06 Jun 2016

The smartphone: will this be our key to the office of the future?

by Matt Salter, Sales Director

Many of the trends for a modern office involve removing the obstacles to working and making it as easy as possible to gain access to the facilities and services that we need.

It is of course already possible - and we do it in the Redstone office - for a smart card to be used to get into the office, open a locker, book a desk, book a meeting room and collect a print job – and many offices use it for cashless vending too.

But it’s interesting that just as offices are getting on board with cards, in some areas of our lives we are starting to make them obsolete.

Take Apple Pay for example, and the soon to launch Google Wallet – people can now pay for goods by touching their phone or watch to a pay point. With car share services, people are finding the car and then unlocking it with their phone – there’s not a key or card in sight.

It made me think, how will these trends influence our office life?

I can see a point where phones (or watches or other wearables) become our method of entry rather than a card, and there are potentially many benefits of this approach.

First of all, there’s the security. People now routinely add their fingerprints to their phones. This makes payments more secure but could also improve security at offices.

A door card can be lost or stolen and ultimately be used by anyone, yet increasingly phones are tethered to the person that owns them. Only you can operate your phone when it comes to a finger print – consequently it would mean that only you could get into the premises.

So why not have finger print readers at every door? The challenge here is that would slow down entry and employees or guests may question giving their fingerprint data to a private company.

However using a phone’s inbuilt security functionality organisations can leverage the phones already provided to employees. Or in the case of guests they can use their own phones – so they still retain their private data, and the phone acts as the authenticator.

With working patterns shifting and employees potentially able to work at any number of locations, it’s also easier to create a frictionless way for people to find space and meet with colleagues. An employee could be heading into a city, find out where desk space is available, book a spot on their app then use the same phone to access that space.

That same process also has many potential benefits for those that rent shared office space or provide access to co-working space on a subscription basis. Users can find space, book it, gain access – all via their phone and allowing the service provider to ensure that only the authorised person is using the space or subscription.

We may be some way off from this sort of change, but as we surround ourselves with so much computing power and authentication methods acceptable to banks – surely it’s time we start utilising these tools to improve our access to offices too.

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