10 Tips to Improve Your Building’s Security
Security is one of the most pressing and consistent concerns for owners of commercial buildings. Whether you have an office building, warehouse, workshop, apartment, or multi-building facility, you’re responsible for protecting the premises and the people within it from harm. As a result, you need to be proactive about preventing criminal acts like burglary, vandalism, theft, and even loitering from taking place in and around your building.
Fortunately, securing your property, as well as the people and assets within it, is far simpler with a thorough and well-designed building security plan for your building. In this post, we share 10 effective tips that will form the backbone of your building’s security measures.
Why Building Security Is Important?
Before we get into the tips, let’s create some context by considering why building security is so important.
Why Is Building Security Important?
Building security is important because it achieves three invaluable objectives: protecting people from harm, preventing your assets from being stolen or damaged, and safeguarding your company’s valuable (and often sensitive) data.
However, the main reason building security is so important is that it decreases the possibility of security threats taking place. By having security procedures, such as surveillance cameras, visible alarms, proper lighting, and a security patrol, you deter potential crimes from occurring in the first place. Such measures cause criminals to take pause and consider a less secure target for their intended crimes.
What Are the Benefits of Building Security?
Building security isn’t only about dealing with a crime once it’s happened but acting as a deterrent. Crimes and their aftermath are costly: not just in financial terms but also in regard to the psychological cost for the victims of said crime. Even if no physical harm came to them, the traumatic memories associated with the event can be significant. It can cause an employee to seek work elsewhere or for a tenant to find a new home.
Building security protects the people within the premises from coming to any harm. This could be protecting them from coming into contact with thieves or from having to confront people damaging the premises.
When it comes to employees, it’s hard for them to do their job effectively if they don’t feel safe while they’re working. Knowing that the building is secure gives them that necessary peace of mind. Better still, the less they’re concerned about their safety, the better the job they can do for your business’ customers and clients and the higher the rate of retention and repeat business, which will ultimately have a positive effect on your company’s profitability.
When it comes to tenants, building security makes them feel safe within their homes and that their family is protected. This helps lower your rate of tenant turnover and gives your residential complex a good reputation, making it easier to attract future tenants.
Another huge benefit of building security is that it protects your business’ assets. Depending on your company, its assets will vary but could include computer hardware, consumer electronics, machinery, tools, cutlery and crockery, etc.
In some cases, a business’ greatest asset is its data – and it has to be protected as fervently as your physical assets. Depending on your business, stolen data could be catastrophic if it fell into the wrong hands, and your hard-earned reputation could be damaged – perhaps severely.
As well as being a deterrent, security equipment like alarms and security cameras help you keep tabs on what’s going on around your premises. They also help security personnel, whether onsite or offsite, know where an incident is taking place so they can investigate.
Is Security Far More Important Than Safety?
Security is just as important as safety because security is a part of safety; they go hand in hand. When you keep the people within your building secure, you’re also keeping them safe.
For instance, by controlling access to the building and keeping close tabs on who’s on the premises, you significantly reduce the risk of an intruder causing harm to one of your employees or tenants. Therefore, you are keeping them safe. Just as importantly, you’re helping them feel safe.
Similarly, a monitoring system and/or patrolling security guard will be responsible for dealing with, or at least reporting, any potential hazards. This could include poor lighting, wet floors, gas leaks, or even a fire.
Is Building Security A Must?
Unlike many health and safety aspects, having security for your building isn’t mandatory – but if you have anything valuable on a premises, then it’s a must. More specifically, the higher the value of what you have to protect, the more essential building security is. And while some business owners may consider some security measures too costly, it only takes the prevention of one theft for that cost to be worthwhile.
To paraphrase the philosopher Seneca, success takes time, while failure can happen in an instant. What that means for you as a company is that it can take years to establish a reputation and become profitable – yet one unfortunate incident could seriously jeopardise that all that hard work.
When you consider that reality, then building security is indeed a must.
How Do I Secure My Office Building?
Now, we’ve established how important here are 10 invaluable tips for improving your building’s security.
Create a Security Management Plan
The first step to making your building more secure is creating a security management plan. This is achieved by conducting a thorough security risk and threat assessment throughout your premises. This will highlight every weakness in your building security and determine the kind of security systems, measures, and equipment you’ll need.
After conducting the assessment, you’ll be able to develop a comprehensive management plan that will plug each of the holes in your building’s security that you’ve identified. An important part of this is creating a protocol, or set of actions, for how to respond to each potential threat. This won’t only apply to security personnel, however, but your employees and/or tenants as well.
With employees, you can communicate your security management plan through a training session, as well as being including it in onboarding for future employees. To make your plan as effective as possible, you should establish workplace policies that support it. For example:
- ID Policy: employees are required to wear their ID at all times while on the premises.
- Clear Desk Policy: clearing all valuable equipment and documents and from their desks and before leaving for the day.
- Delivery Policy: Deliveries should be handed directly to the recipient and not just left unattended.
With tenants, on the other hand, communicating your security plan is a little trickier but far from impossible. You could, for instance, invite them to a meeting that outlines the plan, or create a brief guide, e.g., as a pamphlet that can you can slip through their mailbox.
Control Who Enters Your Building
One of the most crucial aspects of building security is knowing who’s on the premises at any given time, which is achieved through access control management. With an access control management system, you can determine and enforce who has access to the premises, different buildings, and even to particular floors, rooms, and equipment.
Access control management can be carried out manually, where a security guard signs people in and out, or automatically, through electronic equipment. Electronic equipment can take the form of key cards ID badges or more advanced means of identification, like biometric (fingerprint or retinal) scanners.
Often, an access control management system will be a mix of the two, where there’s a guard present and watches people use their access credentials and deals with visitors – particularly in regards to making sure they leave and you get back their temporary access credentials. Another great advantage of access control systems is that they create audit trails that you can use to generate reports in the event of a security breach.
A related aspect to access control is securing the fences around your premises. A weak-looking fence with lots of potential entry points is tempting for potential criminals, while a strong looking fence both creates the impression of a secure building and clearly defines your territorial boundaries.
Use Effective Lighting
Both security and safety are greatly enhanced with proper lighting – both inside and outside your building. For a start, employees and tenants feel safer when an area is well lit, especially in exterior areas like car parks. Plus, they can see where they’re going and what’s around them, allowing them to avoid potential hazards.
Just as importantly, good lighting will make potential intruders feel they’re being watched; it also allows those within the building to see who’s approaching. Consequently, part of your building’s security risk assessment should be identifying dark and poorly lit areas, including the aforementioned car parks, external break areas (e.g., where people take their smoke breaks), stairwells and dark hallways.
Motion-activated lights are a great choice for external areas around your building, as they create the impression that it’s occupied even when no one’s around.
Use A Monitored Alarm System
A monitored alarm system helps to improve your building’s security in a few ways. Firstly, the mere presence of an alarm system can be enough to deter criminals. The sight of alarms around your premises can cause intruders to reconsider the risks of breaking in.
Secondly, on a similar note, if someone attempts to break into your building, the sound caused by the alarm is an even stronger deterrent. The loud noise is disorientating and attracts attention which makes the intruder feel vulnerable.
Thirdly, a monitored alarm system can transmit signals to a mobile device or a monitoring station, alerting the on-duty security guard that there’s been a potential breach. In some cases, the alarm’s signal will be transmitted off-site, where a professional security firm is monitoring your site.
Install Security Cameras
Installing security cameras, like CCTV cameras, significantly improves your building security. For a start, like alarms, security cameras are an effective deterrent for criminal activity. Better yet, they’re more visible and easier to identify than alarms.
However, if a crime does take place, security cameras will record the incident, making it easier for the authorities to catch those responsible and, perhaps, retrieve what they stole. Security footage may also be necessary for claiming on your business insurance and in some cases, it may not be possible to even be insured without having security cameras installed.
Another huge benefit of installing cameras is that they help security personnel do their job. The guard on patrol can observe what’s going on around the premises and act immediately if they see something suspicious. The larger your premises, the bigger the advantage this offers.
However, it’s crucial to strategically position cameras around your building for maximum coverage. Installing cameras incorrectly could inadvertently cause blind spots that competent criminals could capitalise on. To ensure security cameras are in the best position to protect your premises, it’s worth getting a professional to help you install them.
Use High-Quality Locks
Although it makes no sense that a business owner could have lots of expensive equipment inside their building and use locks of average quality – it still happens all too frequently. Locks are one of the most obvious and cost-effective ways of preventing unwanted entry but they’re often overlooked: people just tend to get what’s available at their local hardware store and be done with it.
However, it’s vital to use locks that conform with the Australian lock standard AS4145, as they’re guaranteed to have been rigorously tested. Subsequently, when you’re carrying out a security assessment for your building, check all the locks on each door and window to see if they conform to this standard. However, even if they do, also check their condition if they could do with being replaced, and then upgrade them as soon as possible.
Use A Laptop Lock
On the subject of locks, if you own an office, then it’s worth investing in laptop locks. They’re low-cost, easy to install and should be considered by any company whose employees use laptops. Laptops are highly prized by burglars, as they’re valuable and highly portable, so it’s unwise to leave them unsecured.
Although most employees take their laptops home with them or lock them away, it’s still a good security measure to affix them to their desks when they’re in the office. This offers further protection in the event an employee forgets to put their laptop away – or if an opportunistic thief makes a quick dash through the office.
However, as well as the hardware, laptop locks protect the information contained on the devices. Depending on the nature of your business, this information could be far more valuable than the laptop itself.
Keep Important Documents in Locked Cabinets
Having confidential or sensitive data stolen could be hugely detrimental to your business – especially for your reputation with potential customers or clients. That’s why is it’s so important to keep any important documents in locked cabinets or drawers or cabinets. Having a simple “clear desk” policy as part of your security management plan will help with this immensely, as your staff will get into the habit of locking away important documents.
On a similar note, it’s essential to back up any vital paper documents virtually, by scanning them and keeping copies on a hard drive. That way, if a document is stolen, or merely misplaced, you’ll still possess the data.
Put Cash in a Safe
Always keep cash and other valuable assets in a safe manufactured by a reputable brand like Guardall or Chubbsafes. Also, make sure that the safe is in a secure, monitored room that only a handful of employees have access to.
Biometrics safes are especially secure as they guarantee that a limited amount of people have access to it. They also eliminate the need for a key that could be stolen or misplaced.
Have Your Building Monitored
As alluded to earlier, some security systems are monitored off-site. This is known as back to base monitoring or company monitoring and involves having a professional security company looking after your premises for you.
There are many advantages to this, with the most significant being that someone is watching your premises 24/7, so you don’t have to worry about organising security patrol shifts yourself. Better still, you’ll have experienced security personnel monitoring your building who will be calm and decisive in the event of a crime taking place.
Another huge benefit of professional monitoring is that the security company will install equipment like cameras and alarms for you, making sure they’re in the best locations. They’ll also maintain the equipment and will be alerted if any of it malfunctions – which is far preferable to finding out a camera or alarm isn’t working after a crime has taken place.
A breach in your building’s security can have far-reaching consequences for you, your employees or tenants, and your business as a whole. Being the victim of theft, vandalism, or other criminal acts are not only financially costly but can end up being time-consuming to deal with and compromise your company’s reputation.
Fortunately, as we explored in this post, there are plenty of measures you can take your buildings more secure. If you need some professional advice on boosting your building’s security, contact us for a free onsite inspection, quote, recommendations tailored specifically to your business.