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As the number of coworking spaces continues to grow, so does the need for effective shared working space security measures. While this type of workspace was once in the minority, coworking has continued to gain traction as the demand for hybrid and remote work is on the rise.

What is a coworking space or flexible workspace? Coworking spaces offer users everything they need to get work done, such as high-speed internet access, meeting rooms and other amenities, without the need for long-term lease contracts. Members can access an inviting atmosphere where they can focus on their work while socializing with like-minded professionals.

However, with this popularity and convenience comes an increased risk of coworking security threats due to the nature of shared spaces. The conveniences of coworking spaces are also what make them vulnerable. Beyond all the bells and whistles, one thing users expect is to be safe and secure.

Before delving into how a business can maximize security for coworking spaces, let’s explore the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of this type of shared office space.

Coworking and flexible workspace security challenges

While shared offices can offer many benefits, many people raise coworking space security concerns. In fact, 48% of people say that lack of privacy is a top issue when it comes to security for coworking spaces. 

Digital shared office security

Coworking and flexible workspaces house a variety of professionals, ranging from freelancers and remote employees to start-up founders and entrepreneurs, all using their own devices. Along with the shared Wi-Fi connection and other cloud-based services, this can present significant risks for data security.

In 2020, the FBI stated that cyberattacks had increased by 400% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts attribute the rising cybercrime partly to the fact that many more people are working remotely, such as pregnant workers or single parents, and often use devices and networks that aren’t as secure. 

Internet security in coworking spaces is especially important, as multiple businesses and professionals are each connecting to their own servers, software and databases through a shared network connection. Operators must be proactive and ensure data and internet security in coworking spaces is as robust as possible. Some options include:

  • Ensuring every user has their own credentials and passwords to connect to the network
  • Implementing two-factor authentication
  • Requiring all users to download an antivirus or malware program on their devices
  • Investing in managed network security solutions from trusted vendors
  • Creating private individualized Wi-Fi networks
  • Instituting security policies members must agree to and follow
  • Soundproofing rooms to allow for confidential discussions

Building security for coworking space

Another shared office security challenge revolves around protecting the physical premises and occupants. Some of the unique challenges include:

  • Round-the-clock access — Coworking spaces that are open 24/7 present unique challenges regarding physical security. With fewer staff members present outside of business hours, there exists an increased opportunity for unauthorized entry. As such, these spaces need to have clearly defined protocols to help ensure access rights and protect valuable assets. This includes limiting the number of accessible entry points, putting restrictions on key distribution, designating off-limit areas and conducting regular inspections.
  • Multiple access points — Managing access points effectively is essential for safeguarding the well-being of any flexible workspace and its occupants. Multiple entries, such as main doors, side entrances and emergency exits, make it difficult to monitor who is entering and exiting the space or recognize suspicious activities. To reduce this shared working space security risk, installing keycard coworking access control systems, or having staff stationed at each entry point, can be a reliable solution to restrict the access of unauthorized people and mitigate potential threats.
  • High foot traffic — With a significant level of foot traffic in coworking and flexible workspaces, it may be difficult to monitor who is present at any given time. This coworking space security challenge is particularly pressing during peak hours as there is an increased flow of people entering and leaving the space. To ensure safety and security for all users, investments in shared working space security systems such as surveillance cameras or visitor management systems can assist coworking spaces with tracking the individuals coming in and out.
  • Equipment and assets — Coworking spaces are full of valuable equipment and assets that must be safeguarded. This includes computers, phones and other devices used by members. With so much traffic, it isn’t difficult for someone to slip in, grab something and disappear. Implementing coworking security systems such as video surveillance, installing strong locks on all equipment cabinets and having staff members present to watch over the space can help protect against potential theft.
  • Visitors — Coworking spaces often host visitors such as potential customers, suppliers and other third-party vendors. Any unknown visitor can pose a security threat. For example, someone touring the facility might have an ulterior motive and be looking to steal information or assets. Therefore, it is essential to have visitor management systems in place to track and register all visitors, along with their contact information. It can also notify occupants when visitors enter the space and track their activity while on the premises.

Enhancing coworking space security with access control systems

Implementing coworking access control systems is critical in safeguarding coworking spaces from potential security threats. Coworking access control solutions such as electronic door locks and key card access systems allow for a secure way to limit who can enter the space. Here are some of the benefits of access control security for coworking and flexible workspaces:

  • Increased security — Access control systems help coworking space operators ensure that only approved individuals can enter and exit the facility. As a result, these shared office security systems reduce the risk of unauthorized entry and theft, and prevent potential security threats from outsiders. 
  • Improved monitoring — Modern access control systems for shared offices provide detailed insight into the comings and goings of a coworking space, allowing operators to identify suspicious activity and deter potential security breaches. Some systems can even alert staff or shared office security personnel if unauthorized individuals attempt to enter the space. They can also provide real-time monitoring to identify who is currently in the facility. 
  • Highly flexible and customizable — The latest coworking access control systems are flexible and customizable, enabling shared office security managers to design a system that meets their specific needs. These coworking security systems allow for changing access rules, granting user permissions, temporary access, smartphone access and setting usage times to restrict access to only authorized personnel. They can also be integrated with additional technologies such as commercial security cameras and alarms.
  • Increased user convenience — Coworking access control systems offer users and staff convenience by providing efficient access to the facility with minimal effort. This includes simple and secure coworking access control with PIN codes, keycards or mobile credentials for mobile access, as well as automatically being able to lock or unlock doors, so users do not need to open or close them manually. All this adds up to an improved user experience coupled with an increased sense of security which can be crucial for the success of coworking spaces.
  • Better management — Modern access control systems incorporate various features that make coworking space owners’ or coworking space managers’ jobs much easier. For example, remote capabilities, such as remotely granting or revoking physical access, allow operators to make changes and even automate access without being physically present at the facility. Additionally, they can keep track of occupancy numbers to optimize space utilization and better understand customer habits in their shared workspace.

Types of coworking access control systems

Access control for coworking security systems come in various forms, from physical keypads to electronic door locks. Here are some options for coworking access control systems:

Keypad coworking access control

Keypad entry systems are a cost-effective shared office access control solution. Coworking space security operators can opt for mechanical keypad locks, which require users to push buttons to enter a code. They are relatively inexpensive but vulnerable to wear and tear. Another option is the modern touchpad lock, which can be controlled remotely via smartphone and enable remote access code updating. 

While keypads are better than nothing, they have some significant drawbacks, including the lack of monitoring capabilities when all users share the same PIN, and a high level of vulnerability to hacking. Furthermore, members can share their PIN with others without authorization, compromising shared office security for all users.

RFID shared office access

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) coworking and flexible workspace access control systems are excellent for managing access to shared office spaces. They can be revoked remotely if someone cancels their membership, making it even easier to ensure no unauthorized users enter the space.

There are some drawbacks to this type of shared working space security system to consider. For one thing, members may pass on their credentials to non-authorized users, making it difficult to keep track of who is entering and leaving the space. Additionally, since RFID cards are easily replicated, this can present a significant security risk, especially for credentials with outdated encryption technology.

Biometric coworking access control systems

These coworking access control systems use biometric data, like fingerprints or facial recognition, to provide entry. This system eliminates the need for keys and cards, ensuring only authorized individuals can enter the space. Although this security solution is highly effective, it may be overkill for a coworking and flexible workspaces, unless specific areas require high levels of security.

For instance, server rooms, data centers and other parts of the coworking space which contain sensitive information or equipment could benefit from biometric access control systems for the staff. In addition, biometric access control systems can also safeguard private offices or conference rooms used for confidential meetings or projects, and assist with timekeeping if needed.

However, in common areas such as kitchens, lobbies or workstations, simpler methods offer a more practical solution. Plus, biometric data can be cumbersome to collect for coworking offices, which usually see high turnover rates for their members. 

Keyless coworking access control 

Keyless coworking and flexible space access offers the most convenience and security in coworking spaces. By relying on smartphones as credentials, users can easily access the space without needing to carry special keys or cards. In addition, the powerful encryption built into smartphones significantly reduces the risk of hacking, and the coworking security system is easily scalable to accommodate changes in membership. 

Remote-controlled coworking access control

Remote cloud-based coworking access control systems are also highly flexible. They allow coworking space security operators to set up custom rules and regulations for different levels of entry, such as giving members with certain membership packages access to restricted areas or scheduling access times for specific areas.

The cloud-based management software also allows operators to manage and configure the system from any location. And since many of these platforms support multiple locations, shared office security operators can easily manage access control for multiple coworking spaces or buildings in one place.

Turnstiles for coworking space security

Security turnstiles can be a great option for coworking and flexible workspaces that have a high level of foot traffic. These security devices only let one person pass through at a time, helping to manage the flow of people entering and exiting the space. Additionally, they act as a physical barrier to deter potential security breaches or unauthorized access.

Turnstiles can also be easily integrated with other coworking access control systems creating a more comprehensive security system that’s simple to manage.

Investing in coworking access control systems

Access control systems are an invaluable asset in protecting flexible workspace security. They provide an effective way to track who has access and can be tailored specifically for the requirements of any shared working space. Shared office security operators have plenty of options to create a customized coworking access control system that’s tailored to the unique needs of their buildings and members.

When determining the best security for coworking space, it is crucial to consider the associated costs, the possibility of scalability and how secure the shared office security system needs to be. Ultimately, these systems are critical for protecting users, equipment, and sensitive information stored in a coworking space, while also giving users the freedom to use the space with ease.

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