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How to: Designing your office’s security plan (with examples)

Basic Risk Management for Your Office Security Plan

Professional risk assessment can be costly. Although you can’t measure your risk assessment skills against pros, you can set the basis of your office security plan by thinking of the basic risks. Use the clear view you have of your office. It will help you compile a document that won’t miss an essential component or skip a key step.

No one knows better than you do about the weak points of the physical location and the area around your office. This is the number-one factor role for creating a security plan for an office that is safe 24/7.

1. Examine the Physical Setting of Your Office  

Clues about potential intruders are everywhere. Keep in mind that intruders fall into several categories. Your physical security on the outside perimeter can be violated by random trespassers, as well as by intentional and carefully planned criminal acts.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t forget that the risks of employee counterproductive behavior and negligence need to find a place in the office security plan. In a large office building, think of less frequent security threats, such as natural disasters or accidents. They are rare, but the impact can be severe and long-lasting. Some office security plan examples are less mundane. For example, if you are in an area with rich wildlife, consider including the extra risks due to the specific location. Case in point, raccoons are not only a health risk, but can also endanger the overall work by messing with electrical cords or damaging mechanical wiring!    

planning office security
‍Even a bird’s nest can create a security problem

Often the first thing where you need to start is the fencing and the gates. Exterior lighting comes second. The outside perimeter is the most sensitive area of all offices: It includes multiple access points that need to be protected with appropriate provisions in your office security plan. It’s not difficult to understand why. Largest security threats come from people you don’t know.

Therefore, this is the starting point for designing an extensive security plan for an office that supports your business with mechanical and electronic access tools. Think of writing a plan that works from a perspective of the people, including all access control systems that are or will be set in your building. The people using it should not get confused.

Define the space to clearly address how will you control the access. This section of the office security plan sets the rules for the basic infrastructure, such as:

  • Manual operations with padlocks or electronic access control system with cards, key fobs and/or mobile phone technology.
  • Activation of lights, sensors and fire alarms on the periphery and integration in the central building areas.
  • Monitoring with CCTV cameras, IP cameras and/or security guards.
  • Assigning appropriate (role-based) access control cards and badges to the employees, contractors and visitors.
  • Integrating the physical security and the cyber asset areas within an overall office security plan.     

Electronic access cards or smartphone access control enable managing physical as well as cyber areas. Decide whether you want to keep the mechanical system separate from the electronic access control platform. Despite the final decision, making this distinction in your security plan for office safeguarding will make all the difference. For example, a web-based access control tools will impact the design of the office security plan. Obviously, thinking about the system and the plan must be done hand-in-hand.

perimeters
‍Securing outside perimeters is a necessary part of any office security plan

If you isolate the cyberspace into a separate section of the plan, you will need to think of assigning secure areas, designing security perimeters as critical protection layers, and establishing responsibilities for key players. Those in charge of critical business data will need to undergo personnel risk assessment. The office information security plan should identify who are the key persons with authorization to provide or grant this type of access.      

2.Put Together the ‘Chain of Command’

The hierarchy of authority is typically set as an integrated part of the text, but there are office security plan examples that go for an alternative: The easiest way to do this is to create a flowchart, insert in an appendix and make it available on several spots across the building.

Apart from a clear visual presentation of the “chain of command” between your departments, the flowchart can be used to define the scope of duties within each role.  Even if it is a very small office with several employees, if you know who does what when a threat occurs, you’ll sleep much better. You’ll know that you’ve created a functional security plan for an office that won’t fail you because of unfortunate planning mishaps.

The plan can augment the flowchart by setting the roles in more detail. For example, you can authorize visitors with temporary and grant your employees permanent access. You can produce loan key cards for suppliers and establish who is in charge of overseeing the authorizations. In fact, most security plans for offices require numerous small planning decisions which need to be adjusted to the department needs.

Make sure you think of identification badges along with the issued cards. People identification is known to be a common security threat. Take time to define badges for employees, contractors and visitors.  Knowing who is who is important.      

3.Monitoring, Maintenance and Reporting

By choosing a software as a part of your access control system, you can manage the maintenance and monitor security events. It’s a general solution for connecting all access points, roles and duties within a single system than being managed internally or remotely. Your office security plan will need to include provisions for responsible managers and employers who will track the system maintenance and performance and monitor events. In a way, it changes the role of security guards or managers by switching the focus from the field to the dashboard.  

Pros and Cons of Office Security Plans  

The advantages of planned office security are many. They don’t relate only to threat assessment and taking appropriate measures to tackle them. An office security plan defines the incident response action you need to complete. But, it also set rules for cooperating with law enforcement, delegating responsibilities to contract agencies, and last but not least - reporting to government authorities. It’s the best place to set clear guidelines and instructions about who does what during varying threat alerts levels.

(Note: The appropriate action you need to take under green, blue, yellow, orange and red alert levels can be posted together with the flowchart for the chain of command).

When done well, security plans for offices guard against one of the worst enemies of office security - panic.

Despite all this planning, many office security plan examples come with shortcomings. Truth be told, because of the human factor at play, you can never rest at ease assured that you’ve made the perfect office security plan. Plan as much as you like, issues arise. Doors get old and locks get damaged. Screening procedures for deliveries or visitors may not work anymore. Coordination and inspection fail.

It is, therefore, a good course of action to test your office security plan from time to time. That’s the point of security exercises. The least favorite task during everyday work can prove of immense value in insecure times.

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