March 7, 2017

What security measures should you have in place to ensure safe, 24/7 access to your coworking space?

Securing your coworking space is critical to the safety of your members and also the success of your business. Generally, coworking spaces have open hours when the space is monitored by community managers and closed hours when only specific members can access the space. Offering these different tiers of membership mean you can grant your trusted, full-time members 24/7 access to your space and limit the access of drop-ins to regular business hours.

Failing to introduce the proper security measures leaves your coworking space at risk for a breach. It also might mean losing business to local coworking spaces that understand the peace of mind of offering proper security.

Depending on your coworking business model and the membership tiers you offer, you’ll want to adjust your security accordingly. In this post, we analyze how to approach security when your space is open or closed and why you should offer different membership levels to give community members access for either time or both.

Securing your coworking space during business hours

During normal business hours, you can expect more foot traffic in your coworking or shared space. It’s important to have certain systems in place for monitoring who is coming and going. Most spaces first line of defense is the lock on the front door.  If you chose to leave the primary entrances unlocked during these hours, it’s highly recommended that you hire a receptionist (or at least install cameras) to monitor the visitor and member stream. Without these basic checks in place, your space will be susceptible to unauthorized access, member abuse, and theft by non-members.

For enhanced security, you should require members to present a credential (key card or mobile phone) to access the door and then be greeted by the receptionist. Not only is this an analogue two-factor-authentication method, it allows you to use software to track who comes into your space and at what time. This provides added control to restrict when a person or specific membership level can access your space with the click of a mouse.

Connecting systems like Kisi and Optix together offer next-level security. Kisi offers your members seamless access into your venue via their smartphones. Through a native integration, Optix clients can assign different levels of Kisi access to certain tiers of membership. When you build custom plans within your Optix dashboard, you will have the option to link each plan to specific access groups in Kisi. This means that Optix clients can offer certain members keys that will only provide access during your venue’s open hours. That means that a day-time member couldn’t come in on the nights or weekends. This prevents breaches and encourages them to upgrade to a higher membership if they require 24/7 access.

Securing your space after normal business hours

Typically, only the highest paying members (usually full-time members or resident companies) are granted the flexibility to access a coworking space 24/7. This not only makes the highest tiers of membership more attractive, but also restrict temporary members (such as digital nomads or drop-ins) from accessing a space after hours.

This can be a common business and security dilemma for coworking spaces: your venue is more secure when fewer people are coming and going after hours, however you earn more from membership tiers which include 24/7 access. Securing your space during these off hours requires more consideration for the technology you will need if you, as a venue manager, are not in the office. Systems will need to be put in place to offer you complete visibility and control.

After hours, all access points to your space should be locked. There should be one primary ‘after-hours’ door that authorized full-time members can access after hours. Using an access control system, you can add your members to a full-time access group that will give them 24/7 access to that door. In coordination with access control software, you will be able to see who unlocks which doors and which times. With a video system setup, this will allow you connect all the dots: see who unlocks the door and match that to a face in the video log.

Additionally, this door should also be equipped with a door contact sensor to detect if a door is open longer than usual. Such systems can help you avoid ‘piggy backs’ where a door is held open for a long period of time, allowing unauthorized personnel into your space. As a last piece to after hours security, an alarm system should be connected to all access points: doors, windows etc. This adds another layer of defense in case an intrusion attempt is made.

Take the next steps to securing your space

If you’re operating an existing space or considering opening your own, security is of the utmost importance. At the bare minimum, you should only offer membership levels that you can control. Without an access system in place, offering a 24/7 option opens you up to a number of risks. If you don’t have cameras installed and you hand out physical keys to everyone, you will have no way to monitor who accesses your space, and when. However, with the appropriate systems setup, you can automate security and offer flexible membership plans that attract a wide range of coworking member personas. Security doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to work.

About the author

Alex Shamy is the Head of Growth at Kisi Access Control Systems in Brooklyn, NY. He has passion for working with startups to drive growth through product and funnel optimization, align strategic partnerships, and develop innovative marketing strategy. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.