Treat Your Office as if it Were Your Home this Winter

Most people would not consider leaving home before checking all doors and windows were locked, but when it comes to the office, we’re not always as security conscious. It’s not uncommon for employees to leave work with office windows open and computers on and logged in to the server. People can also forget to set alarms and lock exit doors.

Yet our offices contain a potential treasure trove of petty cash, laptops, computer equipment, audio-visual gadgets, office supplies, as well as sensitive customer data – items that are all vulnerable to an opportunistic thief. Meanwhile, the longer autumn and winter nights provide more opportunities for burglars to act unseen.

Furthermore, the reality is that business premises are more vulnerable to crime than houses, making it even more important to secure offices than your home. According to the latest Home Office Commercial Victimisation Survey, from the years 2012-2014, there were 5.5 million crimes committed against premises. Burglary alone cost companies an average of £1,000 a year, with the biggest single loss being as high as £502,000.

This figure shows just how devastating office crime can be – and that’s not simply in terms of the cost of stolen items. More damaging can be the downtime caused missing or damaged IT equipment, or the reputational and legal issues that can occur if sensitive business or customer data goes missing.

Having the appropriate insurance in place can minimise the financial risk, but the disruption to your company and distress to your staff that burglary can cause should put crime prevention high on your list of business priorities. What’s more, policies usually only cover businesses against crime if their premises are secure, meaning that open windows and doors, or failure to set alarms can render them invalid.

So what can you do to tighten up your office security this autumn? Here are some essential tips:

1. Get expert security advice
Invite a local crime prevention officer to your business premises to provide an assessment of your security needs and follow all recommendations.

2. Make employees aware of their responsibilities
Get ownership from your staff by presenting the reasons why they need to be security conscious – the crime prevention officer may also be happy to get involved. Draw up a check list of things they need to look for and actions they need to take to boost security.

3. Ensure all your security measures are applied
Whenever your offices are left unattended, make sure windows and doors are locked, alarms are set and any other key actions are taken, such as locking away high value items where possible, making sure important data is inaccessible and removing IT systems access when employees leave. Coach senior staff on security procedures and make sure one of them is always last out of the office.

4. Regularly update security codes
Changing IT passwords, and entry and alarm codes frequently will help prevent them falling into the wrong hands.

5. Prepare for the worst
Make sure you have a business continuity plan in place that will help you to stay up and running if your office or critical equipment is stolen or damaged.

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*Information correct as of 1st May 2016

Author: Tony Gibbs | January 15th, 2015

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Tony Gibbs

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