As quarantine orders are lifted and people begin returning to the office, there’s going to be a want and need to make common areas as safe as possible. Providing touchless amenities will become a necessary change for the majority of commercial office and residential buildings. Although some of this will require changing human behavior inside offices, it will also require dramatic changes to the physical office building itself. We’ve outlined a few essentials here that commercial office property managers, developers, and owners need to consider to prepare for the post-COVID future.
Swipe card access
Nowadays, buildings assign swipe cards or fobs to their tenants for added levels of security. These swipes usually provide access to the building during non-working hours, the ability to ride the elevator, and entrance to individual office suites and other secure spaces in the building In the time after quarantine, however, individuals are going to be more cautious of what and where they’re touching, and swipe cards are going to become increasingly important.
Building access: One crucial place for increased swipe functionality will be the building’s front door. This is the initial point of contact for every single individual in the building, tenant or not. If your front door doesn’t automatically, it may be time to think about installing this feature to eliminate one of the most-touched areas of the building. Whether with the use of a swipe card or not.
Elevators: The elevator is common space where touch can be minimized or eliminated with the use of a swipe. If the key is programmed to send riders directly to their floor, they won’t need to touch the button, making the trip as seamless as possible. Of course, this doesn’t solve the issue of multiple people using elevators — but that’s an issue for another post.
Suite access: The same elevator solution can also work for office suite doors. Elevators don’t always open directly into an office suite, meaning tenants often have another door they need to open. Although fewer people touch these doors, there are still enough hands touching handles that will create extra anxiety for people.
Bike rooms: If what we’ve been hearing about holds true, bike commuting will see a bump when quarantine orders are lifted. This means there’s going to be a growing need for more bike parking at office buildings – adding yet another touchpoint for select tenants. Again, added functionality for swipes for tenants who begin riding their bikes to work will be essential.
Electronic displays are an amenity office buildings offer to add convenience to their tenants. These screens usually provide a building directory, other building news, and sometimes real-time transit information. In recent years, there was often a touchscreen element added to raise the perceived level of luxury — however, after this time, it’s not going to seem so luxurious after all. Touchscreen displays and kiosks will become obsolete sooner rather than later.
Building information app: Providing a building app for tenants gives them information they need on their own personal touchscreen. Companies like Modo Labs and HqO build out customized mobile apps for buildings to provide their tenants, which often include the ability to remotely request information — basically, it eliminates the need to interact with a concierge. We also work with these companies to provide our real-time transit information right at their tenants’ fingertips.
QR codes: If guests coming to the building don’t have access to your building app, or retiring your touchscreen display isn’t an option, there is a workaround. You can give them access through a basic web app with your building information. Most smartphones have QR code readers, whether built directly into the camera or through a third-party app. Directing building guests to an online directory or web app means they receive the information they need without touching a screen.
Full-function building app
Key cards and fobs provide a heightened level of access and security for tenants. Having a building app can provide another option for accessing different areas of the building.
There are companies and solutions that allow you to add increased access and security, while remaining or moving to a touch-free environment. Schindler is a manufacturer of elevators, escalators, and various other building mobility solutions. Along with their hardware solutions, they offer software features that allow buildings and individuals to have remote control over elevators, building access, and other on-site solutions. This will further reduce touchpoints for tenants, while maintaining or increasing building security.
Whether you add more functionality through swipes or add full-building software solutions, it comes down to the safety of your tenants. People are going to want to touch a little as possible when they make their way back to the office and these solutions can help with those wants and needs.