Guest Post by Troy Johnston, Global Business Director – CRE Vertical Lead, HID Global

From the car park to the office suite, building tenants and occupants of company-owned properties have a consistent set of objectives across countries and regions: provide safe and secure spaces for their people and assets; reduce friction at all access control touchpoints; and offer meaningful amenities and experiences that employees and visitors value.

Tenants are also driving new ways to work that require the commercial real estate (CRE) industry to accommodate additional needs. They are offering their employees flexible, multi-location, and hybrid work styles that include work-from-home and in-office hot-desking. They want touchless access to doors and elevators, and intuitive features and amenities that make their journey to and from the office easier. And the ubiquitous mobile phone has become the command center for their lives; a single device that consolidates both work and life.

To achieve these capabilities, those managing the building need a modern physical access control systems (PACS) that enables robust experiences, mobile adoption across systems, and future-ready, touchless access control.

What Tenants Want

From their home to the office suite, tenants interact daily with a vast array of disparate systems as they access a consistent set of services, having to manage multiple keys, cards, fobs, passwords, and other credentials, creating friction and frustration.

The pandemic of 2020 surfaced a new social awareness of health and safety, driving tenants to seek solutions that meet the requirements of today and tomorrow. With contactless checkpoints and advanced visitor management capabilities including unattended self-serve check-in, they want to enhance the workplace experience and its management it by:

  • Reducing surface touches
  • Understanding who is accessing facilities
  • Keeping common areas free of congestion
  • Supporting appropriate social distancing
  • Balancing a mix of work-from-home and in-office working styles
  • Offering broad amenities and services for tenants
  • Capturing data for better systems management and decision-making

Cloud-Based PACS: The Foundation of a Modern Building Experience

Today’s buildings range from a managed, multi-tenant property to a company-owned headquarters facility with many satellite operations worldwide. In any scenario, it can be difficult to scale access control deployments without large infrastructure investments.

Hosted in the cloud (off-premises data center) and often procured on a subscription model, cloud-based PACS enable centralized management of cloud-connected access control devices, applications, and trusted mobile identities.  This in turn enables remote management of PACS systems in multi-tenant and multi-location environments with the high level of integration needed to deliver a seamless experience across systems.

This approach also facilitates a comprehensive tenant experience including access to the turnstile, the elevator, the seventh floor, the ninth floor, and the data center in the basement. It links all of these entitlements as part of one digital identity.

Cloud-Based PACS provides end-to-end information security, compliance, and data privacy, while also enabling data-driven decision-making. In support of a seamless experience, it enables integrations with a range of access use cases as well as centralized control over property technology solutions. Tight integration of these various technologies can help overcome key access control challenges and make it easier to manage through the lifecycle of an identity while offering key amenities and services.

Access control is very important, especially adopting mobile credentials. As an engagement model, mobile access defines active users and grounds them in daily interactions that help with all the other interactions, whether they are amenities and services, food and beverage, events, or building communications. It creates the fabric of the daily engagement model at home or in the office.

Mobile Access is a Key Enabler

Mobile devices are ubiquitous and inherently secure, a perfect form factor for access control. Because people are never without their phones, these devices can serve as a central component for improving the experience of interacting with and moving through buildings. They offer a higher level of convenience and greater security than is possible with plastic cards – so many of which today’s employees have lost or misplaced during such a long period of working from home.

From the administrator’s perspective, cloud-based PACS mobile enables over-the-air provisioning and remote administration while empowering credential management across multiple tenants and locations. It alleviates much of the administrative burden associated with management of physical credentials, which involves archaic workflows and face-to-face time involved with each of what can be hundreds or thousands of individuals. It also supports the short-term credentialing needed in a hybrid workforce model.

Mobile devices likewise can readily integrate with a visitor management solution, simplifying the credentialing process for administrators and end-users. Credentials can be delivered by email and downloaded to the device without a face-to-face interaction with the front desk. Tenants no longer have to wait for shipping of cards or come into a building to physically collect a card. With mobile, thousands of credentials can be issued remotely to users’ phones through a few mouse clicks, allowing tenants to walk straight into the building on Monday morning.

For the end user, the benefits of mobile include a single device for access control and other integrations, a more seamless experience, and touchless functionality in support of health and safety. Integrations beyond physical access control support things like tenant engagement, logical access systems, and mobile-friendly access to building amenities.

Meanwhile, mobile’s ease of management gives building owners and operators transparency in the system that did not previously exist. As an added bonus, these solutions are eco-friendly, taking plastic cards out of the access control ecosystem. This can be a boon to resident satisfaction, in addition to helping the environment.

Attract and Retain Through a Tenant Experience Platform

The modern tenant experience is inherently complex: each property is used for an array of purposes with a distinct assortment of tenants, visitors, and contractors. Each user requires access to a unique set of services, and each access point has its own functionality. Tenants want a seamless experience for their employees, with a single device for access to all touchpoints, and a frictionless experience across disparate systems.

People also have fatigued from having so many passwords, and different apps on their phone when they only use a few. They want more convenience and to improve their day-to-day life. They want the right information at their fingertips and interoperability among the different systems they engage with. By leveraging PACS in support of the modern tenant experience, companies can integrate technologies across their workplaces into a single interface, creating an attractive and innovative environment.

One way to address this is with a tenant experience platform — a desktop or mobile application that brings together all the things that companies should look for when exploring properties to house their operations – all in a single solution. The application extensively acts as a remote control for how a tenant interfaces with the physical space around them, from wayfinding, local restaurants and available fitness classes to weather, and traffic updates, along with mobile access. Being able to have one seamless, organized interface versus needing to potentially download eight to 10 different applications to use in the building on a day-to-day basis is extremely valuable. 

Serving as a “single source of truth,” tenant experience platforms integrate access control, visitor management, building operations (alerts, maintenance requests, broken elevator, etc.), shared asset management (booking shared rooms or spaces), as well as custom experiences like local dining options, yoga schedules, and café specials.

What the Future Looks Like

One example of what’s ahead can be seen in the February 2022 announcement from Silverstein properties that it had added contactless access to its 7 World Trade Center office building through an employee badge in Apple Wallet.

To help create this experience, HID partnered with Silverstein and SwiftConnect, whose Access Cloud manages and connects disparate access control systems across owner and enterprise portfolios with mobile credential platforms, user directories, and other systems that influence physical access requirements. SwiftConnect Access Cloud and Silverstein’s Inspire app integrate with HID Origo, a cloud platform that enables lifecycle management of mobile credentials. This tenant experience platform also leverages HID’s Seos credential technology to deliver an intuitive, private, and secure access transaction when a user presents their iPhone or Apple Watch to HID Signo Readers.

With Silverstein’s solution, tenants can easily access the company’s office buildings and their tenant floors, fitness centers and amenity spaces using their iPhone or Apple Watch. First, they add their employee badge to Apple Wallet after an initial set-up through the Silverstein Inspire App. They can then hold their device near the door’s NFC-enabled lock to access secured areas. To deliver this access experience in even the most extreme circumstances, employee badges stored in Apple Wallet works in Power Reserve mode when the iPhone needs a charge.

Solutions like these will also address the big shift in what employees expect from their work environment. Those who return to the office have a new mindset forged during a lengthy period of working from home. Some will want the same digital conveniences of their home environment. Others will need the assurances of touchless access, social-distancing, and hygiene measures that can only be efficiently managed through a tenant experience platform that integrates with beacon-based location services technologies and other automated solutions to these challenges.

Still others will need to operate in both worlds, seamlessly moving between the two environments and expecting the same experience in each. Delivering these experiences in a world where someone’s identity is the new – and often only – perimeter will put pressure on those owning and leasing their buildings to implement multi-factor authentication and other measures associated with a Zero Trust security model. This, too, will rely on the solid foundation of a cloud-based, mobile-first tenant experience platform. A cloud-based approach to PACS sets the foundation for companies to modernize and add innovations to the buildings that they own or lease. Today’s tenant experience platforms accomplish this while better accommodating the more flexible, multi-location, and hybrid work styles that have emerged since the pandemic began, along with the touchless access models and more intuitive interactions with building features and amenities that improve daily life.

Troy Johnston is Global Business Director – CRE Vertical Lead, HID Global