Nexkey Releases 2021 Access Control Trends Review

Aug. 5, 2021
The study shows workers are returning to work and shifting to mobile access.

Most people are returning to the office in the next few months, and a shift toward smartphone-based access control is taking place. These are among the findings from Nexkey's second annual Access Control Trends Review.

Nexkey surveyed more than 1,700 people, 300 who manage office access, to understand the state of access control. Interesting highlights from the survey include:

  • 91% of remote workers plan to return to the office.
  • 85% of people returning to the office plan to return by September 2021.
  • 68% who have returned to the office are happy to be back.
  • 68.7% of office workers still use unsecure keycards, fobs and keys.
  • Smartphones are the No. 1 choice among users as the way to access their workplace, yet only 9.1% have that option.
  • 85% of office managers want more doors to have access control.
  • The No. 1 reason holding people back from getting more access control is it’s too expensive.

Return to the Office

Nexkey has seen more businesses return to work after a huge decline in occupancy that started in April 2020. It has been a slow climb, but it seems as though occupancy finally is at prepandemic levels.

The survey found 68% of people work in the office full or part time, with the largest percentage having a hybrid schedule of working from home as well as at the office.

For those who still work at home, 91% will return to the office either part time or full time and soon. Most will return with a flexible schedule, and 62% will go to the office once per week or less.

Shift to Mobile

As people return to the office, more than half, 53%, of people who manage access in their own building believe that access control is more important because of the pandemic.

Since last year’s survey, the same percentage of workers still use key cards, 44%, while 9% use a smartphone to unlock their doors. That smartphone access is an increase of 64% from last year.

Nearly all (98%) office workers said they have a smartphone. It’s no surprise then that the smartphone was the top choice among credentials, beating key cards, key fobs and PIN codes.

Security Still a Big Issue

A large majority of office workers (66%) prefer security over convenience, the same percentage as last year. Key cards remain the most common access credential, particularly in companies that have more than 1,000 employees. However, data also shows key cards have the most vulnerabilities.

It’s scary to see that 1-of-4 workers let someone borrow their key to unlock their workplace. Meanwhile, 33% of businesses had to change the locks because keys from an employee weren’t returned, and 43% of those businesses had to do it four times in the past year to stay secure.

Access Control Implementation

Most office administrators (85%) want more doors to be outfitted with access control, an increase of 10% from last year. The top reason why more aren’t implementing it is that it’s too expensive.

When it comes to the price for an ideal access control system, 77% say they would pay less than $1,000 per door. Interestingly, it seems more people are willing to pay a higher monthly fee than before. The survey found that 54% would pay $11 or more per door for the ideal access control platform, an increase of 4% from a year ago.


Nexkey’s latest Access Control Trends Report shows that the pandemic has accelerated a move towards the mobile credential. People are unhappy with the security flaws of legacy systems and want more out of access control. They not only want to keep bad people out of their spaces but want to support the return of good people to the office.

As an industry, we not only have to adapt to the demands of the customer in the here and now but stay ahead of those demands by building products that not only lock and unlock doors but are intelligent, provide insights into occupancy and the flow of people and tie better into the overall concept of smart buildings.

For more information, download the survey at

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