Supporting safe and flexible working in the new normal

Morphean’s Rodrigue Zbinden considers the impact of the pandemic on those businesses offering flexible, co-working space, and the role of technology in creating a safer environment.

A return to work in the ‘new normal’ will, for many, consist of a mixture of homeworking and some degree of collaborative working, whether within a set environment or dedicated flexible or co-working space. Such spaces are particularly popular with start-ups, entrepreneurs and those who seek a fresh and dynamic environment to collaborate on projects. The move toward a more flexible working model across industry now opens up the co-working option to a whole new clientele who seek a change from homeworking and an alternative to a fixed office environment.

However, the owners and managers of dedicated co-working facilities are understandably anxious about how this model will work at a time when Covid infection rates are fluctuating. They are under pressure to create and maintain a clean, infection-free environment which members and visitors will be confident to use. A loss of members means a loss of revenue, so encouraging people to use their facilities is absolutely critical to centre managers in the present climate. Winning back member confidence is the only way to encourage bookings, and this necessitates the creation of safer working environments with Covid considerations front and centre.

Health and safety considerations

People will understandably be reluctant to come back to use such facilities if they cannot be made safe. Cloud-enabled physical security technologies such as video surveillance as-a-service (VSaaS) and access control as-a-service (ACaaS) have a key role to play in this regard. At the front entrance, touch-free or contactless access control technology can make use of a QR code presented via mobile phone to remove the need to touch shared surfaces, thereby minimising infection risk. Surveillance cameras provide a second factor of authentication, allowing swift and accurate identification of staff to aid free and easy movement, while refusing access where credentials are not recognised, increasing security.

People counting capabilities enable the safe control of occupancy thresholds. Keeping a record of the number of members on-site enables predictions to be made around regular use of the building, also enabling staff to plan their time, with online scheduling simplifying the choice to work from home or to book office space as requirements dictate. It’s important to consider that a single report of a case of COVID-19 is enough to result in immediate closure, so it’s therefore vital that systems are in place that allow immediate action to be taken. Office track and trace, utilising access control and video data, can be used to determine employee movements and, in the event of a positive test, alert those who may have made physical contact with that individual.

Insights to aid effective management

The success of cloud infrastructure has been instrumental in keeping businesses operational throughout the pandemic. Many company leaders will already have taken the decision to rely more heavily on cloud in the future, enabling a move towards more flexible working models. VSaaS and ACaaS are based in physical security, yet can be used for many applications beyond security, allowing their powerful insights to aid business operations.

A survey of 1000 senior decision makers, commissioned by Morphean as part of an independent study, found that 70% of respondents believe that COVID-19 has increased the urgency for businesses to adopt VSaaS and ACaaS, while a total of 82% anticipated the levels/frequency of remote workers and flexible working in their organisations to be higher post-pandemic and in the longer term. The managers of co-working spaces can use this move towards a more flexible approach to their advantage, making efficiencies around the use of energy, lighting and heating during quieter periods according to data from the access control system and other interconnected devices or sensors.

A future-proof business model

A key benefit in implementing cloud technology, such as VSaaS and ACaaS, is its ability to enable business managers to customise and scale quickly to meet demand. Solutions offered ‘as-a-service’ mean a move toward an operational expenditure model, rather than one based on capital expenditure. 28% of those who responded to the survey highlighted cost benefits as a key factor in the move towards VSaaS and ACaaS, with 19% indicating that they would expect to see all-inclusive updates/upgrades and support, which both VSaaS and ACaaS can offer.

Security and surveillance technologies have the potential to be core business tools. Their capabilities go beyond security, providing many insights including the optimal use of space and energy, occupancy management and improving health & safety in relation to premises and people. Co-working and flexible working spaces that can demonstrate appropriate measures for creating a safe and secure environment will, undoubtedly, welcome back their members in the Covid-era, with the peace of mind that they are well prepared for any challenges that might lie ahead.


Rodrigue Zbinden is CEO at Morphean SA. The secure Morphean platform informs decision making and drives efficiencies for all organisations by generating unique and actionable insights from a multitude of data sources. Find out more about VSaaS and ACaaS at https://morphean.com/

© Business Reporter 2021

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