The changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of new variants has allowed a partial economic recovery across the U.S. as business, and consumer confidence resumes and employees return to the workplace.
Technology drives growth
America’s economic recovery will provide new growth opportunities for start-ups and small businesses, not just across the region but potentially on a global scale. And, the key to that growth is technology, particularly cloud adoption, digital transformation and communication, and access control.
For example, digital communication, which became almost the norm during lockdowns, makes it easier to collaborate with suppliers, customers, and partners, regardless of location.
The acceleration of online business and consumer purchasing during the height of the pandemic has transformed the way transactions take place. At the same time, access control technologies ensure that employees can return to the workplace and work safely.
According to Deloitte’s most recent United States Economic Forecast, most measures show that the U.S economy is performing well:
- The country’s unemployment rate is back to full employment level
- The U.S. labor force participation rate is recovering well as many who previously left their labor roles are returning to work
- Corporate profits for Q3 in 2021 were 21% higher than pre-pandemic figures
- Labor productivity growth appears to have been accelerated by the pandemic-driven increase in tech adoption, having increased by 2% during 2021 despite the forecasted 1% growth for that period.
Return to the office
These are strong indicators of growth opportunities, but it’s essential to get people back to work in the right place to make the most of them.
While remote and hybrid working trends continue, businesses need employees to return to the office space to resume some level of normalcy. In order for companies to adapt to the new normal, they need to make their physical commercial buildings feel like safe and productive places of work.
As the pandemic fades, a recent study conducted by Pew Research using their American Trends Panel found that workers with job roles that can be conducted from home who choose to attend their place of work instead cite productivity and preference as the primary reasons for not working from home.
The study also found that most of the workers who are not working exclusively from their homes (77%) confirm that they are at least moderately satisfied with the measures that their employers have taken to protect them from viral transmission in the workplace. However, of the workers surveyed, only 36% feel very satisfied.
For many start-ups and small businesses, getting people back together in the office can be vital to innovation and business development. Successful innovation depends on collaboration and teamwork, and that works most effectively when people are together in the same space for formal or informal meetings.
A safer office
Businesses have found that safety is a significant consideration to encourage employees back to the office. While social distancing and reconfiguring the workspace are essential to safe working, access control technologies are also vital.
A study by ResearchAndMarkets.com highlights the importance of access control systems following the pandemic. The study found that the global market for Card-Based Access Control Systems, estimated at US$2.1 Billion in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of US$3.2 Billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 6 percent over the period 2020-2027.
While their primary role is to secure the workplace, the latest access control solutions feature touchless mobile technologies, which can significantly contribute to safety and wellbeing – for example, employees and visitors can check-in at the reception with minimal contact. And can integrate the check-in solution with other safety-related functions such as temperature checks.
Throughout the building, traditional door entry systems can be replaced by cloud-based keyless entry systems that enable employees or authorized visitors to remotely lock or unlock doors, or simply enter different areas. Signals from different types of wireless or Bluetooth-enabled user device, such as smartphones, key fobs, wearables or touchpads, communicate with the smart lock to present credentials that allow or deny access.
Because smart locks are based on digital technologies they can also be integrated with building management systems to control lighting, heating, air conditioning and other environmental factors that contribute to the health and safety of the workforce.
Access control systems offer many important security benefits as well, which can help to protect your intellectual property and other assets. The systems are easy to manage in the cloud and overcome problems such as lost keys or forgotten credentials.
By helping to create a safe healthy workplace, access control systems will give your employees the confidence to return to the office where they can work productively and collaborate more effectively to help your business take advantage of the growth opportunities as the U.S. recovers from the pandemic.