Relentless, chaotic, exhausting and surreal are some of the words that people used to describe 2020. Our lives have changed dramatically since the pandemic. Even with all the precautions and vaccination rollouts, the virus still poses a threat to public health. While every industry has been impacted in some way, commercial real estate has been hit particularly hard.
Although the full extent of the impact will not be known for years, economic indicators already paint a concerning picture. Even with all the precautions and national vaccination programs, the vacancy rate for retail space only increased to 10.6% in the first three months of 2021 from 10.2% a year earlier and the average effective rent dropped 1.5%.
With all these challenges, commercial real estate owners and property managers are rethinking how to address security in a post-pandemic world.
Office Building Safety Challenge
Not all is doom and gloom for commercial buildings. Many companies have either returned or are making plans to return back to the office. Still, commercial real estate owners face uncertainty as tenants reevaluate their needs.
While hand sanitizing stations and social distancing help, it will not be enough to make employees feel completely safe. A survey released in March by the American Psychological Association found that 49% of adults feel uneasy about returning to the office.
The challenge for owners and property managers is getting people to feel safe in an office building after a once in a generation pandemic. Although the solution is complicated and depends on a number of variables, security systems like access control and video surveillance provide much needed reassurance.
Security Systems for a Safe Environment
Safety is critical to the success of any business, especially in a post-pandemic world. As we adapt to this new work environment, property managers are devoting increasing amounts of resources to their security systems.
Security systems are indispensable to all types of buildings regardless of their market, location or environment. They ensure business continuity, physical security and, most importantly, the protection of human life.
The bottom line is that security systems allow commercial buildings to address their tenants’ legitimate safety concerns while operating safely at a high level. One of the key ways they accomplish this is by integrating access control and video surveillance in a smart and practical manner.
Access Control for Commercial Buildings
Commercial buildings use a variety of access control solutions. Depending on the risk profile, some solutions may involve optical turnstiles at the main entrance and other traditional access control solutions such as proximity readers at doors leading to common areas. Due to the pandemic and concerns expressed by workers, property managers have to do more than just traditional access control.
Increasingly, commercial buildings are incorporating touchless access control technology to address both the safety and security challenges in today's work environment. Touchless access control solutions enable contactless entry to doors, thus reducing contact and minimizing safety risks. A robust access control system is beneficial, but it will not be enough to quell the fears of returning tenants.
In a survey of 1,000 adults conducted earlier this year, 66% of employees said they were worried about their health when returning to the workplace. The good news is that many of these issues can be alleviated by integrating a strong access control and video surveillance system. Among other security benefits, video surveillance can address many safety concerns by empowering management with helpful tools that allow them to:
- Automate occupancy tracking in the building
- Make adjustments with video analytics that provide helpful metadata
- Remain resilient by using cloud-based video management systems that enable video surveillance from anywhere in real-time
[Related: Healthy Buildings Start with Touchless Tech]
Returning Back Safely
Without question, the pandemic has challenged us in ways we are still struggling to understand. While the commercial real estate sector was hit hard, they have shown an ability to rebound and come back stronger.
Property managers can meet today’s challenges by integrating reliable access control and video surveillance solutions into their buildings. In the end a balanced strategy aided by security experts will ensure that buildings are protected and, more importantly, that tenants are safe.
Patrick Chown is the owner and president of Safe and Sound Security. With a commitment to exceptional service and nationwide coverage, Safe and Sound Security specializes in integrating security cameras, access control, burglar alarms and structured cabling.
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