The Covid-19 pandemic is having harsh consequences in the working sector. In the last months many people have been working from home, transforming their houses in their personal office, but this situation only represents a transitional period, as physical offices will maintain their importance for facilitating interaction, collaboration and, ultimately, for employee health, well-being and productivity. Going back to offices provides the adoption of several policies, because personal distance should be respected, spaces should be sanitized and everything should be safe for workers. In order to be updated on the theme, we, at Sofia Locks, have followed several webinars to better understand the global situation and the consequences of the pandemic.

Flexible workspaces are gaining more and more importance, and technological solutions could be the key to overcome the crisis

Some webinars were generic, they only highlighted aspects already analyzed during the previous phase of the Covid-19 emergency. They put the focus on the changes that both citizens and business will have to face, without giving a particular standpoint on the possible solutions feasible to emerge from the crisis. Whereas, other webinars gave a clear point of view of the situation we are all living in. In this moment we are all aware that the whole world will change, we will never come back to the “daily routine” we lived before, so we have to keep up and find new innovative solutions to deal with the consequences of the pandemic. In the current landscape flexible workspaces are gaining more and more importance, and technological solutions could be the key to overcome the crisis.

Flexibile solutions allow to conduct the business in a smart way and be proactive in the adoption of new technologies

Flexibility is crucial when talking about workspaces, these solutions play a crucial role as they allow to conduct the business in a smart way and be proactive in the adoption of new technologies. Flexible spaces are designed to respond to the modern, fast changing working demand, and they are provided with cutting edge technologies, useful to reshape spaces according to precise parameters. Companies have to resort to flexibility and rely on businesses that provide it. Technological solutions can also have a protective role, every business should develop a plan to safeguard employees and customers from the pandemic, make physical spaces secure and implement processes that reduce the risk of infection. Different steps have to be taken on to get back out there: the first one is represented by the full remote working, where all employees do their job from their home, the second one is the partial return to the workplace, where the occupancy will be reduced and divided into teams, the third one is the “new normal”. In the second and third phase technology plays a fundamental role, spaces will be reshaped through innovative solutions and security and safety will be improved!

Sofia Locks Luckey for managers

The transition to innovative solutions is of central importance, as it empowers companies and eases the creation of a plan to bring employees back to offices strategically. We, at Sofia Locks, design cloud-based access control solutions that help enterprises to face this evolution. The cloud is pervasive, and it is a key aspect when it comes to spaces as it improves the flow of data, everything that can communicate via cloud technologies immediately gains freedom from space and time constraints. Through a control network different buildings can be managed remotely, on site and in mobility. In this way the reception becomes virtualized, the access to working spaces is granted through the smartphone, human contacts are limited and safety and security are improved. Cloud-based access control systems allow gathering data in real-time and giving managers a clear view of what is happening in a precise moment. In this way administrators can inform the personnel when intervention is needed. So, these solutions not only better the control over the spaces, but they also promote communication. At Sofia Locks, we are always studying the advantages gainable with technological solutions and we are always updating our standards along with cutting-edge technology, to improve the systems we design. Our innovative solutions are made to help businesses and people to deal with this situation in safety and security, by improving spaces flexibility, businesses resilience and systems efficiency.

Unexpected events, like the Covid-19 pandemic, have led to crucial changes. Enterprises will have to face a transformation: they shall be prepared to respond to the changing environment, and be ready to re-start and eventually handle the new reality. The third step in particular, the re-start one, focuses on the workforce, the personnel and the assets protection, along with the working environment rearrangement. The environment has to be reinvented, it will no longer be like the one we knew before the pandemic: businesses have to find their way to reshape spaces, make them more resilient, and adapt the operations models to the “new normal”.

Change equates evolution. Here some key points on features and technologies needed to deal with the current evolution of the market

Change equates to evolution, we, at Sofia Locks, are aware of this, as we have been intensively researching to be ready to face and manage all upcoming challenges. Here some key points we have collected on the features and technologies needed to deal with the current evolution of the market. In the current landscape, in which psychological, financial and infrastructural uncertainties reign, technology plays a fundamental role. It supports effort to track, identify and fight the virus, it promotes connections between work and education, and it may turn up for rescuing lives. Through such tools people can find confidence, look forward and evaluate the current situation to plan future actions aimed at leading business out of the crisis safely and solidly. Technological innovations are a stream of constant change and play a key role, as they help organizations to reshape working spaces and to rearrange working forces. Cloud-native solutions are crucial, through them everything can wirelessly communicate and be free of time and space constraints. These systems are flexible and secure, they live at the core of proptech solutions and they can keep the whole market alive, also because their flexibility makes them easy to instal and adapt. So, for instance, an important feature to consider is remote access, because it allows avoiding gatherings, managing spaces and resources, and helping respecting the social distancing. On the management side, from the orchestration point of view, cloud-native solutions have reached a turning point: everything can happen simultaneously and under the supervision of a central intelligence supported by powerful automation. These systems support integration with several different smart devices resulting in more efficient and reactive environments. Smart tools are crucial when talking about space management, because they provide information about the status of occupants and spaces. The monitoring and control features provide information through analytics in real-time, i.e. showing how crowded rooms are. In this way the managers can have a clear vision of the situation and the needed information to deal with unexpected events. Communication is another key aspect, right now protocols and policy shall be easily shared through employees in order to increase awareness. Managers and employees should be coordinated and cooperate, people should be able to report emergencies, request sanitization of spaces when needed, or demand for new PPE, while who runs the business should share specific information and alerts when needed.

The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing organizations to reshape their spaces and modify their operations, but it has also accelerated the technological adoption

Concluding, the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing organizations to reshape their spaces and modify their operations, but it has also accelerated the technological adoption. We, at Sofia Locks, have been working hard in the last months to understand how to simplify the organization of spaces and make them safer for everyone. We have designed these features to help businesses face this challenge with the right tools and suitable systems, in order to improve resilience, flexibility, efficiency, and especially safety.

Social distancing and the lasting of the lockdown have had a burdening impact on most businesses, not only on the life and working situation of citizens: many companies are facing the uncertainty of their own future. To cope with the epidemic and to respond to safety regulations, more and more companies are looking to flexible models, which involve reshaping spaces, production, offering, and almost every face of the business itself. The smart working revolution has already changed the production process of many companies, also regarding the space that companies need for their employees. Many analysts are forecasting that the number of realities that will decide to give up long-term contracts will be increasing: many workers will continue to smartwork, because it is safer now and because they grew used to it. This situation is a challenge not only for companies that provide coworking spaces, but for the whole real estate sector, that is likely to experience a contraction in the business flow. Although coworking, like similar cutting edge models, shall also be seen as forerunners in providing successful solutions for the entire sector.

THE KEYWORD IS FLEXIBILITY, COMPANIES ARE GOING TO RESORT TO THAT AND RELY LARGELY ON THOSE ABLE TO PROVIDE IT

Flexibility is the key

The keyword is flexibility, companies are going to resort to that and are going to rely largely on those able to provide it. The last decade of business has taught us that flexibility is achieved by two main factors: smart conducting of business and fast technology adoption. This is where we meet coworkings, with their new business models, and their offering made flexible thanks to cutting edge technology and cloud based services. In these realities, space has already been reinvented, reshaped, designed for responding to a modern, fast changing, working demand. The era of coworking will not end after the pandemic, as they represent a key feature, because they respond to the need of flexibility, and they drive cooperation and collaboration. Their technological assets are going to support the reshaping of spaces according to the flexible paradigm. Companies in shortage or uncertain conditions are going to welcome offering of well furnished, safe spaces for their employees, that are under a mid term contract mode. Thus farsighted landlords and tenants are already designing offerings that respond to such needs. For example intelligent spaces that can be managed according to social distancing, or settings that are easy and convenient to be reshaped for different contracts.

Coworking as a model to react

Coworking have been the most advanced, cutting edge models of real estate, they are therefore the key for reacting to the rapid change we are living. They can free companies from burdening costs of spaces owning, and provide "usable, safe, secure space". These hybrid structures have reinvented and innovated the concept of spaces through the use of smart systems, like cloud native access control, that allows access to gateways and resources with the smartphone; thus removing the need of a physical reception, or enabling real-time remote control of buildings and resources. All of that solidly enforces social distancing and safety. The emerging new trends related to the use of virtual spaces will become part of our “new normality”, but, at the same time, many of the trends existing before the Covid-19 will be reaffirmed; they will be reinforced, and they will continue by shaping the real estate sector. They will obviously been matched by an increase in outsearching, capital allocations and investments in technological solutions. Moreover, companies will be likely supported by credit programs, developed to alleviate the freezing of credit markets, and to make funds available. These measures are going to help small and medium-sized companies to get back on. All the actions are implemented to reduce the economic damage, even if they cannot completely immunize the economy, they will nevertheless help in balancing the environment. The real estate sector shall be ready to respond with convenient offerings and flexible models, that allow the market to gain a wealthy condition.

TECHNOLOGY IS A KEY FACTOR BOTH FOR SAFETY AND BUSINESS SUSTAINABILITY

The near future and what to do

According to JLL, in the medium long term the demand for flex spaces will continue to be an important feature, the demand for preconfigured flexible spaces will increase, the need for agile portfolios will broaden and physical offices to deliver collaborations will boost. The physical office will always represent a crucial element, because it facilitates interactions, promotes cooperation, and improves employees health and productivity. What is going to change is that this space has to respond to safety needs, and has to be provided under business supportive contracts. Technology is a key factor both for safety and business sustainability. We at Sofia Locks have been designing secure space management solutions for years with our partners and customers. Our cloud-native access control solutions are made with flexibility in mind, this is why we have already been working with the most advanced businesses in the coworking sector (and with all those companies that are looking at the future of business operations). Today we have a specialized team for answering the need of security, flexibility, and fast business growth. In case you are considering reshaping your business to respond to the crisis, we are ready to get in touch and share our experience.

In the near future, when the industry will stabilize after the Covid-19 pandemic shock and the restrictions of movements will be lifted, workers will begin to go back into the physical workplace. The transaction from the Work From Home (WFH) and the furlough to return to work will be different for every organization, the number of employees may vary, and many companies could decide to continue with working from home arrangements. This situation, never experienced before, does not offer certainties, except for the fact that the world will change, and that businesses will have to follow certain guidelines to be ready to go back into physical workspaces, and finally reopen. Many reliable sources are providing information about the possible measures companies can carry out to make both work and safety proceed side by side. Also we, at Sofia Locks, have been widely researching in order to understand how to respect the social distancing and the security standards. Here is the point we are currently at.

TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING NOT ONLY OUR LIVES BUT ALSO ORGANIZATIONS AND THE WHOLE MARKET

Everyone is aware that technology is changing not only our lives but also organizations and the whole market. It has become a stream of constant change, and it represents the key factor in this period, because it allows us to preserve (when not rescue) people's lives. Moreover it is supporting projects, businesses, and investments. It represents the tool that is going to lead business out of the crisis safely and solidly. As a matter of fact, many operations will change in their core after the pandemic, because they will be integrated and/or automated. Automation is needed to cope with the Covid-19 emergency, as it improves security and reliability. Cloud native technologies are used to increase flexibility, deal with uncertainty, and react rapidly to market changes. Implementing these solutions means transforming business spaces into flexible ones that could interact with people in a secure way. Sofia Locks have developed some features to meet these needs, like the access to the company without the presence of the reception. Through the Luckey Manager application, the manager can grant remote and secure access to guests. Moreover “staggered entrances” can be managed, in this way users can be organized in groups through the use of tags; each group has its own credentials that allow them to access specific spaces and resources in a boxed time frame, in this way entry shifts are created, and gatherings are avoided. By using the Luckey Manager application, it is also possible to support reservations of entrances to control the maximum number of people admitted to the workspace daily, and thus to respect the social distancing imposed. Protocols and policies for the use of spaces are not to be under-evaluated, they need to be enforced by the company’s communication. People should be always updated about what is going on in the workspace, they can find all the protocols by using the Luckey Guest application that gives a proper overview of the rules, the policy of mobility and the use of the building. This tool gives everyone the ability to advise on the levels of hygiene through the smartphone. It also allows to disable access to the building or in certain areas whether in the face of any emergencies or alleged ones.

AUTOMATION IS A PRECIOUS RESOURCE, BECAUSE IT IMPROVES RELIABILITY, INCREASES SAFETY AND WELL-BEING, AND MANAGES SPIKES IN DEMAND

The importance of automated systems is not only underlined by us, at Sofia Locks, but also by reliable sources, like the Harvard Business Review that, in a recent article, underlines all the changes that people are facing during the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors highlight the fact that this situation has modified the whole working world: it has changed not only where people work, but also what work is performed, and how it is achieved. Now leaders should reimagine the work, and employees have the opportunity of taking different responsibilities to respond to the evolving needs. To achieve this goal, new ways of managing work, and new talents are necessary, and also resilience and agility are to be developed to face the continuous changes. Automation has become mandatory to deal with the crisis and therefore it should be accelerated. It is a precious resource, because it improves reliability, increases safety and well-being, and manages spikes in demand. Recently, many companies have broadened the use of automated software, because they allow workers to operate, monitor, and control systems remotely and consequently reducing the possibility of exposure to the virus. Automation also allows utilities to function without difficulties and disruptions. Concluding, this pandemic is pushing us toward a time of unprecedented innovation, as it has accelerated the technological adoption in many companies. We at Sofia Locks want to be part of this change by helping organizations to get back to workspaces in a secure and safe way, by providing systems designed to help in facing the Coronavirus challenge, and improve flexibility, resilience, and efficiency.

Source: https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-the-coronavirus-crisis-is-redefining-jobs

In recent years the workplace has changed, the supply of independent spaces has become consistent, and has established after the adoption of these solutions in the real estate strategies.

Coworking has quickly spread, it has revolutionized the concepts of office, and space, which is meant as a service now. Such a paradigm has reached the maturity stage, thus these structures need innovative solutions to maintain the market leadership and diversify the offering from the ones of competitors.

Cloud-based access control systems allow managing shared spaces through the smartphone: virtual badges are integrated into users’ devices, solving the problem of distributing physical badges and mechanical keys. The use is intuitive, through the designated App and the assigned credentials users will be able to access any available resource. Moreover, thanks to the advanced features they can make reservations in real-time.

Another key advantage is flexibility. Cloud-based access control systems provide customized mobile credentials to better meet the needs of businesses and users. Through personalized subscriptions, it is possible to make precise allocations of slots, create groups of resources and define authorized and inhibited access areas.

These systems achieve high safety standards. They are designed to be safe in their entirety and are kept by specialized teams that manage maintenance and upgrades.

Sofia Locks cloud-based access control system is a smart solution that opens up to many activities in the era of sharing economy. The access control virtualization has several advantages over traditional systems, it represents the ideal tool to manage flexible and dynamic workplaces. Finally, it is scalable, it grows with the specific reality, maintaining high safety standards.

In recent years the labor market has changed and has become increasingly orientated towards hybrid solutions, like coworking. This evolution has given rise to new business models focused on the presence of shared spaces, their arrangement and administration, and the services offered.

Managing a coworking is complex, it is necessary to coordinate several operations involving the efficiency of the supervisor, the client satisfaction and the security of the structure. Managers have to implement innovative, flexible and scalable solutions to simplify their tasks and gain a competitive advantage.

Cloud-based access control systems transform mechanical keys into virtual ones, allowing users to access spaces and services by means of their smartphones. The functioning is intuitive, at each booking the system creates precise rules that can be changed or deleted instantly and automatically expire at the end of the working relationship. Spaces and resources can be coordinated in real-time using mobile credentials. Also different branches, located in different cities or nations, can be controlled remotely and in mobility.

Cloud native access control solutions are scalable, they grow with the business and include plugins integrations. In this way managers can add several functions, simplifying their operations and providing up-to-date services in line with users’ needs. For example, analytics show spaces and resources usage data in real-time. This information is worthy for managers because it allows them to modify the offering according to the preferences of customers, improving clients’ experience and generating new revenues.

Finally, these systems increase the security level of the structure, because they can record when doors are opened, and the device used to unlock them. Cloud-based solutions are designed to be secure in their entirety, indeed, they are supplied and maintained by specialized teams.

Sofia Locks cloud-based access control system is the ideal tool to manage mobile credentials with precise access rules, it is flexible, scalable and has high-security standards. It has all that is needed to coordinate activities between business and users. Moreover, the advantages over traditional solutions are many.

Sofia Cloud is already making the difference with market leaders. Talent Garden choose us for its spaces across Europe: one single mobile app and one single cloud solution for all the TalentGarden members to access 23 co-working spaces across 8 countries, in 19 different towns.

Thanks to Sofia Locks Cloud API, the integration with the Cisco ecosystem made smooth to have a seamless technological experience. Check on YouTube the results we got with TalentGarden and Cisco!

Sofia Locks makes smart the doors already present in your home or office. In fact, our locks, produced by the industrial partner ISEO Serrature S.p.a, are easy and simple to install. If your door has a lock with a European cylinder, in fact, just a simple screwdriver and an operation that can also be done in do-it-yourself mode.

ELECTRONIC CYLINDER LIBRA: SETUP

Libra can be installed on new doors, in combination with any lock fitted with a hole for a European cylinder, and also in retrofit on existing doors, replacing any cylinder, even mechanical, with a European profile (according to EN1303 standard).

The built-in credential reader allows the use of various devices for access management, such as cards, RFID (radio frequency) TAGs and Bluetooth mobile phones.

In the video below you can learn how to mount your Libra electronic cylinder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWCiGC5HhiM

WHAT IF YOUR DOOR DOES NOT HAVE AN EUROPEAN CYLINDER?

No problem! Our range of smart locks products can cover any need. You can find more information both on our website in the “Smart Locks” section and on our blog, in the article “The right lock for each door”.

For more information, visit our website www.sofialocks.com

Original post on Cisco Blogs; post by Anna Testa, Cisco

It’s time to say goodbye to markets based entirely on physical products. Welcome to the new normal, the “as-a-service era.”

This irreversible process is called servitization: a transformation where most physical products’ value is increased by the addition of companion services. These new services help companies attract more customers and create a cyber-physical ecosystem of interacting products and services. When servitization meets ICT, we accelerate pervasive digitization — a phenomenon that is changing the world of business.

Here’s an example: Last year, Cisco’s team in Italy worked with Sofia Locks, a leading maker of access control systems, to integrate Cisco Spark APIs with Sofia’s smart locks and Jago cloud technology platform. The result is a powerful blending of physical product with digital capabilities. It’s a flexible and secure cloud-based access control system that turns your smartphone into a digital key.

Leveraging Cisco’s Spark collaboration capabilities, Sofia has created a “rapid chat user support” service that enables secure, flexible on-demand access control for customers in several different use-case scenarios. Using the Cisco Spark interface, support technicians can send commands such as, “request a new access grant” or “open this specific door for this specific user at this specific time” via secure chat. This customized access increases convenience for users and saves time for support staff.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdf8zr9cEVc

Use cases

Smart work places

Today, work processes are more collaborative and transient than ever before, with workers using flexible workspaces on an as-needed basis. With the Sofia-Cisco solution, access to workspaces is as flexible as the work itself. Suppose that a guest in a co-working space wants to book a meeting room. She simply opens the Cisco Spark app, chats with the Meeting Room bot and books the room. The process ends with a virtual key sent to the user so that she can enter directly with her smartphone.

The result: Less time spent at reception, no more badges, very fast selling.

Smart infrastructures

Think about the typical electrical or network infrastructure, with countless equipment cabinets spread across a large facility. Managing keys for all of these cabinets can be a true nightmare. Sofia and Cisco are collaborating to solve this issue. A technician needing to access a cabinet in case of emergency will not have to worry about having the physical key. With Cisco Spark he will ask the control room for the right to access a specific door via chat, and receive the corresponding virtual key in real time.

The result: No more costs for key management or key delivery.

Hospitality

Hotels and bed-and-breakfasts can now offer better service to their customers while reducing their direct management costs. Imagine a traveller whose flight has been delayed and is standing at the door of his B&B without a key at 3:00 AM. The customer uses a mobile app to request access to his room. Customer Care receives the request, uses Cisco Spark to confirm the user’s reservation and room number, and requests access through the Jago cloud platform.

The result: Tired traveller can enter the room immediately, without waiting for a physical key.

CONCLUSIONS

Physical keys and badges have a huge impact on operations costs. Thanks to Cisco and Sofia Locks, organizations can drastically reduce the impact of such expenses by virtualizing all keys. Moreover, virtual keys are digital, meaning they can be transferred via secure chats. The process of key generation and assignment can be completely automated by software, increasing the efficiency of your organization. Together, Sofia Locks and Cisco Spark demonstrate how cloud-based digital technologies can be the key to innovation and productivity.

About the authors: Anna Testa is part of Cisco’s digitization team in Italy, and Alessandro Nacci is CEO of Sofia Locks.

Sofia Locks offers a cloud access control system that uses the smartphone as a key to access the doors. Through the cloud platform, in fact, you can send the virtual keys through your mobile phone to your guests or employees to check when they can access. Cloud software doesn’t require any servers to works, and is easy to use. It’s also compatible with computers and smartphones (Android and iOS) and it allowing you to remotely manage the doors and gates for access to your properties.

Why rely on a cloud system?

Are many the reasons to rely on a cloud system:

  1. None local server required: you don’t have to worry about maintenance;
  2. High reliability: the software works on dozens of servers designed to allow to the service to be always on and working;
  3. Easy software integration: cloud solutions are designed to meet Web 3.0 standards, with public and easy-to-use API interfaces for integration into third-part software;
  4. Low costs compared to standard solutions: cloud solutions allow the costs of servers to be amortized for many customers, thus lowering the cost of access to technology;
  5. Basic for smartphone connectivity: if you want to use a smartphone to open the doors, you can not have a software that works on a public cloud and in the same time you can have easy usable system with high security standards.