Security Needs To Be At The Heart Of An Office Fit Out
Office Fit Out/April 2019
Moving into a new office can be a headache for an organisation. First, they’ve got to find an appropriate space in an attractive location. Once the deal is sealed, they need to find a fit out company that can transform the vacant shell into a space that meets business needs and inspires staff.
But one integral aspect of a fit-out project that often gets left until it’s almost too late, is security.
Treating security as an afterthought, at best compromises the initial vision of the occupier and can often sour the relationship between the fit-out company and its client. At worst it can compromise the safety of staff and leave the organisation vulnerable.
In this article, we discuss why security planning should be included at the start of an office fit out and what solutions need to be considered.
Why Security In The Workplace Is Paramount
For many of us, the worst thing that can happen in the office is to put up with hearing Brian’s joke about shitake mushrooms for the millionth time. However, there is a darker side to office life.
A plethora of crime is committed in offices around the world on a regular basis. At best these crimes can cause significant financial loses to the company, at worst they can result in serious reputational damage and even criminal liability.
Theft, for example, causes losses of £190m a year to businesses, with two-thirds of UK office-based employees admitting to stealing from their employer. And incidents of disgruntled employees stealing confidential data is also on the increase. [CT1]
So, it goes without saying that security solutions should be considered right from the start of an office fit out.
Hiding In Plain Sight
Including a security surveyor in early discussions around a fit-out project allows for security solutions to be seamlessly integrated into the overall aesthetic of the office interior. Such an expert can advise on the most appropriate solutions for high-risk areas, whether that’s CCTV, access control, or time locked and security rated doors.
They can then also advise on what work needs to be carried out by the security systems provider at each stage of the fit out. After all, the last thing the client wants to hear is that their shiny new office must be ripped apart to install the appropriate security solutions or that its sleek design has to be compromised with dozens of unsightly wires.
As Jason Powell, security surveyor for TSI Security, says: “The sooner we get involved the better. If we can get together with the client and the fit-out company at the very start of a project, it makes it a lot easier for us to deliver the desired specifications and the project doesn’t fall behind schedule and we know when we’re needed on site to install at each stage.
You Don’t Want “Access All Areas”
As they say, prevention is better than cure. So is a good starting point when considering security during a fit out, planning which areas need to be restricted. Obviously, your client doesn’t want any Tom, Dick or Harry wandering into the office for obvious reasons. However, there may also be areas where the client wants to limit staff access. For example, not everyone needs to have access to the IT department, particularly the server room.
HR may have an open door policy during the day but sensitive information needs to be protected at night – after all, in an age of flexible working, you don’t know who’s going to be burning the midnight oil. However, there are a number of solutions to counter these issues.
Not only can some doors operate on a time lock, for example between 6 pm and 9 am, but also time and attendance can be tracked. That way your client knows exactly who’s been through what door at what time. As well as using this functionality to make sure everyone is behaving and are situated where they are meant to be this is also incredibly important for fire safety. “If the fire alarm triggers a report of everyone that’s currently in the building can be generated, so you’ve got a list to check off to make sure everyone’s safe.
Stars of CCTV
Obviously, each fit out poses different security challenges but there are some areas where CCTV should be compulsory.
Jason says, “You always want to cover the key areas that give access to your floors – such as the lift or entrance area and fire exits but also areas with high-value goods. This could be the IT department, which obviously contains expensive equipment, but also areas that contain sensitive data, such as HR and accounts.”
And CCTV has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Not only can cameras detect general movement, but they can also detect a “man down” if an employee suffers an accident. CCTV can be used in conjunction with access control – taking a head and shoulder photo each time someone uses an entry card or fob. This reduces the opportunity for unauthorised personnel to enter areas they shouldn’t, by using a stolen entry device.
Footage can also be accessed remotely through a local network so security and relevant senior staff can view footage from wherever they are.
Put Security First
It really does make sense to put security at the heart of an office fit out project. The earlier a security firm can get involved, the less disruption and delays will be caused down the line.
As Jason says: “A lot of the time security is an afterthought during an office fit out and that needs to be changed. Security of the occupiers building and their staff should be one of the most important things. So, it’s always best to get us involved at the start of a project. We can find out what the client’s security concerns are and address them for them, even if it’s just restricting people from entering off the street.”
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