The Top Five Security Considerations for Flexible Workspaces

Boon Edam Limited Blog | March 2021

Did you know that the UK has the largest flexible workspace market in the world? The trend is part of a larger shift to more coworking environments across the world, with 50% of global employees now working outside of their company’s primary office at least 2.5 days a week, according to the 2019 Global Workspace Survey.

While this shift has been in the works for many years now, this move has been greatly accelerated as a result of Covid-19. With many people still not able to return to the office and having to work from home, many businesses are beginning to see its advantages and consider whether they really need so much office space - or if they even need it all.

However, while many employees have enjoyed the move to working from home, for some it has been difficult; those with children, other housemates or just noisy neighbours, working from home is not always the ideal working environment. The solution? Flexible workspaces - dedicated social spaces within towns and cities that allow employees to work individually or collaboratively while still maintaining that professional work environment.

The rise has led to some economists estimating the market could rise to as high as £62bn (currently estimated at £16bn) in the next 10 years. While it poses some exciting opportunities for employees, it poses significant challenges for those that are in charge of managing the security of these flexible workspaces. 

We break down the top five security considerations for flexible workspaces below. 

1. The location of your flexible workspace is key

When it comes to flexible workspaces, you’ll often find them in the centre of large towns and cities, near plenty of places for food and drink, as well as with excellent transport links. This is done to ensure not only more people are likely to work there but also to help ensure they keep coming back. While imperative for a successful flexible workplace, being located in the centre of a densely populated area does come with its own security risks.

For one, foot traffic in, out and even around the building itself is likely to be very high and you’ll want to be able to have eyes in these spots at all times. CCTV is the most common answer to this, but many fall into the trap of only installing them at the entrance and exits of the building itself. Does the building have any side entrances, or perhaps there is an alleyway that is often used but is hidden away from the main entrance? These are all important considerations to where CCTV should also be implemented.

2. Choosing the right type of access control

Visit any successful remote workspace and you’re likely to see they have implemented multiple forms of access control. While there are many options available, such as revolving doors and speed lanes, often simply opting for one is not the correct approach. Instead, a layered approach to security is needed.

Many opt for a revolving door at the entrance that operates through a form of access control, such as an access card reader, which helps prevent piggybacking and tailgating, as well as eliminating the need to hire a security guard at the entrance, such as those seen in the popular flexible workspace WeWork, located in Manchester. 

However, security at only one key entrypoint is not enough - what about less social areas, such as individual study rooms or places where teams wish to collaborate on sensitive topics or data? Additional forms of access control at these key points, such as speed lanes or security portals, ensures they are only accessible by those previously authorised.

Some of the most modern flexible workspaces have also gone one step further and introduced access control that removes the need for access cards for authorisation. Some now opt for bluetooth readers which allow the users own smartphone to be used as an authenticator, while others now use advanced biometrics to allow users entry simply through their own fingerprint.

3. Incident handling in flexible workspaces

Another key issue faced by those in charge of managing flexible workspaces is incident handling. In a traditional business workplace setting, you have much greater control and understanding of who is using your space and when, because it’s your own employees using the space. With flexible workspaces, different people come and go each day, and that in itself can be a potential security risk.

The good news is if you choose the right level of access control, it can be a great tool when it comes to incident handling. Intelligent access systems that take advantage of access cards and smartphone readers allows you to better understand who is in the building and where, which can be a huge help should a security incident arise.

4. Security vs comfort in remote workplaces

Being able to track people’s whereabouts can put some potential users off, which is why it’s important to strike that very important balance between security and comfort.

The challenges flexible workspace owners face is to ensure the freedom given to those that use these workspaces is not compromised by enforcing heavy security measures. Think about the people likely to use your building - what levels of security do they expect? Some expect complete 24 hour access, while some want dedicated areas only they can access at specified times. Think of these needs and try to make the user experience as simple as possible. 

This simplicity is key if you want people to continue using your workspace - noone wants to be fumbling around with multiple access cards after all. Meet the security needs of your users while also ensuring it’s as painless as possible for users to adhere to.

5. Cyber security for flexible workspaces

Finally, while the physical security aspects of flexible workspaces are vital, don’t neglect the importance cyber security plays as well.

With so many different people accessing your workspace all connecting with different devices, it’s important you have a good enough Wifi infrastructure in place to support the heavy usage, but also one that is secure. One upside is keeping files and password secure is ultimately the responsibility of those using your workspace, but if private data is stolen as a result of poorly incorporated and managed IT framework, then the onus is on you -  not your users.

Enhance your flexible workspace 

As flexible workplaces continue to grow, we here at Boon Edam UK are eager to help ensure these new spaces provide a safe and secure working environment for all. For more information on how Boon Edam UK can help, browse our range of security products, or contact us today. 

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