EXCLUSIVE: The future of work

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David McGuinness, Head of Commercial Real Estate Business Development, Video Security & Access Control at Motorola Solutions discusses the top considerations when designing a secure office environment.

Across the globe, evolving business and employee needs regarding office convenience, collaboration and efficiency may vary, but safety and security remain a commonality.

The key to creating a productive, harmonious and safe workspace in this new hybrid age begins by working with a security solution integrator to assess the building’s security risks and determining the right physical security system to invest in.

Working with a security solution integrator

A security solution integrator helps organizations to assess their unique security needs and create a cohesive and fully integrated system, while resolving potential security risks. By hiring a dedicated integrator, businesses can commission specialized security dashboards used to highlight the analytics most relevant to their operations. This is particularly useful for monitoring active data feeds, such as building occupancy levels, to help understand how security solutions and building spaces are utilized.

An integrator can also connect access control readers and controllers with wider security features and configure networks to exchange relevant data and enable access points to automatically engage different kinds of security cameras when needed in parking garages, lobbies, office buildings and more.

For example, if an individual attempts access to a secure area after hours, cameras can detect the intrusion and send security personnel an alert to respond. Modern commercial access control technology can also be integrated with visitor, building and alarm management systems to enable features like remote administration of facilities and sending automatic alerts to multiple smart devices.

One of the most important services offered by security integration companies is the ongoing training of on-site security and IT teams, as this ensures that employees tasked with operating newly installed security systems know how to manage and utilize all relevant technologies.

Physical security auditing

The key to determining the effectiveness of a facility’s safety measures is to conduct a physical security audit, which helps identify potential weaknesses and threats, ensuring that the facility is adequately protected against threats such as burglaries, data breaches and unauthorized access.

During a physical risk assessment, a security solution integrator will look at access control measures, security patrols and incident response protocols to determine weaknesses or inconsistencies in security practices.

Crucial steps of an audit include:

  • Inspecting the building construction, layout, lighting and landscaping to determine deficiencies in the infrastructure that can be easily exploited and provide recommendations for upgrades or enhancements
  • Testing security systems to evaluate any electronic locks, security cameras and alarm systems and ensure they are all in working order
  • Interviewing security employees to provide a better understanding of how susceptible they may be to malicious actors trying to take advantage of them and gain access to the facility, which helps ensure they know how to act in case of a breach

The right physical security system

The most common physical security solutions found in office and corporate environments include video security cameras, access control systems, mass notification applications and radio communication networks and devices. These solutions are also used to improve productivity, increase collaboration, drive efficiencies and ultimately create a safer workplace. These technologies can be integrated to create a comprehensive smart office system that improves ways of working.

For example, key components of a smart office often rely on the IoT. From lights and thermostats to employee management and access control, interconnectivity of the systems and machine learning capabilities built into smart office design with real-time data collection all support analysis and inform future business needs and improvements.

For large companies that have offices across multiple geographies, employees look for flexibility and convenience to access different offices, reserve workspaces and book conference rooms that dynamically grant temporary access permissions when needed.

Access control

Cloud-based access control platforms allow security personnel to stay on top of who’s coming in and out of the building and manage upgrades from anywhere in the world. With simple technology integrations with secure mobile devices, security can remotely access video security cameras to see events as they happen in real-time, approve or deny access requests and initiate lockdowns in an emergency.

These virtual security benefits also extend to a company’s employees. For example, an employee traveling from the US to the company’s office in London can easily obtain access to enter through the lobby, reach their designated floor and book a conference room at his or her convenience through their mobile device.

If their travel date or schedule changes, their access can be updated via the mobile app for a frictionless experience upon arrival. Security does not need to be physically present in the office to provide access.

Physical key cards and badges are becoming obsolete because they pose a threat when they are lost, stolen or loaned. Today, the shift is towards a contactless office entry experience where employees can obtain access via the smartphone app or by waving their hand in front of the reader.


Video security cameras are another vital part of an office’s security ecosystem, capturing high-quality video and monitoring the premises at all times. Video cameras can help to detect potential threats in the interior or exterior of the building and embedded advanced analytics can increase productivity of security personnel, while making monitoring more efficient.

AI can also help detect the health of a camera and notify security personnel in the event that its view is obscured. With powerful AI features, the right video security technology can be multi-purposed for security and business intelligence. Commonly used analytics include occupancy counting to monitor large facilities and keep track of people and vehicles in locations as well as heatmaps for understanding congestion, suspicious activity and transportation flows.

Integrated systems

With the combination of security cameras and access control, if an unauthorized person attempts to enter the office work building using a keycard, motion sensors can then activate the video cameras and notify security immediately.

Similarly, the AI embedded within the video security cameras can detect abnormal noise levels or motion, for example, if someone is jumping over the lobby turnstile, a car is moving in the wrong direction in the employee parking garage, etc. and then alert the appropriate teams to respond to the incident quickly. In the event of a door being propped or forced open, the access control system sends security an immediate alert to their radios and provides access to live camera feeds.

Radio communication

Radio networks and devices are the preferred method of communication for security because of their instant, effective, clear and reliable communication. Office buildings within large campuses will require quick notification of incidents in surrounding buildings to take appropriate action.

Security can select to speak with a single colleague or to a team at the press of a button on a radio and share important information while they are on the move. Some radios allow security personnel to directly receive notifications via text message or stream video from security cameras in real-time. Examples of incidents may include attempted access to unauthorized floors, offices, the loading dock or the roof.

Mass notification systems 

When an event or threat occurs – from a burst pipe to inclement weather or an unauthorized visitor – mass notification applications enable security personnel to immediately communicate with employees by sharing important information via text. Mass notification applications help improve emergency preparedness, keep staff connected and informed, decrease downtime about planned maintenance or outages and help keep everyone safe.

Depending on the nature of the emergency, it may not be appropriate to send mass alerts to every employee simultaneously. The option to segment employees by role, location or other attribute means that businesses can alert just those groups of employees who are affected by the emergency, or, in a developing event, evacuate in stages rather than en masse.

Future of office safety and security

The world has seen shifts in just the past three years with the acceleration of remote and hybrid work and the adoption of new digital security technologies and AI. Technological advances will likely continue to influence the shift towards a more flexible work environment and solution integrators can help businesses evaluate a building’s security risks and recommend the best solutions for a productive and safe work environment.  

This article was originally published in the June edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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