Peeking through the keyhole to see the future of the door industry reveals offsite security solutions and sleek interior innovations more consistent with science fiction than with the types of doors and locks that actually had keyholes. Glass walls and framed glass doors are among the top trends in post-COVID office spaces.
Wood-framed glass swinging doors, like the ones installed in Anderson Lock’s Main Office renovations, are available from several of the manufacturers we represent. They provide security, as well as sound and temperature controls.
One glimpse into what reopening offices will look like, post-pandemic, is more like a panoramic view than a peephole. The trend toward double-glazed channel glass wall systems, that began before COVID-19, has accelerated. Glass design elements separate workspaces, yet still allow visual closeness and collaboration. Natural light has proven benefits for health, well-being and productivity—three areas of the employee experience that employers are mindful of in post-COVID renovations.
Our Door Division Project Managers, who frequently do specifications for modern office makeovers, use Wilson Partitions for high-quality, made-to-order, environment-friendly, interior aluminum frame systems. Anderson Lock, a decade-long distributor for Wilson Partitions, noted a COVID-era increase in popularity for modular wall solutions to assure social distancing. As commercial spaces move away from the open office concept, the door industry leads the way with elegant, scalable solutions that are more affordable than constructing permanent walls.
Door Handles are Breeding Grounds for Viruses
Because door handles are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses, and because bacteria can remain active on metal surfaces for days, reducing contact with levers, pulls, pushbuttons, push plates and touchpads quickly gained priority status when the pandemic began. In addition to increased cleaning regimens, this blog puts a spotlight on popular hands-free options to prevent the spread of disease.
Recently, Anderson Lock responded to a call from Dan Gonzales, Facility Manager at Grayslake High School, to quickly replace an existing auto operator on one bank of Grayslake High School’s entrance doors with a new Motion Access Automatic Entrance Solution with Wave-to-Open actuators. The exterior actuator, mounted on a bollard post, replaced a pushbutton-type mounted on the side of the building.
Wave actuators open doors after being triggered by a “knowing action” like the wave of a hand. The knowing action assures that the door won’t automatically open if it simply senses a person passing by. This solution, which can also be retrofit for existing low energy operators, is desirable because the door operators are touchless, don’t require disinfection as frequently, and can be operated intuitively by users.
Anderson Lock’s fast-turnaround supported Grayslake High School’s mission to accommodate students returning to in-school classes for the first time, who will benefit from the no-touch technology.
To maintain social distancing requirements at the school, classes are now in-person four days a week, with half the students attending two of those days, and the other half the other two days. Gonzales says that, although these are the first Motion Access operators and wave-to-open actuators being installed at the high school campus, school administrators are looking to add similar door controls to fieldhouse entrances, and possibly on other school doors.
When asked about other door hardware installed particularly due to COVID concerns, he answered, “Yes, we added foot and elbow pulls to restroom doors.”
Foot pulls, like Trimco’s UFP (Ultimate Foot Pull) allows the opening of restroom doors without the use of hands. The UFP includes rubber bumpers for wall protection and is thru-bolted for maximum durability. Made of marine grade stainless steel material, these pulls have been very popular with schools, healthcare facilities and commercial properties.
Arm-pull handles function by using your forearm to pull the lever and open the door instead of your hand. They reduce the spread of bacteria by minimizing hand touches on levers but may not be intuitive for users since we are all so accustomed to using our hands to open doors. We recommend adding signage near the door to illustrate proper usage with the forearm. [Without signage or training, people might think the arm-pull handles are just awkward looking door handles and still open them using their hand.]
If doors need to latch, Push/Pull Latches offer easy hands-free operation in commercial and institutional settings. Also known as Hospital Latches because that is where they were traditionally used, they are valued for their versatility and durability.
Push/Pull latches allow the door to be opened with a hip nudge or an easy wrist pull action. Demand for these heavy-duty latch sets has spiked in recent months.
Protecting In-Person Workplaces
Many essential businesses that remained open during the pandemic took steps months ago to keep their employees safe. One large suburban factory ordered sixteen low energy automatic door openers, with wave-to-open actuators, which Anderson Lock techs installed on openings throughout their warehouse and manufacturing buildings. That company also installed elbow pulls and foot pulls on swinging doors.
Although there is still no timetable for all employees to return to offices that were closed during the pandemic, we know that when they do, many workspaces will be dramatically changed. In addition to the touchless solutions already mentioned, many office spaces are reducing their overall square footage, and reconfiguring office areas.
Touchless door hardware and glass walls are visual reminders of ways COVID-19 changed facilities, but there are many changes returning office workers won’t see like the hi-tech access control solutions that Anderson Lock has installed to:
- enable a remote workforce,
- protect in-person workplaces, and
- prevent the spread of germs.
The new Schlage Mobile Access Credentials enable residents or staff members to utilize a mobile device instead of a physical badge to securely unlock an opening. Available for iOS and Android phones, the Schlage Mobile Access Credential app is convenient and easy to use. Simply select a specific door listed on the app; if access is granted, the encrypted unlock signal will be sent from the smart device to the mobile enabled lock or reader.
Features and functionalities of cloud and/or mobile-based security systems makes site management simpler and safer, while also protecting against internet outages and power failures. Remote lockdown for emergencies, and unlock capabilities for situations like an office delivery or temporary entrance for an employee, can be made available to authorized users of these hi-tech systems. Door schedule changes can be easily implemented to spread out workers’ arrival times, and employees can use their phones for access, eliminating credentials like fobs and key cards. Real time alerts and remote video monitoring offer strengthened security solutions, giving peace of mind that a facility is secure at all hours.
Antimicrobial copper door hardware is most commonly found in top-tier healthcare facilities. However, antimicrobial coatings, incorporated into levers and locks during the manufacturing process, go a long way in reducing the spread of bacteria, and are being specified for applications beyond hospitals and nursing homes. Anti-microbial adhesives, applied to exit device touchpads and on architectural door pulls to reduce contamination, are being added to high-traffic hardware in many commercial and industrial facilities. This protective film can be applied to a variety of finishes to meet aesthetic and sanitary needs.
Our current climate serves as a reminder that we can’t be certain what is in store, so the best thing we can do is to be prepared. Taking essential public health measures, like installing touchless door hardware can help save employees, students and customers from infectious diseases.
Make Sure Solutions Meet Life Safety Codes
Although it can be tempting to prop open fire doors to reduce contact with them, this poses a serious risk in case of a fire, and is also against the law! You can rely on Anderson Lock security professionals to recommend products that not only fight the spread of viruses, but also meet applicable NFPA codes / guidelines; meet American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance guidelines; and any state and local life safety requirements. They will assure that new hardware is compatible with existing access control, fire alarm, and security systems to ensure life safety compliance and reliability.
Contact our friendly, experienced team of door hardware and access control experts for a free consultation regarding steps your school or commercial property can take to mitigate the spread of germs, and to make workplaces safer and more secure.