You would think, of course, that safety and security in offices is something that has evolved and become more effective in recent times. In many senses, this is indeed the case, and health and safety equipment are more effective than ever before. Moreover, cybersecurity typically makes use of the most advanced anti-hacking and cyber security software. It must, as cyber criminals are also constantly developing their techniques and technology.
So, the above show us just what is meant by office safety and security. It is as once about protecting the employees of an office and protecting all the extremely sensitive information an office works with from falling into the wrong hands.
We are talking then about both safety infrastructure and cyber security. Unfortunately, as far as cyber security is concerned, things have not become more secure. In the past, stealing sensitive information from an office was a job that involved finding and stealing physical documents or property. Today, this theft can be conducted remotely, with often disastrous results.
At the same time, traditional safety and security hasn’t become any less important. Any given office should have a robust fire safety infrastructure in place, for example, and should have further safety infrastructure in line with what has been recommended by official guidelines.
A secure office is one where the employees are safe and the information about clients or customers is also safe. Seeing to those two important jobs, however, takes two quite different approaches.
The Digital Age
One thing that could make offices more secure is when they cease to exist. Indeed, this is a phenomenon we have seen in recent times through the explosion in home working, which started long before Covid but was certainly given a boost by the pandemic.
With the rise of the internet and eCommerce, many businesses have also gone entirely online. This naturally removes the need for an office safety structure, although the need to combat cyber threats still exists.
Nevertheless, it is very often more than just a choice between one or the other. Remote working has led to many more office personnel working from home. This has been made possible by communication technology and the advancements that have been made in this arena. It has also been made possible by remote working software that pools all employees into one digital space.
It is here that everything that used be done in the physical office is completed in a virtual equivalent. But what does security mean for this type of office?
Very often, a physical and virtual office will exist at the same time. Where cyber security is concerned, an office has the advantage of an internal network. Even where employees are using computers, they will be linked by a secure network limited to that office or organization.
This safety measure cannot be sustained when the virtual office comes into play. Accordingly, all the security risks here involve what employees do with the data they work with when they are not in the physical office. A classic example of a security hazard here would be an employee working in a café on a public network and leaving sensitive data open to cyber theft.
A final complicating factor ushered in by the digital age has been the physical security of digital equipment. You might have seen offices making use of asset tags for laptops and distributing “work phones”. This answers the cyber threat of employees using their own devices, and it is based on the assumption that anyone’s personal device is not going to be as secure as office-approved equipment with the necessary security software installed.
In one sense, a business takes a significant risk when they send their employees out in the world of virtual work and still have them handling sensitive data, and so special care in this area comes much recommended.
Employee Safety in the Modern Office
To create a safe and secure office, it is best to start with the least complicated measures. This is the physical safety of employees or anyone else that enters the physical office and is thankfully something that has not thrown up too many extra challenges in recent years. It has thrown up a few though.
The first thing, of course, is to defer to legal requirements, consider the number of people in the office or the building itself, and then think about the potential safety risks. That should avail you of the information needed to create an effective safety infrastructure. A typical office is likely to make use of safety and fire signage, clearly marked exits, and will normally provide some appropriate first aid provision.
It’s essential to comply with ADA safety regulations by installing restroom partitions from One Point Partitions ensuring accessibility for all employees and visitors. Beyond this, regular safety drills and clear communication of emergency procedures play a crucial role in maintaining a secure environment.
But there are some additional security concerns where the modern office is concerned. Again, this is related to the remote working phenomenon. With so many employees taking equipment, and data, out of the office, there should be a more robust anti-theft system in place. This typically involves cataloguing office equipment and recording when it is taken out of the office.
Create the Right Culture
As a last point, it is worth pointing out that sometimes you should be careful with the security apparatus and measures you install. This very much depends on what type of office you run and the employees you hire, but generally speaking excessive security measures controlling how equipment is borrowed and what an employee must do out of the office can create a culture of suspicion – and even lead to resentment on the part of employees.
Of course, it depends on the employees. If your office hires many and of all levels, then it is fair to say that you should take extra security measures, just because you don’t know everyone intimately and there could be employees with no real investment in the company.
Now imagine the example of an office providing a highly specialized service with a small team who work closely together. Such businesses are often tech start-ups or specialist services; with such a workforce, you should be more lenient. Not doing so could adversely affect work. Your employees need to bond, and a culture of suspicion can inhibit this.
In all cases though, there is still an imperative to keep your employees safe and to keep your data safe. In the modern office, this means a combination of safety and a cyber security infrastructure. This is just the world we live in now.