Key fobs and how they truly block access

Modern office buildings. If you’ve ever worked in one, you are familiar with the modern security of the key fob or pass card right? Those little devices that use RFID to get you into the building after hours and then get you to your floor if you have the misfortune of working late or on weekends. 

They all have them in one way or another and if they don’t, well…they’ve got some issues. We all accept them as part of our daily routines with work, even now in our homes. Hell, I take the pass card to my own office for granted…because it’s never got in the way of my own accessibility needs. And because of that, I missed a major issue that can come from taking things for granted. As much as preach about perspective…mine sometimes gets skewed too. 

Here’s the story: this past weekend, we had a major install for a client that was just down the road from our own office. Their office was on the top floor of a small 5 floor tower. We knew we’d be working from Friday night, through the weekend, so arranged for an office key and a fob for the lobby doors and elevator. No problem, and the same as our own office that was a 5 minute drive away…well…not quite the same. Friday night we were only there a couple of hours, so we didn’t hit an issue, but on Saturday, being there almost 8 hours…we hit the problem. 

Pause for a bit of boring legalities about the code for disabled bathrooms. Building code requires that there be one accessible bathroom for every 3 floors of a building. My office building is six floors, so we have two bathrooms. The code doesn’t specify that these should be evenly distributed however, so for some unknown reason, ours are on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Thankfully, our office is on the 3rd floor, so its never been an issue. 

Here’s the trick through…if the office has more than 3 floors, but less than 6, the code doesn’t round up. A 5 floor building only needs to have one accessible washroom on any floor. And in this building we were working in?

It was on the 2nd.

See a problem? My key fob would get us into the building and swiping in the elevator gets us to the 5th floor…but when you go down it will only go to the ground floor and nothing in between. 

No accessible washroom after hours, unless you happen to work on the floor that has it…like I do normally. Something that totally slipped past my experience and the perspective of Arthur, who judges buildings anymore on how well I could get into them. 


So how did I handle it? Well…I got in my car and drove to our building and used my swipe card to get to my floor for MY washroom! Which of course is crazy and should never be required if the world made any sense at all. 

This trick with this is that there is an easy solution if you work in the building, assuming the property manager is willing and equipped to do it. Make sure the person in question has a properly programmed fob that can access the floors they need. Simple right? Sure…if you’ve got a property manager with some sense to them…annnnnd….good luck with that. 

*sidenote* yes it is nuts as well that the washrooms can be on two consecutive floors and the loophole that allows only one in a 5 story building. Here’s hoping a new federal disabilities act addresses some of these building code issues and how property managers can cheat out on them.