Smart Buildings

‘Mobilizing’ Next-Gen Access Control in the Workplace

The use of mobile devices in the workplace has become a significant trend, accelerated by the global pandemic, and vendors of workplace apps are now seeing strong demand for applications that enable smarter, safer, and more secure workplaces, according to our latest research. Leveraging this trend, workplace apps are being developed to act as an interface between building systems and their users, allowing occupants to access a range of services related to the environments in which they work. “In the pandemic era, communication with occupants became a necessity rather than a ‘nice-to-have' add-on, with the need to comply with office density regulations, managing social distancing and access control to commercial office buildings,” our new study explains. “Driven by the pandemic, there was tremendous pressure on businesses to provide safe, secure work environments. Solutions for gaining access to commercial buildings which supported the screening of individuals at entry points to ensure workplace health and safety through […]

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The use of mobile devices in the workplace has become a significant trend, accelerated by the global pandemic, and vendors of workplace apps are now seeing strong demand for applications that enable smarter, safer, and more secure workplaces, according to our latest research. Leveraging this trend, workplace apps are being developed to act as an interface between building systems and their users, allowing occupants to access a range of services related to the environments in which they work.

“In the pandemic era, communication with occupants became a necessity rather than a ‘nice-to-have' add-on, with the need to comply with office density regulations, managing social distancing and access control to commercial office buildings,” our new study explains. “Driven by the pandemic, there was tremendous pressure on businesses to provide safe, secure work environments. Solutions for gaining access to commercial buildings which supported the screening of individuals at entry points to ensure workplace health and safety through touchless biometric solutions, mobile apps and software analytics experienced a surge in demand.”

The user benefits for mobile access control are also widely accepted, with most occupants agreeing that using a mobile phone instead of a separate access card is more convenient. Employees or visitors no longer need to carry around separate access cards or tags, for instance, whereas the idea of carrying your phone with you while on the move has become the ‘norm’ over the past few decades. This practical consideration is playing a very significant role in the rise of mobile access control.

Having an app allows you to take a mobile-first approach to safety, making access through employee mobile phones easy to accomplish, Employees are far less likely to leave their phone at home by accident than they are a key card and having an app-based access control system can reduce tailgating, making a building safer and more secure. Visitors can also be managed via the app, allowing them a seamless entrance into the building while also not compromising employee safety.”

In recent years, therefore, access control has fast become a key offering for vendors looking to drive adoption of workplace apps in general. If you need the app to get into the building or to register a visitor, then that becomes a “forcing function” to drive adoption of the use of smartphones in the workplace. Providing occupants with digital access control via mobile devices is an empowering, "sticky" feature that extends the everyday convenience and experience for tenants and employees in buildings anywhere.

Mobile Access Control Funding

Mobile Access Control Funding

Investment in mobile access control firms has matched adoption trends, with several notable funding rounds completed by startups offering mobile access control in 2021 and 2022, as shown in this graphic above. In 2021, iLobby announced more than $100m strategic investment from Insight Partners, followed by strong funding rounds by Tennessee-based Zerv and Norway-based Defigo. Then, 2022 took investment to new levels with a notable $111 million Series C for California-based Envoy and an impressive $17 million Series A funding round for Connecticut-based SwiftConnect. Each company and deal is explained in more detail alongside such infographics within the new report.

“The heightened level of funding activity for workplace experience apps began in 2018 as human-centricity came to the fore, accelerated by the pandemic, as technology to manage the workplace became a necessity rather than a “nice-to-have” feature,” explains our comprehensive report that covers each company and investment in detail. “Strategic investments by stakeholders in workplace experience, mobile access control, and the commercial real estate sector are contributing significantly to the overall funding of the space.”

Digital wallets, such as the Apple and Android smartphone wallets are considered game changers for the access control market. Numerous firms have announced digital wallet integrations for access control, including HID Global, Brivo, Smart Spaces, SwiftConnect, Sharry, Cohesion, and others. “For new installations or migration projects, mobile access, where cards are replaced by personal smart devices, has become the predominant paradigm shift,” said Jaroslav Barton, Director of Product Marketing, Physical Access Control for Global Regions at HID Global.

Post-pandemic, mobile apps have continued to demonstrate their usefulness in commercial offices, as both tenants and employees navigate the uncertain waters of the “new normal” with the advent of hybrid and flexible modes of working, and are lining up to become the primary vehicle for all future mobile building-related updates and interactions. The integration of access control with other security and proptech platforms will be essential in meeting stakeholder expectations on convenience and delivering the next generation of access control solutions.

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