In the new era of work, our relationship with the workplace is defined by flexibility and mobility. Employees are working across the home, office, and blended spaces more than ever before, as well as working varied hours to suit the modern work schedule. 

This new hybrid workforce model holds the potential for more diverse talent and better productivity, but it also comes with its challenges – one being how to ensure security, health, and safety in the workplace. 

Strong and smart security ecosystem

While nearly one-third of companies report that they’ve implemented a hybrid model, according to a recent survey by STANLEY Security, many still have much to do to prepare their office for the future. 

Building a strong – and smart – security ecosystem is crucial in preparing for the future. As such, businesses should consider technologies that help protect their people, as well as safeguard their assets, optimise their operations, and secure their network.

1)Protect your people 

Implementation of a security ecosystem combines health, safety, and security hardware and software solutions seamlessly

Nearly 60% of mid-market and enterprise businesses across the UK and US report that the health and safety of their employees and customers are a primary concern when implementing modern and hybrid working models. 

This begs the question: How can businesses create a safe and healthy work environment when 59% are planning to bring employees back on-site in some capacity within the next 18 months? The answer lies, in part, in the implementation of a security ecosystem that combines various health, safety, and security hardware and software solutions seamlessly.

Integrating platform

Nearly half (46%) of business decision-makers say they are interested in adopting an integrated platform such as this. This means integrating traditional and digital security solutions, then leveraging the data and insights they produce to further enhance the workplace experience. Take this example: 

With employees and visitors moving in and out of the office at different times, a business may lack oversight of occupancy or density levels, people flow, workspace scheduling, visitor check-in processes, and more. However, with visitor management, access control, and other building/business systems integrated, employees can reserve a workspace for a specific date and time and be granted access to the building.

Leveraging AI and machine learning

Visitors can pre-register, answer a health screening questionnaire, and receive a mobile credential before arriving. Once the visitor arrives on-site, the system can alert the respective department – all without the close contact typically required for traditional visitor check-in processes.

When layering artificial intelligence and machine learning on top of the data, a business may identify trends in people flow and opportunities to optimise congested areas. They may also see that certain rooms within the building get more use than others and leverage these insights to manage their space more effectively. 

All of this is powered by a security ecosystem that can help a business better protect its people while realising other benefits in the process.

2) Safeguard your assets

Businesses are concerned about the security of their assets when it comes to the hybrid workforce model

Even more, businesses are concerned about the security of their assets when it comes to the hybrid workforce model. About 72% of leaders say this is, in fact, their primary concern with the hybrid approach. 

This figure isn’t surprising when you consider the impact of the pandemic, which left many businesses closed either temporarily or permanently, with few people allowed on-site to manage facility operations. 

As a result of the pandemic, we saw tech adoption accelerate at an astonishing rate – simply because businesses had to implement cloud and remote technologies to survive during a time when buildings were closed indefinitely. 

Remote management and visibility

This was particularly true for security solutions, such as cloud video surveillance and cloud access control solutions like wireless IoT-connected locks. Nine out of 10 businesses (91%) report that they have already implemented cloud security technology; of those, nearly half (48%) stated that this was due to the pandemic.

These technologies allow for remote management and provide visibility into business operations at the same time. In a retail setting, for example, cloud video surveillance allows businesses to identify and track not only criminal activity, but also foot traffic patterns, peak operating hours, staff shortages, and more. 

Loss prevention strategy

When integrated with the retailer’s point-of-sale (POS) system, businesses can gain greater insights into their traffic counts, end cap effectiveness, loyalty card activity, and a variety of POS exceptions, such as high-dollar transactions, repeated transactions, excessive returns, employee discounts, and more.

For retailers especially, a security ecosystem means a more efficient loss prevention strategy that helps safeguard assets and profits.

3) Optimise your operations

The “future of work” is still very much a work in progress, but one thing is clear: Businesses are looking for ways to increase efficiencies, drive cost savings, and, ultimately, optimise their operations – especially now with the challenges posed by price inflation.

A relatively untapped opportunity for businesses to achieve these goals lies within their security infrastructure. Security technology and solutions gather incredibly rich data which, when unlocked, can help businesses understand how their buildings are being used, when the busiest times are, where there are highly trafficked areas, and more. 

Leveraging cloud video surveillance systems, businesses could identify emerging staff training needs

Cloud video surveillance systems

For example, by leveraging the insights produced by cloud video surveillance systems, businesses could identify emerging staff training needs, which could ultimately result in improved employee satisfaction and reduced attrition.

However, much of this data sits untouched within the infrastructure, leaving businesses unaware of the opportunities in front of them. 44% of businesses that currently use a cloud security system for its primary use say they want to know how else this technology can be utilised, and an additional 20% aren’t even aware that it could be used in other ways.

AI and analytics

The interest in adoption is promising for the office of the future, especially when we see that the majority of businesses (78%) would consider using AI and analytics technologies to optimise their operations, helping their business to operate more effectively and efficiently. 

The increase in adoption of cloud technology – paired with the rise in interest in AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics – could make it possible for businesses to uncover invaluable insights from their security infrastructure and leverage them to adapt and build business resilience.

4) Secure your network

Advanced technology help businesses improve their cybersecurity, making it harder for hackers to gain entry

With cyber threats becoming more prevalent, businesses are increasingly looking to secure their networks and protect their data. More than half (54%) of those surveyed expressed interest in using AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics to secure their network by identifying and eliminating cybersecurity threats. 

Advanced and automated technology can help businesses improve their cybersecurity, making it harder for hackers to gain entry to the larger corporate network. Modern cybersecurity tools that use AI and machine learning can detect anomalies in network traffic or alert and act on suspicious behaviour.  

Cybersecurity software

For example, if an IoT device suddenly begins broadcasting and establishing connections with multiple devices, cybersecurity software could detect this abnormal behaviour, send an alert, and suspend traffic or quarantine an endpoint immediately – saving precious time during a potential breach. 

A single data breach could result in widespread distrust from workers and customers, potentially leading to decreased business as well as litigation issues. As such, businesses need to take action to update and strengthen their defences so that they can avoid downtime and continue to operate with peace of mind. 

Prepare your business for the future

Businesses will continue to look for more ways to extract value out of their existing infrastructure, including their security technology. For many, the tools to do so are already in place, it’s just a matter of unlocking the insights with a security ecosystem. 

With such an ecosystem – one that helps protect a business’ people, assets, and network, while optimising operations – companies can better safeguard the future of their workspaces and usher in the new era of work with confidence. 

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Author profile

Matthew Kushner Global President, STANLEY Security

Matthew Kushner has served the electronic security industry for over 25 years, and he is CEO Global President at STANLEY Security.

Prior to STANLEY Security, he served as CEO at 3xLOGIC, EVP of Schneider Electric, and President & CEO of Integral Technologies. He managed international technology and executed M&A strategy for the Fire & Security Products Division. He concurrently served as Chairman for ESMI Group. Earlier in his career, he served as Director of Product Management for Honeywell and as General Manager for Telular Corporation.

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2021’s most popular expert panel roundtable discussions
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The pandemic has impacted security in many ways, some we are just now realising" What are the positive and negative effects of COVID-19 to security? “The pandemic has impacted security in many ways, some we are just now realising. On the negative side, integrators were limited in their ability to access customer locations, posing significant challenges to supporting customers. Innovation was also halted in many sectors – such as AI and edge computing in healthcare. However, the pandemic increased awareness regarding the need for smart solutions that can aid in these types of crises. Smart video solutions have been identified repeatedly in the media as a potential pathway to better customer experience and increased safety.” – Alexander Harlass. Reducing false alarms What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology? “What’s really important in perimeter security is the minimisation of false alarms, not simply the potential detection of what might be an unauthorised person or object. In light of that, many systems now include alarm validation that can confirm an alarm event using a camera. The utilisation of AI-based technologies can further validate the accuracy of the alarm, making it as accurate and precise as possible. I anticipate seeing more cross-technological integrations to reduce false alarms, so that personnel in an alarm center spend as little time as possible in validating an alarm.” – Leo Levit. What will be the biggest security trends in 2021? “2021 will see artificial intelligence (AI) become more mainstream. There will be increased deployment in edge devices, including cameras, thermographic cameras, radar and LIDAR sensors, entry point readers, etc. Additional algorithms will be developed, greatly expanding the use and function as video surveillance transitions from a forensic tool to real-time analytics. This increases the value of these systems and helps create ROI cases for their deployment.” – Tim Brooks. Access control solutions Investments in tools and platforms to drive digital interactions have accelerated" What will be the security industry’s biggest challenge in 2021? “The security industry is traditional in the sense that it relies heavily on face-to-face interaction to do business with customers and partners alike. COVID-19 has put a hold on in-person meetings, trade shows, etc., and this trend is likely to extend throughout 2021. 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Identity and access management in 2022 - what will the future look like?
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