The number of US adults teleworking due to the pandemic fell by 30% between January and May 2021 (from 23% to 16%), with the biggest drop in May. As more employees return to their offices, new and unexpected challenges hidden within the new hybrid work model threaten to severely disrupt safety and security.
Consider facial recognition solutions
Another added complication is that newly relaxed CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines do not apply to unvaccinated people or account for variations in local or state health guidelines that may be in place, potentially creating a need for organizations to identify and track different groups of employees and visitors.
Thankfully, AI-based solutions exist to bolster the security of in-person workplaces and enhance key elements, from the sign-in process to restricted area enforcement, while also allowing for frictionless adherence to health guidelines.
As the most accurate, turnkey biometric solution, facial recognition has the potential to solve many of the looming challenges offices will soon face as employees return to work. Moving forward, workplaces should leverage facial recognition solutions to thwart threats in the new hybrid workplace, bolster access control, and safeguard offices from future health risks.
Regaining a security foothold within the hybrid work model
With office workers returning to in-person workplaces as the pandemic subsides, one lasting outcome of the coronavirus crisis will be the hybrid work model. According to a recent Accenture report, 63% of high-revenue-growth companies currently use hybrid, “productivity anywhere” workforce models.
As companies set up attendance programs in which workers are only required to enter the office part of the time, ill-equipped security operators will be left guessing about who can access certain areas on certain days. This sets workplaces up for potential security breaches in which bad actors can leverage the confusion to slip past security safeguards.
With facial recognition, security staff can eliminate questions such as which employees in attendance are authorized to enter secure areas and when. It empowers operators with airtight schedule-specific and conditional access control that operates on the edge for an instant and accurate view of employee access, right when they walk in the door.
Additional complications can arise when employees work within shared spaces and don’t have assigned workstations. Facial recognition technology (FRT) can be used in these scenarios to count employees in attendance and assign them to specific workstations to better manage personnel. In addition, FRT can be quickly installed across a facility’s IP cameras and/or workstations to rapidly adapt to changing security needs.
Facial recognition solutions can even pair with video management systems (VMS) and send real-time alerts to security staff based on attribute-specific access control stipulations, such as time of day or location. With facial recognition tools, operators can simultaneously cut down on staffing and administrative costs while ensuring the security of the hybrid workplace.
Streamlining access control inside and out
Inside workplaces, operators can use facial recognition to ensure the security of restricted areas. Adding this biometric technology can be as simple as updating the software of most typical security and access control deployments that are powered by VMS that connect IP cameras, door locks, and alert messaging solutions.
FRT can also be used as a sign-in requirement for shared workstations on-premises, only allowing employees to access their account with identity verification conducted through a workstation’s onboard camera. In addition, facial recognition acts as an added plus for employees by helping them quickly check in without stopping to scan a card or physically sign, thus making frictionless entry a reality.
Outside the workplace, remote workers are possibly the most vulnerable to security threats. They may work from less secure networks or from unsecured locations, and their technology has the potential to be hacked or stolen. FRT can be used to curb these threats by providing instant identity verification, including dual-factor protocols based on matching a valid ID with a live face image capture. Solutions with anti-spoofing capability allow operators to rapidly ensure that any employee working remotely is truly who they say they are.
Protecting employee health
During the height of the pandemic, masks simultaneously made it more difficult for the virus to spread and for employees to be identified. Technology companies adapted, creating touchless identity verification solutions that used facial recognition to detect people with a level of accuracy close to that in unmasked scenarios.
As operators look towards long-term security solutions, building in technology that can adapt to and safeguard against future viral outbreaks will be crucial to maintaining the stability of the workplace environment.
Operators can integrate FRT that is able to not only identify masked employees but recognize if they are wearing their mask properly around their nose and mouth, when entering the facility and throughout the day. For another layer of virus prevention, the technology can also be integrated with temperature detection solutions to give an instant report of employees’ mask status and health and even alert security staff to assist if an issue arises.
In customer-facing scenarios, facial recognition can offer peace of mind for both employees and operators to make sure they are not endangering patrons. In the unfortunate event of another viral outbreak, operators can be confident that the security solutions they already have in place can promptly adapt to mask policies and help streamline transitions in and out of virus mitigation measures.
Safeguarding the workplace of the future
Facial recognition and other AI-based technologies will be key to helping forward-looking operators quickly adapt to the next wave of security challenges. From the threats lurking in the hybrid work model, to more complex access control needs, to even protecting employees and patrons from future viral outbreaks, facial recognition can enhance both workplace security and health with an easily installed and highly accurate solution.
With tools like facial recognition in hand, businesses can embrace the new normal with the peace of mind that their employees will be healthy, and their businesses will be safe.