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How Can Building Managers Get Us Back To The Workplace Safely?

We asked the Facilities Managers, Landlords, and Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) Contractors that we work with on the practical ways they are getting their buildings ready for the return to work.
August 21, 2020

A large proportion of the population remain at home because the government guidelines have not changed: if you can work from home, you should. If you are unsure where your sector or profession stands, you can check out the government’s risk assessment tool.


As the social distancing rule reduces from two meters to one meter-plus, getting back to normal working life is firmly on the agenda. At two meters apart, offices, for example, are estimated to only operate at 50% capacity but at one meter-plus, they should allow for near normal levels of occupancy.


Facilities Managers, Landlords, and Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) Contractors are implementing new mobile access technology to make the transition from work from home to return to work a reality.


Here’s how:


Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) Contractors


M&E Contractors are crucial to ensuring the building services we take for granted in our buildings are working as they should. Building services are the systems that make buildings functional, efficient and safe. Mechanical engineers maintain the systems including elements of infrastructure, heating and ventilation. Electrical engineers look after power supply and distribution, telecommunications and building control systems such as elevators, air conditioning and door access control.


An engineer from M&E Contractors, TClarke said:


“Before ordinary workers can get back to work at their site, we as engineers need access so we can prepare the places for the return to ‘The New Normal’. And some of our sites are so big it is not just access on foot, we access via cars and other service vehicles… making that whole mobilisation contactless can be a huge challenge.
That’s why we’ve installed Doordeck’s new Smart Parking integration. Now, staff and contractors can open barriers, gates and lower bollards, without leaving their vehicle by pressing that one button on their mobile phone. They control entry with their smartphone within their vehicle.
This non-contact entry has made risk management a whole lot easier as well as safer and quicker!”


Landlords


The biggest challenge for landlords such as Oliver Baxter, who owns a building in London Bridge, is not to take care of his tenants who understand the new hygiene protocols in place, but welcoming visitors to his offices.


“I’ve had mobile access installed on 12 doors in my offices and it has allowed the tenants there, approx 40 people across several businesses in total, to return to work much sooner than most, because people are confident accessing the buildings from their mobile phone without the need for keys or a receptionist.
Before the pandemic, Doordeck introduced the Visitor Pass. This allows tenants to grant access to their visitors with a quick email and all the visitor has to do is scan the tile [outside the front door] with their smartphone. With visitors now welcome, it’s definitely back to business as usual for us.”


Facilities Managers


Facilities Managers oversee large scale sites that are made up of multiple buildings, car parks, outdoor spaces and anything in between. Think airports, stadiums, universities and so forth.


The Internet of Things (IoT) allows for the remote control of a building's facilities. Everything from air conditioning, plumbing, and lighting to security cameras and alarms can be operated by sensors and managed by dashboards such as that offered by startup, DevicePilot.


Before COVID:19, the worldwide IoT integration was happening, but the lockdown has fast tracked the industry and it’s helping building managers realise that remote communication with a building’s facilities will save a lot of money and labour time in the long term, especially if we ever go into lockdown again.


But what about everyday workplace machines that normally require handheld operation?


“Doordeck’s new remote, smart printer service is really innovative”, says a building manager at Facility Management consultancy CBRE.
“Finally someone’s bringing IoT into the office space for the actual workers and not just the engineers. If they could next make the coffee machine remote then we would have a fully contactless office on our, er, hands!”



How Can Building Managers Get Us Back To The Workplace Safely?


The first step is introducing mobile access through the Doordeck app or a whitelabled service.


As a technology agnostic platform, the API sits on top of the existing door access system. There is no hardware needed so the whole onboarding only takes 15 minutes and is handled remotely.


If buildings have traditional locks and keys and access is not networked, we can install a simple Doordeck box, which instantly grants electricity for mag locks and internet accessibility to the building.


From there you have an array of exciting add-ons to go truly contactless, including Smart Elevators, Smart Printing, Smart Parking, Smart Lockers and Visitor Passes.


But sorry, no smart coffee machine. Yet.



William Bainborough
CEO of Doordeck