. Then it’s a crisis.  “If you think about things that must work in real estate, access control has to work. People have zero tolerance of being locked out of their office,” explained Haniel Lynn, CEO of Kastle Systems, a cloud-based access control technology and managed services company. Any property manager can tell you that access control is not a simple task to take for granted. Onboarding and offboarding tenants and purging old key cards can be a time-consuming process. Fortunately, the data capabilities of a smartphone can automate these processes and reduce the risk of error. 

A mindset for more

What’s holding buildings back from upgrading their access experience to mobile? “The first obstacle is the mindset,” continued Lynn. “People buy systems to solve a problem they have now, not for problems or opportunities they might have in the future.” It is easier to replace something you know with another thing just like it rather than rethink or re-learn the whole process. History tells us that for progress to occur, the status quo must change. For example, Henry Ford’s assembly line from 1913 cut down the time it took to build a car from twelve hours to ninety-three minutes. It had the same output, but it was manufactured in a very different and much more efficient way. 

Additionally, upgrading from traditional entry systems to mobile access is aligned with what people expect in the modern world. Users carry a powerful communication and data entry device with them all the time. These cell phones are far less likely to be shared or lost than a plastic access credential. When the access credential is essentially a hand-held computer, the possibilities for deeper engagement between the occupant and the property are immense and can drive experiential value. This can include building systems, workspace, parking, co-workers, employer, amenities, and beyond.

The problem is that for too long, access control was seen as a utility, as something that already is all that it can be.

The problem is that for too long, access control was seen as a utility, as something that already is all that it can be. Mobile access into a building can do more than just streamline the entry experience, it can provide insight and performance potential to the user. Instead of merely knowing how many people have entered a space, mobile access can reveal what days of the week and times of the day occupants are using or not using space. It can also reveal which fellow staff members are in the office or what the occupancy in the lunchroom is. With mobile access, administrators like HR staff are empowered to grant variable access privileges to each individual user dynamically. This can help maintain a safe workplace by integrating health screening functions into the access app so that access is denied if a person presents symptoms of illness. 

The growth of the hybrid work environment has changed the role of what’s expected from buildings. Offices have an unpredictable flow of people between desks, rooms, and shared spaces as well as a flexible timeline of occupancy. Office managers need to know how a space is used so they can optimize the layout or enable users to reserve spaces for when they plan to be in the office. 

Workers are not only coming into the office outside of the 9-5 schedule, but they may be visiting offsite locations or satellite offices. This means that managers must optimize the access experience for users across an interconnected ecosystem of buildings instead of just one property. “Every building, even within the same portfolio, has historically chosen their own systems so that you’re walking into a mix of different technologies that you have to make work together in order to provide a consistent experience,” said Lynn. “Cloud-based mobile access enables advanced providers like Kastle, with open technology applications, to configure the same access credential to work seamlessly across disparate buildings without replacing all of the legacy infrastructure.”

Personal assistants or phones?

In today’s complex workplace of interconnected IoT, cyber security, smart buildings, and hybrid scheduling, managers are looking for controlled flexibility. One constant in this world of variables is that an individual is likely always carrying and using their mobile phone.

Adopting mobile access just makes sense as a strategic move for what’s next in property operations. By connecting building systems to a ubiquitous and individualized platform, building operators are not just improving a utility, but they’re creating a whole new experience. This type of amenity becomes a reason to choose one property over another as they seek to modernize their space and to enable new functionality that delights users via easy software upgrades. Today’s buildings need to stay competitive if they want to avoid vacancies and occupants demand a positive experience with room to grow. First impressions set the stage for what’s next. Buildings that choose to go mobile can offer more in-demand amenities that connect technologies within a building and across buildings. Done seamlessly through one credential, it’s not an ugly plastic card attached to a lanyard. The powerful access credential is already in everyone’s pocket or bag in the form of a mobile phone. Mobile access is the essential upgrade for the modern office workplace experience.

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