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Mobile Access Control is the Future of the Workplace

28 Jul 2023

Mobile access control is key as the majority of employees believing that mobile technology improves their productivity and creativity levels, the mobile workforce is now considered on-trend and business leaders more than willing to invest in mobile technologies to support it, it seems reasonable to assume that the future of work is mobile. There are all sorts of everyday workplace tasks that can, with the help of smart tech, be switched to mobile. But for the purpose of this article, let’s single out just one to be getting on with… let’s talk about mobile access control and its many advantages.

A study has revealed that almost 70% of employees are working through mobile devices, with 200 million worldwide using mobile business apps, and 71% of the opinion that mobile technology boosts their productivity and creativity.

Based on the knowledge that a productive and creative workforce is a significant business asset, it stands to reason that giving workers the tools they need to do their jobs and to go about their everyday tasks without a hint of frustration has to be a wise move for any employer. And that’s probably why 84% of decision-makers plan to increase spending on mobile productivity applications.

In the mobile workplace, people get to enjoy on-the-go, fingertip access to everything from productivity apps and documents to leave request forms and meeting room and desk booking systems. Mobile tech is also allowing data to be captured in the field and reports uploaded in real-time, saving huge amounts of time and streamlining all sorts of workflows.

Another area in which mobile can really make a difference in a workplace is access control. It’s one of those day-to-day bugbears that can impact the efficiency at which people move around a building. Traditional card or fob-based entry systems can also pose quite a considerable security risk too. And that’s precisely why mobile access control is becoming the platform of preference for so many businesses.


Apple Wallet functionality at 22 Bishopsgate by Smart Spaces


What is mobile access control?

Mobile access allows employees to enter physical and digital spaces with the use of a mobile device as an access credential. On the user’s smartphone or smartwatch sits a digital copy of a valid physical access control card which, depending on the technology, is usually protected by high security encryption to prevent any form of cloning attempt.

The tech works using the Near-Field Communication (NFC) or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) capabilities of the device to communicate with a reader to securely authenticate the user’s identity. The system then permits access to the physical or digital space, in line with any role-based rules set by the system administrators.



What are the benefits of mobile access control?

In comparison to access control systems that use cards or key fobs, mobile access control holds a number of advantages.

Ease of issue, capability to update access permissions any time or set additional authentication requirements, on-the-go control, effective emergency situation management and the obvious user and cost saving benefits are just some of them. Security is another.

Let’s take a closer look at why mobile access control can be such a valuable investment.


Better security than physical access tools

Access cards and fobs are, of course, easier than having workers remember an access code to get into the building. But they have their challenges.

Lost or stolen cards are a security threat, and that period before the user realises the card is missing is a very risky time. It may even be several days before someone realises that they don’t have their card, but this will never happen with a smartphone or watch, because we’ve all become so connected to our devices that we’d know instantly if we’d become parted, and the panic would be instant.

It’s also worth noting that even if a phone has gone missing, it won’t automatically provide workplace access to unauthorised individuals. Aside from the fact that the system administrator can instantly suspect the mobile access credential, there is also the PIN or biometric password protection on the phone itself to stand between an opportunist and your building, as systems can be set so that access is only allowed when the phone is unlocked.

Suspension of a mobile access credential is much faster than cancelling an access card or fob. And once the person has their phone back or it has been replaced, the mobile access app can be re-downloaded with ease and the credential re-issued.

What’s more, if access credentials are stored in Apple Wallet and the phone is misplaced, the device owner can use the Find My app to lock the device and help locate it.


Streamlines emergency responses

Mobile access control systems can play a valuable role when it comes to emergency response planning.

Say for example you’re in an evacuation situation. The mobile access technology will show where everyone who’s signed in is located within the building, allowing duty holders to satisfy themselves that they’re in a safe zone, and issue warnings direct to the devices of anyone who isn’t.

Mobile tech can also be used during lockdown situations, with push notifications sent to all occupants’ devices to provide crucial safety advice. Effective communication during these situations is often one of the greatest challenges, but mobile technology allows a secure, swift lockdown process, whilst keeping everyone informed with the information they need to stay safe.


Ease of issue and remote management

When issuing access credentials to a mobile device, the user doesn’t have to be present. This makes it possible to provide new members of staff and visitors with access ahead of their arrival. Mobile access control combined with a smart building management system will also issue visitors with digital wayfinding information so that they do not feel lost when they reach the premises.

Remote management is another benefit, allowing system operators to manage access permissions, and revoke access or cancel an access credential when required.



Allows single sign-on access

The average user logs into 10 apps every day, and bearing in mind in many buildings there are multiple points of access involved in the average working day, it quickly becomes incredibly frustrating for users to have to provide proof of authority to enter again and again.

This is where single sign on access control proves beneficial. With single sign on (SSO), users only have to authenticate once, then they have access to all the applications and resources – and parts of a building – supported by the SSO, without having to sign in separately to each of them.

SSO can be used to gain access to everything from digital platforms to front doors, meeting rooms, individual workspaces, isolated zones, store cupboards, lifts, air conditioning, heating and lighting controls, and plenty more besides.



SSO also makes it a much more streamlined process when it comes to onboarding new staff. No more issuing of numerous login credentials. Instead, there is a single login for everything. And when someone departs the organisation, it’s a straightforward task to disable their access permissions in order to avoid security risks.

What’s more, with 20-50% of IT support helpdesk calls associated with login difficulties or lost passwords, using single sign on access control will directly result in reduced helpdesk costs or strained IT resources.


Allows role based access

Role-based access control (RBAC) allows system managers to set permissions controlling who is authorised to enter certain parts of a workplace, or control particular features.

For example, building or facilities managers may be allowed to control building-wide air conditioning, heating and lighting, whereas others will only have access to control their own personal workspace environment.

With role based access control, it is possible to issue visitors with limited-time access to common areas or a meeting room. Senior or specially trained staff could be given access to controlled or hazardous zones.

And it’s all manageable via mobile technology, which means facilities managers can issue access and make changes on-the-go, without having to be at their desks.



Taking access control mobile, with help from Smart Spaces

Smart Spaces is an Internet of Things and artificial intelligence powered platform designed to enhance everyday life in the workplace and streamline operations.

The Smart Spaces platform makes it possible to automatically control various elements of a building management system, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning. It also provides a single sign-on, role-based access control feature, interfacing with the building security system to provide swift, simple and secure permission-based access for building users and visitors via their smartphones.


Smart Spaces also works with Apple Wallet, which means all access credentials stored can take full advantage of the security and privacy built into the iPhone and Apple Watch. Where or when any worker uses their device will never be shared with Apple and, if the device is misplaced, the owner can use the Find My app to lock it and help locate it.

To learn how Smart Spaces and mobile technology could streamline your building’s access control and bring numerous advantages to your organisation, you are welcome to get in touch or request a demo.


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