How to secure your office building

For anyone learning how to properly secure their workspace

Evaluate your space

Workplace security is one of the most overlooked but essential parts of safeguarding the health and prosperity of your business. Whether you’ve experienced a security breach or break-in in the past or not, making sure your workplace is properly secured will help to prevent and significantly decrease the chances of an incident.

Keep in mind: Any plan is better than no plan.

Not only will it help you keep sensitive information and property safe, employees and staff will also feel more secure.

In this article, we’ll outline steps you can take to secure your building using the 5 D’s of perimeter security: deter, detect, deny, delay and defend.

But first, you need to have a clear understanding of your specific situation, needs and the resources available to you.

Assess your security situation by considering the following:

Know the gaps

What are the gaps in your current security strategy? If you’ve already experienced a break-in, what information can you take from that incident to inform your new security strategy?

If you haven’t experienced a break-in in the past, it’s time to think like a thief. If you were planning on breaking into your building, which access points would you consider? Are there any blind spots?

Know your area

What are the most common types of crime that occur? What is the frequency of crime? When is it most likely to happen? During the day? At night? On weekends?

Know the risks

What type of crime is your business most vulnerable to? A healthcare facility and a school will most likely attract different types of crime. It’s essential that you do your research on the type of criminal, motive and most common strategies they’ll employ so you can anticipate and prepare in advance. For example: How experienced is this type of criminal(s)? Are they more likely to break-in after hours or blend in as an ordinary visitor?

Know your budget

Consider what your company can actually afford. There is a wide range of high tech alarm, surveillance and access control technology available, but you may not necessarily be able to afford full out, top of the line gear. Knowing what you can afford will give you a better idea of how much manpower you will need to supplement the gaps in your tech backed security.

The 5 D’s of perimeter security

With this assessment of your specific security needs in mind, it’s time to consider which security measures you need to adopt. These 5 fundamentals represent five layers of security you can put in place between your business and an intruder. Use them as a framework when creating your security strategy.

Deter

Visual deterrence is your first line of defense. Most thieves are opportunists and are likely to be deterred if breaking-in appears too difficult.

Some of the most common and effective deterrents include gates, visible surveillance cameras and light and motion sensor exterior lighting. Even signs warning that the area is under surveillance can help deter a thief from trying to enter the premises.

Detect

In the event that a thief bypasses your first line of defense, you must have a strong detection system in place.

Your surveillance equipment should cover all access points to the building. It’s not just windows and doors that should be covered; also avenues of approach, such as pathways or low walls near the back entrance.

When setting up your camera equipment, positioning is key. It’s not just about visual deterrence; it’s about considering what the cameras will actually be capturing. To avoid being caught, an intruder will try to avoid looking directly at cameras and try to conceal their faces with hoods, hats and/or sunglasses. Therefore, if your cameras are only positioned to capture the tops of heads of people entering the building, they won’t be effective.

If you don’t have a dedicated surveillance team monitoring your security cameras, you’ll need to set up event-based monitoring which is set to trigger a system alert if it captures something out of the ordinary, like movement in the hallways after office hours. However, when starting out, a lot of companies have disparate surveillance systems. Make sure your camera system is connected to your access control and alarm systems. If an alarm goes off during an event, you want to be able to pull up the nearest camera to that door or window so you know what’s happening.

Deny

Your third line of defense is your access control. Ideally, only employees and staff should have access, but often lost keys or key cards go unreported. It’s also all too common for former and terminated employees, or even contractors you’ve had working in your office for a week, to still have a key or know an alarm code.

This may seem like an administrative issue, but these are the things that can really create big vulnerabilities for offices. There are three ways you can create a more secure access control policy:

Individualize access codes

When you only have a handful of people, having one shared alarm or door code may seem practical. However, when a code is not individualized to a person, their personal sense of responsibility will be low, making mistakes more likely. Instead, opting to individualize alarm codes increases each individual’s personal sense of responsibility.

Create a system for reporting lost or stolen keys

Sometimes what’s thought to be a misplaced key may unknowingly be the result of theft. Employees or staff may not report this immediately due to other priorities or fear of facing consequences, such as replacement costs.

It’s therefore essential to emphasize and continuously reinforce the importance of reporting lost keys immediately. Make sure it’s clear there will be no consequences for reporting lost keys and what the procedure is (point of contact and information needed).  

Tightly monitor and routinely audit

Access control measures should be regularly updated. Even if you haven’t had any reports of lost or stolen keys, someone who is planning on breaking into the building may have obtained a copy or learned your access codes. As a business, you could have temporary contractors or staff, caterers, repairmen and a number of other unknown person(s) coming in and out of your building on a regular basis. The best way to stay safe is to take precautions.

Delay

Most break-ins are committed by someone who has been inside the building before. Often they’ve seen unattended laptops out on every desk, managed to locate the storage room for extra smartphones and devices or may have had a glimpse of sensitive product developments written on a whiteboard in an empty meeting room.

Even during the work day, when we’re more likely to have our guard down, it’s important to have policies in place to delay a potential theft.

Create a visitor policy requiring each individual to sign in and possibly even wear a badge when they entering the building. This way you’ll be aware of all unknown person(s) in the building at all times.

Secure laptops and monitors to desks. Have locks on cabinets and interior doors to rooms with sensitive information or equipment storage. There should be a policy to always keep these doors and cabinets shut when not in use.

Defend

Along with your technological and physical security measures, it’s important to have trained security guard services that can monitor, carry out your policies and respond in the event of an intrusion.

The number of guards you’ll need will depend on several factors including the size of your building, number of potential blind spots and your specific security needs. For example, if you aren’t able to cover your exterior access points with your surveillance equipment, you may want to set up regular security rounds around the perimeter of your building.

If, on the other hand, your building is in a metropolitan area with limited access points, you may only need one or two guards stationed at the entrance who can focus on maintaining your access control and visitor security policies.


To be as effective as possible, you must brief guards thoroughly on what your security procedures are and what’s expected of them. The best way to do this is by creating a strong security policy that will guide and support the security measures you’re putting in place. Check out our guide on how to create a security program to help you get started.

Michael Ginty
Vice President of Security at Bannerman
Mike Ginty has  dedicated  his  career  to  safety  and security. He started out as a Special Agent and Officer in the  US  Air  Force,  investigating  felony  level  crimes  and matters  of  national  security,  as  well  as  providing anti-terrorism support to force protection overseas.  After leaving the military, he spent time as a contractor with the Department of Homeland Security before beginning his career in corporate security.

Mike  is  a  veteran  of  both  the  security  and  technology industry. He managed Security Operations at Apple, and was  the  founding  member  of  the  safety  and  security team  at  Uber  and  helped  keep  employees,  riders  and drivers  safe  while  the  company  scaled  from  60  to  280 cities worldwide. Mike then became the Head of Safety, Security, and Facilities at AltSchool, where he rolled out a whole new vision of keeping kids safe in and out of the classroom.

Mike  possesses  a  keen  ability  to  evaluate  risk  and implement  right-sized  security  solutions.  He  prides himself  on  a  technology  forward  approach  to  security and  as  such  has  distinguished  himself  as  a  security industry  leader  in  Silicon  Valley. He  has  advised numerous  properties,  organizations,  and  companies,  as well  as  private  organizations  and  family  offices.  He regularly publishes and speaks on topics regarding safety and security.

Mike  as  has  a  BA  from  Boston  College,  and  MA  in National  Security  from  the  Naval  Postgraduate  School, and an MBA from the University of San Francisco.