Hot desking and security

by Tiffany Paczek
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New working environments and strategies come with all sorts of opportunities and benefits, but they also give rise to new challenges. One of them is security issues, but they can be easily addressed with the right equipment, writes JOHAN GANTIN.

The working environment has changed radically over the last few years. Workplaces in 2018 are spaces where activity-based working (ABW), hot desking and remote access are buzzwords and commonplace, but what do these terms all actually mean? When it comes to ABW the answer is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a practice that sees a variety of work environments, each suited to the particular type of work being carried out – breakout spaces, individual workstations, larger desks for co-working and brainstorming.

Hot desking, on the other hand, is the provision of desks that are set up to be used by multiple users – so that remote workers or those who only come into the office sporadically have a desk they can use when they do. They can also be used by workers who are in the workspace all the time, but working from different workstations depending on the task at hand.

The advantages of hot desking are manifold. First and foremost, they save on real estate and the business’ footprint. Instead of wasted space with desks set up and not being used 100 percent of the time, hot desking makes it possible for several workers to use the same workstation facilities at different times. This cuts down on equipment costs and also allows downsizing into affordable spaces while retaining maximum productivity.

But there are many other benefits too. Hot desking means employees are no longer tethered to the same desk in the same part of the office. Moving around the office gives social fluidity and allows workers to liaise and communicate with new people, to collaborate with other members of staff and work with and understand the responsibilities of departments and employees they may not have encountered previously.

Hot desking also is a great way of decluttering the office space. Instead of the build-up of objects and detritus that is often the way when one is located in the same position for a long period, the very nature of hot desking means that all you take with you are your portable devices – a smartphone, a laptop and you’re good to go.

Being able to choose your working environment on any given day means you can also choose which kind of working environment is most suitable on that occasion. Some people will always prefer quiet or secluded spots in which to work, while others may prefer more sociable and lively atmospheres. Most will have different preferences, depending on the nature of the task they have at hand.

Hot desking implies a modern workspace – any business looking at hot desking will also need to be moving all of its business systems into the cloud, so that employees are able to access all they need remotely. This also implies a level of autonomy for each individual employee, which can give them an increased sense of pride and responsibility for the tasks they have to perform.

But for all of the benefits of this mode of working there are naturally one or two disadvantages. Apart from the fact of having no permanent storage and employees having to carry everything they need around with them at all times, there is also the issue of disconnection. Without a regular dedicated spot in a workspace an employee can lose their sense of belonging and being part of a team. The most obvious downside though is the issue of security. If different people are using the same machines or equipment at any given moment or carrying around individual pieces of equipment that are then connected to servers or the intranet from different desks, how do you keep your information and files safe and private? When people are working in different spaces all the time, how do you know who is allowed where and when?

This is where electronic keying can be the solution. Such changing organisational structures as the utilisation of hot desking, along with the increased use of contractors or temporary workers, put great pressure on those responsible for the security in a building or on a site.

Programmable key systems come with cloud-based software for easy management. The benefits of programmable keys and compact cylinders include:

  • minimal risks associated with lost keys
  • flexibility to manage constantly changing access requirements
  • easy installation – no wiring required
  • audit trails, and
  • cost-effectiveness.

A robust and well-designed programmable key system makes it possible to use the key for up to 30,000 openings or three years before the battery needs to be replaced.

Electronic key systems are streamlined as they are able to assign access rights to the key holder on a permanent or temporary basis and can be programmed to suit each individual. Temporary access rights for contractors, remote workers and external service providers can be assigned quickly and easily.

There is no longer a security issue with lost keys as they can be revoked electronically at any time. Updates and changes of access rights can be transferred to the keys via programming devices or directly via a mobile phone.

Changing work practices bring myriad advantages, but also new challenges. Hot desking gives employees freedom and autonomy and the companies they work for a more mobile workforce, while also reducing costs and space requirements. With a programmable keying system, the disadvantage of greater security concerns is removed, giving both workers and businesses peace of mind. ●

Johan Gantin is product manager – Electronic Keying, ASSA ABLOY.

This article also appears in the August/September issue of Facility Management magazine.

Image: 123RF’s Dmitriy Shironosov ©

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