When it comes to workplace security we all have a different picture that comes to mind, maybe it's the security guard you greet every morning at the front gate, CCTV cameras in the car park, the office being locked overnight or something a little more advanced.
Depending on your industry, you may have come across different security measures without even realising it, for example in the hotel industry, a lot of methods are much more common and innovative than other areas of business.
There are so many factors that could affect the level of security in an office from the type of office or company you work for, the number of employees, the location, the budget, the information stored on the servers and many more.
In this guide, we will be diving into the world of access control for offices and learning how these systems can affect and impact a workplace setting and create a more secure working environment for everyone.
We will be covering the basics of access control in offices, finding the best system for your office, benefits, costs and more.
- Access Control for Offices Features
- Office Access Control Basics
- Benefits of Office Access Control
- How to Find the Best Office Access Control System
- Office Access Control Cost
- Deciding on the Best Office Access Control System
Key Components of Access Control for Offices
As we alluded to above, there are a lot of different extraneous variables and factors that can affect your decisions and the type of access control system you use and in turn, which access control you install.
In fact, there are a lot of access control options available that would work in one office but may not be as viable in another.
In this section, we will be outlining some of the more important features and components of office access control systems as a whole, and later we will delve into each of the core systems in a little more detail.
Tailor Made for Your Office
A feature that is often overlooked when deciding on office security systems is the sheer flexibility and scope of access control systems and how they can all operate quite differently but still have huge results and a strong impact.
Being able to determine exactly how you want your office’s security system to work and operate means you can get an access control system that suits you and avoid putting a square peg in a round hole.
Ensuring the Office is Safe
When people go to work they want to know that they are in a safe space where their lives, work and belongings will be safe during the duration of their day. If you step out on your lunch break, for example, you may not want to take everything with you and you should not have to in a secure environment.
Knowing that unauthorised access is prevented with an access control system will make your office and workers feel a lot more safe and secure when at work. Similar systems have been effectively launched in schools too, following these principles.
Reduce Admin Costs
Every office has its own procedures, rules and employee management methods, but there is no doubt that in every office there is some form of time fraud or loss of working hours for one reason or another.
Having to lose time dealing with issues that affect a traditional key based office for example, can be costly and annoying. Issues such as cutting new keys or changing the locks when someone loses a master key or people being locked out because they forgot their key.
Manage Your Office Staff More Effectively
A feature that is really important to managers and decision makers in an office is the ability to keep track of your staff more effectively and determine patterns and identify suspicious behaviours.
For example, an access control system can see when someone (and even say who) has accessed a door or barrier and at what time. This can help determine where someone was at the time of an incident or issue.
Emergencies & Evacuations
In the unlikely event of an office emergency or the need for evacuation, an access control system can be used to help determine where people are, how many people are in the building and create easier exit routes to avoid danger.
Being able to override doors and gates in event of an emergency is a huge component to an access control system and shows the effectiveness as opposed to a traditional lock and key method.
How Does Access Control for Offices Work?
Access control can be used in offices in very similar ways despite the variety of options available, to summarise, it can be used as a way of letting staff, stakeholders and visitors into and out of the office.
Think of an access control system as a security method that can keep an office secure, allow for temporary guest access and allow certain staff access to different areas of the business and building.
An office access control solution can be as simple as having a card reader on the front door and back entrance of your office, or could be as complex as a security barrier or gate to limit car park access alongside access control measures inside.
Let’s explore a few of the more common types of access control that are used within an office or workplace setting and briefly discuss them in context.
Types of Office Access Control
Key Fob Access Control
When most people think of access control they may not even realise that they have been using something like this for years. Key fob access control could be something you have had in your gym, used to get into your hotel room or even to get into your front gate at your flat or apartment.
This is a type of access control where the user has a fob shaped (often circular) credential, which is a fancy way of saying the item that is scanned by a reader to grant access. This credential is what they tap against a reader or pad.
Card Access Control
Often seen as one of the most popular and universally recognised forms of access control and is the most likely way you got into your hotel room last time you stayed at a larger chain. Card access control does almost exactly what key fob access control does but with a credit card shaped credential as opposed to a fob.
These are designed to be put into a card slot in a wallet and are very common with the industry. As most people have probably seen this is the same system hotels use for their rooms. A card can sometimes be tapped or inserted into a reader to allow access to a door, gate or barrier.
Biometric Access Control
When the concept of biometric access control is brought up people are often sceptical and believe it is not something that we use in everyday business, but this could not be further from the truth.
Biometric access control is used in a lot of places and varying industries to create a much more secure environment. Although in the office setting it is much more infrequent it is still a viable solution depending on the nature of your office work.
As the name suggests, biometric access control uses a person’s physical attributes and unique characteristics to grant them access to an area. Typically this will be either via a fingerprint or eye scan, a lot more places use these than you might think and it is not just reserved for sci-fi films.
ANPR Automatic Number Plate Recognition
Although this may not be at the forefront of every office’s security plan, nor even be something that is important or relevant. It can be an important piece of exterior access control and keeping your property secure.
This article has focused more on the internal portion of an office, i.e. everything past the front door in the building, but this does not mean that you cannot secure the outside too.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition or ANPR for short does exactly what it says, it is a form of access control system that scans the number plate of a car and runs it against a database either granting entry (due to pre-authorisation) or allowing the driver to get, or pay for, a day pass (for example).
ANPR costs can vary, as with anything with a lot of extraneous variables, but can prove to be worth their weight in gold when implemented correctly and be an important cog in an office’s security plan.
The Future of Access Control for Offices
When we discuss technology and what might happen in the future it is incredibly hard to determine what might happen within the next 5 years, 10 years or even the next few months.
Due to the scope of the industry there are so many different ways that this could go, and depending on the nature of the office and the industry the company is in, having more advanced security measures could become necessary.
There has been a strong link through CCTV cameras and access control for various reasons, some more obvious that others, for example the ability to have a two factor authentication via the user’s credential and a biometric scan or visual confirmation is more likely to happen in a higher risk company, area or lab within an office.
Benefits of Access Control System for Offices
Regardless of your office size, an access control system can be an integral part of your office’s security system. Even if you have a small business or startup you can benefit from deploying an access control system.
There is no one size fits all solution for offices as a collective term because every office is different and may require an alternate solution to another company. With the variety of access control systems for offices available on the market, each with their own benefits and usages it would take too long to fully discuss each method.
WIth the above in mind, we will be looking at generalised benefits that can apply to the majority, if not all, of the access control systems you may implement in an office setting.
General Benefits of Office Access Control
Keep Areas Secure - one of the best benefits of an access control system in an office is the fact that you can keep certain areas completely secure and only allow ‘X’ amount of people access to the area.
This form of physical security (i.e. doors, gates, barriers) can have a host of its own benefits as well, and is broadly known as physical access control.
Guest Access - being able to have temporary access for visitors and guests to your office keeps your building and office secure around the clock. Having a day access card or pass that will reset after the visit is concluded means you can easily grant access to visitors.
Determine Staff Behaviour - having the ability to work out patterns in work behaviour and notice if someone is consistently late or trying to access the building at weird times can help control staff behaviour.
Security Benefits of Office Access Control
Limit Outsiders Gaining Entry - the age old problem with lock and key is that they can be picked and duplicate keys can be made or given to someone. This creates a lot of opportunity for outsiders to get access to your office, whereas an access control system is much more controlled.
Protect Your Office - access control systems keep your office much more secure than other options, and when paired with a business CCTV solution you are much less likely to encounter threats. The security benefits of having access control in the office are multiple, and they do not stop at base level security.
Reduce Internal Threat & Theft - when your staff know that you can see where they have opened doors and the times you have done so, it makes it much easier to limit internal threats and the likelihood of theft.
Staff Benefits of Office Access Control
Easier Access - for your staff, the benefits are varied too, one of the core points is that it is actually easier for employees to get into the office than before. When there is a big update in policy or technology people are often reluctant to change but as it's such an easy transition with access control you rarely find this issue.
Keyless Entry - following on from the above point, the removal of keys to access the external (and internal) doors within the office is a huge benefit. The majority of access control systems use a credential no bigger than a keycard or a key fob.
Flexible Working - the need and the want for flexible working has never been more prominent than the last few years and with access control systems your office can deploy a much less formulaic approach to working hours.
What Do You Look For in the Best Access Control for Offices?
With such a plethora of different office types it can sometimes be challenging to determine what would work best for your workplace.
It is important to note that what works well for one company may not work well for another, especially when it comes to security or access control.
Here are five things you should look for in the best office access control systems when you are shopping for your perfect solution.
Versatile - what one company might need a system to do and what another might need could be two completely different things. Determining what is important for your business and what features are useful can help you narrow your search.
Access Control System for You - similar to the above points, it is imperative you work out what system is the most viable solution for your business. Having a biometric entrance for 5 employees, for example, is not the right decision.
Simple to Use - to increase and improve your adoption rates, make sure you find a solution that is simple and effective for you and your staff. You are trying to make their lives easier, not harder.
Value for Money - finding an access control solution for your office that is good value is important. This does not mean cheap however, this means, provides a lot of bang for your buck and scales for your business size.
Flexible - access control systems are designed to be used in a way that fits the unique needs of the user and the company who deploys them. So, look into the different options available and find the one that best suits what you are looking for.
Cost of Access Control Systems for Offices
Working out the cost of an access control system for an office is like asking someone ‘how long is a piece of string?’ There are so many factors and variables to consider that it would be naive to think you could say the price is X or Y.
WIth this being said, you can definitely factor in some of the cost areas and start to determine what the cost could be when you consider the following factors:
- Size of the Office (Square Footage)
- Number of Points of Ingress and Egress (Entry and Exit Points)
- Type of Access Control System You Want Installed
- Current Security System Deployed
- Location of the Office/s
- Access Control System’s Level of Complexity (How Hard It Will Be to Install)
- The Model/Brand of the Access Control System
- Installation Rates in the Area of Installation (I.e. London vs North Wales)
- Your Company’s Budget
- Likelihood of Internal Threats
- Potential Severity of External Threats
All of these factors and more will have an impact on the cost of your office’s access control system, and are all points to consider when looking at your potential costs.
Speculative Office Access Control Example
As we have discussed above, there is so much to factor in when determining the overall cost of an access control solution and it is always worth discussing it with an expert in the field and finding out exactly what you would need versus what they would recommend.
Let’s look at an example below to give somewhat of an idea, this is based on a medium sized office based outside of London in the UK.
Per Door Office Access Control Cost - £800 per door - £3200 for x4 Doors
Keycard Issue - (One Per Staff Member) - £5 per staff member
Maintenance - £300 per annum maintenance contract
Repair (Per Visit) - £80-120 per visit
Replacement Key Card - £10+ for a replacement card
Additional Costs - Replacement parts, readers, controllers etc, anywhere from £120 - £400 depending on what needs to be fixed
This is just an example of what the costs could look like for this example office, as we discussed in the previous section there are a lot of factors that can and will affect the overall cost, both in a positive and negative way.
Choose the Right Access Control System for Offices
Hopefully, by the end of this guide you should have a much better understanding of how access control systems can be deployed in an office environment and the steps needed to determine the right one for your workplace.
Although there is no right or wrong answer, there are definitely access control systems that lean much more to one industry or another. With that being said however, any access control system is better than nothing and there are benefits to each of the core systems we have discussed in this article.
At Nortech, we aim to create useful content that is backed by our experience in the UK security market and developed for people of all backgrounds. So, whether you have no experience in access control or are a security expert, we feel we can help you find the answers you need.
We have a lot of access control options that would work in an office setting and we would love to talk to you about your unique needs as a business. Feel free to reach out to our expert team today with the link below.