Co-working spaces have become an important part of the gig economy.
One business (like WeWork, Impact Hub, or Regus) leases out portions of its site to multiple tenants, which can include startups, small businesses, remote workers and individual freelancers. Depending on the company, this sort of arrangement can mean a rental of office space, a rental of desk space, or even a membership that offers access to communal working space.
While that sort of arrangement can save a company, it also poses security concerns. If you have a shared workspace, how do you know who is in the building and if they are supposed to be there? If one tenant has a termination, how do you know they have been terminated? If an employee from one startup sexually harasses an employee from another, who should the complaint go to, and whose policies should govern the investigation?
Badges, Logs & Escorts: Best Practices for Visitor Management
Who is in charge of policy when several companies share space?
When you’re considering security in coworking spaces, it helps to think about the tenants at those sites. Coworking spaces tend to be used by startups to keep costs low.
Startups are young companies, with small, rapidly shifting workforces. They’re often tightly focused on their company’s Big Idea, which means they haven’t had the time or resources to give thought to the business side of their organization. They may not have Human Resources personnel or policies, and they may not have thought ahead to security issues that involve assaults, theft, or harassment. They are very unlikely to have security badges or a head of security.
That means security and safety policies must become the responsibility of the landlord, or the company in charge of the coworking space. That way, every tenant — no matter what their business structure is – is subject to the same set of policies. There’s also central authority when it comes to keeping people safe and secure.
Good policy is safety: Best practices for policy review
Best practices for managing security at co-working sites
Background checks: Know who is in your building. Before renting out space to any tenants, landlords should do a thorough background check to make sure all companies are legitimate, viable companies.
Have a set of safety policies in place for your tenants: As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to make sure your co-working tenants are safe and trained when it comes to your security policies. You should have policies for active shooters, not bringing weapons to the site, Covid-19 safety precautions, and other policies essential to the safety and well-being of the people who are working in your building. Make it a condition of their lease — if your tenants want to work in your space, they must accept that your policies are now their policies.
Visitor management: Startups are young, growing companies. There are people coming in and out constantly: contractors, new hires, temporary workers, clients. There may also be rapid turnover. In order to know who is in your building, a co-working site needs to know who has access to each tenant’s space, who has been hired, who has been fired, and who is a visitor. You should adhere to good visitor management practices, requiring badges and maintaining a visitor log. There should be a single entrance through which everyone enters and exits.
Package and parcel control: Packages and parcels should come into a single location, before being distributed. Monitoring equipment should also be used to make sure the parcels aren’t dangerous.
Cameras: Because so many people come in and out of co-working spaces, it’s important to provide camera coverage for the whole space to minimize theft.
Plan to be the ombudsman for your tenants: Your tenants are different companies and may have conflicting values. As landlord, you need to be the arbiter of these complaints, especially when it comes to issues like sexual harassment, hate speech, or other hostile and toxic behavior that may escalate and endanger the co-workers in your space.
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