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A look at the impact of digitising access badges

If you’re working from an office, you probably have one: an access badge. The future of these plastic pieces that used to allow us to enter a building, a parking lot or call the elevator is, similar to multiple other processes in real estate, going to be digital. 

The benefits of a virtual badge are obvious - besides the fact that one’s less prone to forgetting it home, such a digitalisation streamlines the access process for remote teams, optimises manual processes for building staff, has a positive impact over the environment and more. 

Some of the world's biggest security and safety companies, such as Bosch or HID Global have already developed digital-access tools, highlighting their increasing role in the near future.

In this article, we’ll go more in depth and see the technologies available today on the market and explore how even big access control producers look for digital approaches for their products.

Where  we’re at, from a tech point of view

First of all, the technology for virtual access is in constant development. The pandemic emphasised the need for touchless access points, which led to technologies enabling biometric access - facial recognition, palm or fingerprint recognition or mobile-based access. 

SpotUs is such a solution that can be easily integrated with a building’s security systems to allow tenants to enter the space whenever they make a reservation, using one app.

Other technologies include RFID access control systems that use tags and readers to grant access. Similar to these Radio Frequency Identification Devices, NFC (Near Field Communication) also shapes the future of badges, but the difference is that the latter is a short-range technology. You’re most probably already using this technology if you have a contactless credit card, a digital wallet, a smartphone or a smartwatch that you use, for example, to pay.

In an office building, this electronic way verifies and grants access to tenants in the space and, through integrations with elevator systems, they can also go to the floors they have permission for, using just their phones. 

Benefits of virtual badges

The general work trend is hybrid, with people coming into office on a more flexible schedule. Remote work has also seen an increased rate of adoption. This means that office spaces will be used in way more different manners than ever before. More shared spaces, more common areas, less space leased for the same number of people - all of these come with access-related challenges that virtual badges can easily solve. 

  • Grant or cancel access instantly, to anyone

Every time a new employee starts using an office space, an access card has to be produced. It becomes increasingly complicated when we’re talking about big companies with people in multiple countries that have to manage this access process for each of them. Generating a new card can take time, and also, when an employee leaves a company, they have to hand in the plastic badge. 

Using an app or a QR code to access a space is easier, more intuitive and simpler for tenants and their employees. Once a control-access digital system is in place, they can just add or eliminate a user from the platform in a matter of seconds. 

  • Improved flows

Security policies require for each visitor of a building to go through a registration process. Afterwards, they are given access by the reception/security staff who have to manually swipe their own badge to open doors or call an elevator. A virtual card streamlines this whole process, with tenants who invite guests being able, for example, to generate and send a QR code that lets them come to their office. 

Virtual access solutions can easily be integrated with parking systems or with elevator systems, for a smooth experience. To learn more about how we do this at SpotUs, contact us. 

Also, a mobile app that provides access comes with another benefit for the employee: they will probably not forget it at home. They won’t have to ask for replacements or for help from reception or colleagues, and their workflow will be smoother. 

  • ESG-focus

Producing plastic access badges comes with huge negative implications for the environment. Plastic can have a lifespan of up to 1000 years and predictions are that by the year 2040, up to 19% of the global greenhouse gas emissions will come from plastics. Continuing to use plastic or metal badges translates into a significant carbon footprint for the real estate industry and into a lot of waste (badges are lost, get deteriorated, have to be changed, they have to be produced, transported etc.).

As the real estate industry is already looking more and more at ways of becoming more eco-friendly, from the materials they use in their constructions to the way a space is managed and how resources are used. 

  • Lower costs

For each new onboarded employee, a new badge is needed. For companies with tens or hundreds of people, these costs can reach thousands of euro, on a constant basis. Also, for those organisations with employees that don’t use the space regularly, this cost definitely feels like something that could be optimised.

A virtual badge can be generated or cancelled in seconds without any additional costs.

  • Access to data

Using a tech-enabled access tool can come with other benefits, besides a smoother access experience. A solution like SpotUs also provides employees with the option to book the time slot they will be in the building and need access for, regardless if they want to reserve a desk or a parking spot. 

This generates reports that lets tenants know how the space is being used and whether they need to rethink their lease. For developers, this type of data helps them analyse how the building’s resources can be optimised - for example, how can they make the most out of free parking spots when they are not used. 

There are also concerns related to virtual access, most of them being related either with implementations - buildings that use older systems, with change management - people being used to a certain way of doing things, or with security. Innovation has always had its share of risks and it is normal to have some resistance to change. 

But the benefits, both in the long and short term, are undeniable. That’s why we’ve developed an integrated solution for developers to enhance their tenant’s access experience, that you can discover here. 

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