With multiple unrelated staff working under one roof, security in coworking spaces can be an issue, but modern solutions help to address key security concerns
- Managed access control can help to protect against intrusion events
- Cloud-based security systems provide 24/7 remote-access protection
- Cybersecurity must be considered equal to physical security concerns
In many ways, it’s no surprise that coworking spaces have grown in popularity so significantly in recent years. Some may point to the pandemic as the main catalyst for this, though studies into the benefits of flexible, hybrid and remote work far predate terms like lockdown and quarantine entering the public consciousness.
The benefits of remote work have been widely discussed, from increased engagement to higher levels of productivity, yet research suggests as many as 73% of remote staff miss the social aspects of in-person work.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why coworking spaces are so desirable, as members can avoid the pitfalls of micromanagement yet still benefit from working in a social environment.
However, with multiple employees from different companies working together under one roof, security can become a significant issue.
To help property managers protect coworking members from risks, this post will cover several key security concerns and solutions for coworking spaces.
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In a traditional office environment, ensuring that only authorised employees are granted property access is often a straightforward task.
Issued access credentials can be connected to employee records, time-based controls can be implemented corresponding to office-wide work schedules, and a centralised HR or business security team can be created to oversee the entire operation.
In coworking spaces, however, access control can become a little complicated. As members are free to plan their own schedules, and are seen as clients rather than employees, access control solutions must be flexible and easily managed by members themselves.
This means credentials should be tied to each client’s membership account to ensure that access is properly monitored.
To achieve this, coworking space operators may choose to explore a cloud-based commercial door entry system.
For example, mobile credential systems allow members to use their personal smartphones as a key, with security staff able to view and adjust permissions remotely from a web-based platform.
This means members can access the property at any time, and security staff can assess credential use to ensure compliance, minimising the threat of intrusion events.
Though implementing a well-managed access control solution can help to deter intruders and help security staff to improve their responses to physical threats, coworking spaces must also be equipped with wider property security tools used to protect members from physical harm.
Research indicates around 23% of coworking members consider security and safety to be a major concern within their workspaces, meaning property management teams must develop proactive security systems to ensure incident responses are prompt and effective.
There are several aspects of on-site security that must be considered when securing coworking spaces.
Property security teams must have plans in place to protect coworking members’ vehicles, so video security cameras should be deployed to cover the site’s parking spaces.
“Pan-Tilt-Zoom” (PTZ) cameras will ensure teams have a full view of larger parking lots, with optional software integrations like licence plate recognition able to track registered cars to deter vehicle theft.
Smart video camera systems installed inside coworking spaces can be used to both prevent and investigate physical security incidents.
Business security cameras connected to motion sensors and a wider cloud-based management platform will allow staff to receive real-time alerts related to suspicious activity, as well as view live camera feeds remotely to assess unfolding events.
In addition, research suggests the presence of business security cameras may be enough to deter thieves.
Many coworking spaces may rent out equipment such as laptops or smart devices for members to use, these devices must be monitored to prevent theft.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) asset tracking systems use wireless RFID tags to provide teams with live location data related to the equipment they’re installed in, allowing staff to track equipment use.
Customised alerts can be configured to immediately notify teams if these tags leave the site or are tampered with.
Alongside physical security threats, coworking members must be suitably protected from data breaches and cyber-attacks.
Most coworking memberships will include an on-site Wi-Fi service for members to connect to, though with the number of recorded data breaches rising by as much as 70% in recent years, property managers must implement data security protections.
Primarily, coworking space operators must ensure that all data communications sent between members and on-site Wi-Fi networks are encrypted at source. This can be achieved by ensuring that all members use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to on-site Wi-Fi routers.
VPNs are used to hide the data sent between internet-connected devices by obscuring each device’s Internet Protocol (IP) address, and encrypting the data communicated via the Wi-Fi network, essentially blocking hackers from viewing or intercepting any identifiable information.
Social engineering attacks involve cybercriminals manipulating individuals through deceptive messages in order to gain control over computer systems.
Common examples include phishing and ransomware attacks in which criminals trick users into clicking on bad links or downloading harmful malware programs by masquerading as a legitimate organisation or business contact.
Social engineering is involved in over 90% of all reported cyber-attacks, meaning coworking space operators should commit to training their members in how to spot suspicious messages and untrustworthy links to reduce the likelihood of data breaches affecting their organisations.
As more full-time employees explore the benefits of hybrid and remote roles and men and women flood back into the workforce after the pandemic, it’s expected that the popularity of coworking spaces will also continue to rise.
However, whilst the freedom and flexibility associated with coworking environments may be attractive to many workers, security teams and coworking space operators must be prepared to protect members from novel threats.
By developing smart physical security systems capable of providing managed access control and remote-access functionality, on-site video security systems configured to offer real-time alerts, and well-implemented cybersecurity solutions designed to defend against data breaches, property managers can appropriately address key security concerns for coworking spaces.