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The ultimate checklist to plan the setup of your new office

What are the main areas to take note when setting up a new office?

Setting up a new office is an effective test of your business planning capacity. It’s like a small project that requires from you to mobilize your budget management, design and visualization skills to incorporate all essentials into a smooth-running workspace.

The new office setup checklist won’t work perfectly if you decide to leave it to chance. Solving problems as they arise can be an exception, but not the rule of a small office set up. Business plans make things easier. But, what if you don’t have an inclusive business plan or just need to open the office immediately without waiting for the plan to be finalized and approved? Checklists save the day for many successful endeavors. New offices are no different.

Here is what you need to think through before you run that startup or small office:

Choose a safe location

Legal requirements are the first to consider when you are setting up a new office in a certain area. It’s not bad to check out the area, such as its crime rates and law enforcement activity. Since health and safety are usually a priority, include them at the top of the new office setup checklist. While picking up a great location, don’t forget to consider other aspects of your small business. Is this a startup that will work in a coworking space? Are your common partners located nearby? Are there any leased offices that could be appropriate without weighing on your startup budget? These factors will help you solidify the new office checklist. You can move the less critical stuff to the bottom of the list and avoid beginner's mistakes of space planning.

Manage security

In the midst of hectic activity, many new managers forget that they need to work in a secure place. Choosing the most effective access control system is a basic business need. If you are renting a space or just sharing a coworking office, you might not be in charge of the access control. You need to get approvals and permissions. In contrast, you can equip your own or your rented space with electronic access control and manage it from your own central network. Choose the right doors and locks and organize the alarms, detectors and video surveillance to serve the needs of your team. At the same time, think of inside security. Do you need to use separate offices or will dividers do? Most startups share an office. In such space, your new office startup checklist should include a simple open layout plan. For security, use locked cabinets. The good thing about modern security is that it got smart, so you won’t have to dig, drill, wire or install complex systems. You can rely on a mobile app.

Access control

When managing security, it is not sufficient to take into account the technology factor only. Nearly any camera or an alarm system can be deactivated, and a locking mechanism can be broken if used as a standalone safety measure. Think of the human factor that in many cases accounts for security breaches and information leaks.

Access control allows employers to find an all-round solution to their safety needs. It serves as an umbrella of multiple security devices, helps maintain effective control over premises, protects assets, and also presupposes user authentication and authorization. This means,  you as an employer can identify your workers’ rights and establish or deny access to certain offices or information based on employees’ role within an organization.

Legacy access control requires investment in servers, wires, and in-house personnel who can supervise work of the system. As opposed to the traditional access control systems cloud-based access control is more cost-effective as it does not entail huge capital expenses. It is more scalable, flexible and spares you the hassle of hardwired components. Moreover, with IP access control you can entrust your security to a service provider who will overlook all the processes all year round, so there’s no need to hire a security manager.


Think workstations, telecommunications, the Internet, and furnishings. These are the basics for a small or a large office. Consider whether you need to get all that stuck in the office space. The limited space should stock up the essentials. It might be wiser to outsource printing, copying or faxing services to an external provider. On the other hand, setting up the Internet connection is one of the first tasks on a new office setup checklist. Do you really need a big kitchen? Which team can share a desk? Who needs to work separately because of security reasons? If you are renting a space, your employees need to accommodate more to the space than vice versa. Visualizing how a day (or a week) at work would look like is a helpful exercise for a worry-free small office set up.

List of office equipment and supplies

Evaluate how much equipment you need based on the size of your team and your sphere of work. Needless to say that a publishing house will have different appliances than a software firm. However, the majority of companies would have to purchase the following supplies:

  • Furniture (desks/chairs/closets, etc.)
  • Office phones and a fax machine
  • Computers and mobile phones (consider implementing BOYD policy to cut down on costs associated with buying the equipment, however, don’t miss on security)
  • Software such as anti-viruses as well as various applications needed to run your business
  • Photocopier (a multi-purpose device is a good idea)
  • A server will make your business run more efficiently (you may go for a cloud option which is a cheaper and almost a hassle-free alternative to the in-house hardware)
  • Whiteboard/projector is a must for better work organization and more powerful presentations
  • Stationery (buy smartly and in bulks)
  • Shredder (don’t forget that confidential documents should be destroyed after they have been used)
  • A coffee machine will serve as a nice perk and boost your employee’s productivity

An example checklist for small offices 

The small office set up plan is a challenging task. With a bit more attention to detail, you can turn the small office into a functional and pleasant space.

‍Maximize the office space with shared desks and easy-to-reach file holders

Pay attention to the following areas:

  • Purchasing vs renting or leasing equipment and services to save costs and space.
  • Design a smart office layout and place teams as neighbors, with easy-to-reach files at hand.
  • Maximize the floor plan by examining the separate areas. Include a reception desk instead of a visitor room, meeting cubicles instead of meeting rooms and kitchen tables that can replace a conference room when free.
  • Remove robust furniture and unnecessary IT equipment. Really think this part through.
  • Maintain safety and security standards by choosing anatomical furniture, proper lighting and workstations, as well as adequate toilets and smart access control.
  • Don’t forget about interior design. If the office is plant or animal-friendly, think of how will this affect the daily work in such a small space.    

You can cut down a long list for a small office set up by paying attention to what you can do by yourself and what it’s best left to others. Small businesses and startups have a lot in common. Check out the startup checklist below for additional insight.

An example checklist that for startups 

A startup office needs to be able to respond to rapidly changing needs. Launching a new startup comes with plenty of risks due to space and budget constraints. We compiled this simple new office startup checklist to help you steer clear of the most common pitfalls:

  • Space ownership. Do you own or lease the workspace? Are you working from home? Can you make alterations? Must you stick to the strict provisions of your lease? Do you need to meet specific security requirements? Have you thought of signing up for a coworking space membership? The answers to this questions will help you decide about the next items on this list.
  • IT and other communication systems. If the answer to the above question included sharing a workspace or renting an office, you will have a couple of fewer items to think of, because many coworking spaces or buildings with offices for rent have already taken care of this through their facility management departments or monthly membership packages. This can include web access, telephone and fax lines, but also air-conditioning, cleaning and food catering services. If you sign such a contract, cross off the IT and the additional services of your office equipment list.
‍Using communication equipment at a coworking space will save you a lot of money
  • Furniture, supplies and stationery. Purchase only the necessary; rely on the rented stuff for basic functioning. You’ll need to think of who will deliver your daily necessities, which can include anything from batteries, paper, toner, cables to food and water. Do you need to buy whiteboards, projectors and copying machines? Can you find a per-hour conference room in the near vicinity that will cost less than using your own full time? Is your startup a busy place with a constant flow of new people? How will you identify, authenticate and grant access to clients, visitors and employees?

You can cut down a long list for a small office set up by paying attention to what you can do by yourself and what it’s best left to others.

What is a good sample checklist for large offices / enterprises?

In a large firm, there are many departments and many people, which calls for space to be organized smartly and efficiently.

When setting up a larger office, consider the following topics:

  • ‍Should there be a separate area for each department?
  • ‍Open space vs. private offices – what suits your business model more?

Office Checklist
‍Open plan offices are more economical and are easier to supervise compared to private offices. However, you should consider that security can be hampered in such a working environment.
  • Create meeting rooms for customers and partners.
  • Common areas where employees can interact, such as a fully-fit kitchen or a lounge with comfortable seats.
  • Access control and how it can be implemented depending on the set up of the offices. The more complex hierarchy within your organization, the more layered access rights to assets and information should be given to your employees.
  • Accessible parking within your company’s vicinity
  • Security needs. Find a reliable access control supplier and make sure you get a scalable and flexible access control system that can be adjusted as your company grows and roles within an organization quickly change.
Kisi Products
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Proximity Readers

Reading RFID, Bluetooth (BLE) or NFC formats connected through a data protocol directly to the access control panel.

proximity reader

Other than understanding a reader, you'll also need to know more about the different types of key cards.

IP Readers

This is a more modern reader type which can be integrated into IT systems.

The Kisi IP reader is connected to PoE and not wired back to an access control panel.

Kisi's IP connected reader - reads secure cards, iOS and Android Apps - PoE based reader with Bluetooth and NFC functionality

Here are details about the four types of proximity readers in more depth:

Standalone proximity readers

Sometimes those readers are called "panel free" because they are fully installed ina decentralized way. Think about it like programming a PIN code for each individual person on each individual reader - it's a great option for very small "quick fix" kind of installations but will generally increase the complexity: You have to go to each and every reader to test and activate the card, you cant control access in real time but would need to deactivate the card on each reader. That's why they often come with PIN pads. 

Kisi's opinion: We don't see anyone using these readers, however they are still being recommended by local locksmiths and integrators. Stay away. 

Wireless proximity readers

Think about hotels - those readers you see on the locks are wireless readers. This means they are not wired to power (battery operated) and you don't have a wired data connection. Typically in the hallways you might see some small access points made by the same brand as the wireless readers - and sometimes the locks itself. That's how the locks connect to an online environment: Via RF (radio frequency) they communicate on a power saving protocol to this access point which is itself connected to the internet. That way you don't have to physically connect each lock but at the same time have real time updated information.

Kisi's opinion: If you don't have 50+ doors, don't even think about doing it. Someone has to update all the batteries in the locks. 

Proximity readers (prox readers)

Proximity readers or commonly called "prox readers" are the most frequently used type of reader in commercial environments. They are universally compatible with pretty much any access control systems, since they typically communicate on a protocol invented around 1974, named "Wiegand Protocol". Conforming to the lowest possible standard comes with the problem that each of those prox readers have been hacked and can be hacked by anyone who follows instructions. Here are some examples: Hack HIDCopy a prox ID card or the Wiegand vulnerability.

Kisi's opinion: Proximity readers are a great "default" for standard environments. However they lack more advanced options which allow for scaleability, security and future readiness.

IP readers (IP connected proximity readers)

Currently the most advanced version of readers - due to their IP connectivity, they can be fully integrated into IT environments. Also data traffic to and from those readers can be controlled and secured easier. Think about the installation similar to any CCTV camera. 

Kisi's opinion: Well we decided to build an IP reader but the reason why we did it is because it is what proximity readers are not: integrateable, future proof, manageable at scale and secure.

IP readers are great for security because there is no direct connection between the reader and the panel. That means the line can not be intercepted / tampered with since everything has to run through your firewall on the switches first before talking to the other device.

Here is an example of how Kisi's IP based Pro Reader is connected. Notice how there is no connection between the reader and the controller.

How do proximity readers work with other components

We get it, you are planning a fancy office, how to specify electric door hardware is the last item on your mental to do list. Always remember, if you’d like to be in a nice office like below, you will always have to unlock the door!

Fancy Office Space

That’s why a lot of construction and architecture companies ask us how to specify electric door hardware into their project. Mostly it also includes swipe card readers from Kisi. When thinking about how to specify electric door hardware it is important to think about more than just the reader. This might be the only visible part to the user). That is exactly the reason why we came up with this guide to make your life as easy as possible.

Some of the hardware products covered in this overview are:

  • Card readers / Proximity readers
  • Controllers
  • Magnetic and mortised locks
  • Doors
  • Safety devices

You can use this guide also to specify electric door hardware that is not manufactured by Kisi, such as HID readers. However keep in mind the vulnerabilities that exist in those products, see posts:

  1. How HID Keycard Can Easily Be Hacked
  2. Wiegand Protocol Vulnerability

Timing: When to specify electric door hardware

The best phase to start looking at this is when your construction company is start drafting the plans. Typically they need to indicate wiring or cable runs. Once the walls are closed you can still install all hardware, but cables need to be pulled when walls are open.

The other critical part is specifying the doors. It is paramount to not specify a sliding door because they mostly do not work with electric door hardware.

Here are the ideal construction related installation requirements for Kisi or electronic door hardware in general. If Kisi comes in to install with a newly constructed space and those requirements are not met we can not guarantee for meeting project deadlines.

Using the floor plan for planning access control

Typically the architect or engineering consultant draws a schematic of the wiring plan including wire runs, where they are dispatched to and any hardware installed. Here are some schematic basics you might want to include:

  1. ReaderMotion sensorPush to exit buttonLockWire

Door planning: In the past it helped many companies to visualize the plans with the specific picture of the existing door. Here is an example:

Overview of Access Control Devices

Specify electric door hardware (locks) to use for swipe card reader compatibility

Any wired lock like electric strike, wired mortise lock or electromagnetic lock should work and can be included in the construction scope. To understand the difference between smart locks and commercial grade access control systems you can look at this comparison, which includes use cases for conntected lock manufacturers like Kevo, Lockitron and August.

Whatever lock you end up choosing, one cable needs to be dispatched to the lock position. This cable will connect the door security hardware AND the motion sensor or push to exit (if required). That’s why we typically recommend to pull CAT5e or CAT6 cable compared to regular low voltage cable. 

We also have a wiring diagram ready in our installation guide. Generally you might look for wiring diagrams for electric door hardware which are included in the document.

Electric strike wiring diagram

Diagram Electric Strike

If it’s for a regular door, installed on the door frame next to the lock.


Magnetic lock wiring diagram

Magnetic Lock Diagram

If it’s for a glass door with magnetic locks, installed on top of the door.

Wired mortise lock wiring diagram

Electric strike diagram

If you’d like to avoid an electric strike and wire the cable through an electric hinge to the wired mortise lock that replaces the regular lock.

Advise on other locks advise

One note about sliding doors: They are NOT recommended. They look very elegant but are absolutely not usable with wired electronic locks.

Generally all locks are wired to a power source. Typically the power source is in the IT – or communications room. However if it’s a small one door installation you could also wire the lock to a power source close to the door. Keep in mind this shouldn’t be accessible for the regular user, otherwise you might end up with manual interference.

Now let’s spec the swipe card reader – or proximity reader

Tap to Unlock by Kisi

Kisi's state-of-the-art swipe card reader is our Pro Reader. For ease of understanding we stick with the industry standard “swipe card reader”.

The first question we typically get is about mounting specs.

Mounting specs of the reader device

A Kisi swipe card reader is on-wall mounted. The Kisi readers come with set screws to mount. The reader cable needs to be dispatched to the reader height next to the door 48” from the floor, with minimum distance of 10” from the door frame.

Wiring diagram for swipe card reader

The next question typically evolves around cables: The Kisi pro reader works best with a wired CAT5e or CAT6 cable pulls from the future position of the swipe card reader to the IT room. Which CAT cable it is doesn’t really matter for us, your cabling company might have preferences depending on quality and distance.

The reader must be installed outside the door on the same side of the door as the door handle. IE: door handle is to the left of the door, install reader to the left of door.

Do you already think “that’s a lot of cable going on here”? I’ve recently been in an office buildout construction site where we took this picture:

CAT6 Cable

That’s around 80 boxes of CAT6 cable. If you ever looked at the price of one box, you know might as well be a small luxury sports car standing around. It’s what it costs. Cabling is not cheap and it shouldn’t be the place where you save, because most likely you will never have a chance to change or edit the cable runs during the entire time of you staying in the office.

Important: The beginning and end of the cable have to be labelled with the door name, so there is no confusion as to which cable to choose.

Option: Front desk wire – Most companies prefer to have a hardwired unlock button at the front desk, so there needs to be a signal cable run to the front desk from the IT room.

Installing access control panels in server / IT room

Ideally Kisi controllers are mounted on a wall mount wood board at a height of 5 to 6 feet above the ground. There needs to be 2 power outlets for every one Kisi controller. 

All wiring must be secured to the wall with a stable gun or wire tie downs. Ideal compatibility is a drop ceiling.

The Pro Controller needs an ethernet CAT5e or CAT6 cable for data connectivity, a twisted pair power cable and enough space for running up to four door signal cables as well as alarm panels and if needed backup power. More details about this in the next paragraphs.

To give you an idea how a very large installation could look like:

Access Control Panel

Sorry to disappoint, typically it never looks that nice, but just keep it in mind as a goal to strive towards.


Power and functionality backup

Very confusing for construction planning to understand are typically the failover power backup systems. Our first advise is always to check if the building has a backup generator for power. That saves all the trouble.  Otherwise for emergency requirements you’d need a 24h backup battery spec’d for the amount of locks you have.

The typical backup battery brand recommendation would be Altronix.

For functionality backup a physical analog backup must be installed in form of manual key override or pin pad.

Connecting fire safety and fire alarm to access control

The fire safety system can be connected with Kisi via dry contacts normally open or normally closed. The fire vendor / architect has to specify emergency push bars where needed. A typical brand used for fire / emergency panels is Bosch.

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