While it may seem as though the prevalence of remote work is causing the need for office rentals to collapse, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In many locations, office locations, business premises, and long-term commercial real state projects are thriving. For this reason, it’s good to consider how investing in a space such as this might benefit your own business, and the extent to which you can maximize its value.
“Value,” is subjective, of course. After all, not all buildings are designed to make you money, especially on private premises without public access, but the resources and utilities they bring can ensure your business is able to remain as productive as possible. Moreover, value could also be defined as ensuring the worth and working capabilities of such a business are unimpeded as time goes on.
It’s this that we hope to focus on in this particular post. As improving the safety and convenience of your business premises is essential as time goes on, and as safety is perhaps the most important practical measure to perfect, we hope to help you with such a process in the following advice:
Allow Access To The Building In Stages
Controlling access to your premises is essential, and it’s much easier to do that when you have appropriate entrances and exits. If you can set this up so that your main areas are cordoned off from your main entranceway, perhaps locked with keycard access gates, then you can ensure members of the public cannot simply walk in.
You can also gate access with reception desks, security checkpoints, and employee-only areas where necessary. Of course, it’s important to make sure that this gated access does not interfere with the ability for your staff, and of course anyone else in the premises, to evacuate cleanly and quickly in the event of a fire.
Have An ID & Guess Pass System In Place
It’s smart to have a guest pass and ID system in place, this way you can tell exactly who anyone is when they’re found in your business. Anyone not wearing their identifying badge around a lanyard can be easily seen as someone who needs to either present their pass, or get one from the front desk. In this way, you can clearly see who may or may not be welcome, even those who may not have a full familiarity with everyone in your premises.
It’s also good to offer temporary guest passes to approved visitors, be they maintenance staff, security personnel, auditors, or visitors. After they’ve signed in correctly and their emergency information has been obtained, you can rest easy knowing that everyone in building has been verified.
Sign In & Sign Out Staff For Fire Safety
Having a sign-in and sign-out system in place for staff is a great means of ensuring more accurate tracking for fire safety. This way, those who leave the building can scan themselves out, meaning that in the event of a fire they won’t have to be searched for. This system ensures that all employees are accounted for in the event of an emergency, which helps the fire department to know who may still be in the building, and of course, that may prevent them from having to enter harm’s way.
This system is particularly important in larger organizations where it may be challenging to keep track of everyone. The sign-in and sign-out process can be done using a variety of methods, such as a paper-based system, electronic check-in stations, or through a mobile app. The electronic check-in system can update in real-time, as can the mobile app, and so these are the best two options.
Whatever method is chosen, it should be easy to use, fast, and efficient, to ensure that all employees can be accounted for quickly and accurately, and that you always have a digital headcount available.
Integrate A Capable Intercom System
It’s important that you have an intercom system in place. Intercom conversion can help you integrate such an installation. This way, you can more easily communicate between two sides of the building, or you may implement this alongside a tannoy system to give out very specific and necessary updates to everyone working in or visiting your premises.
This might simply involve learning who to buzz in the building, accepting loading bay deliveries at unexpected times, or giving the security office some heads up before allowing cars to access the car parking space. Intercom systems are direct, and can allow two people to notify one another more easily, which can be simpler, cleaner, and more secure than using mobiles or personal handsets for communications.
Add Map Signage Throughout The Building
Maps and signage are essential for navigating large and complex buildings, and they can drastically reduce how lost unaccompanied visitors, new staff, or outsourced personnel become. These signs can help visitors and staff find their way around the building quickly and easily, because the always-relevant “YOU ARE HERE” sign is perhaps one of the most effective orienteering tools ever devised.
This signage should be placed in strategic locations, such as at entrances, elevators, and stairwells – near landmarks so people can more easily notice their exact location. They should also be easy to read and should include information about emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and other important safety equipment on top of that, just in case it’s needed. Moreover, utilities like restrooms or kitchen areas can also be marked.
Clearly Mark Public Or Waiting Areas
In some cases, your building might not be open to the general public, but you may still need to interface with people you’ve invited in. This is where waiting areas can be so useful, especially near the reception desk, so they can be watched where appropriate.
It’s good to make this space relatively non-offensive and as comfortable as possible, your visitors deserve that after all. A little ambient music, some comforting seats, a restful stop area, and good air quality (perhaps helped through purifiers) can make a big difference. This way, you can meet new interviewees, possible business partners or clients in good spirits. Of course, make certain these areas are capably marked so that anyone using them knows exactly where to go. This will also, by implication, prevent them from accessing any other unnecessary areas.
Make Office Spaces Navigable
It’s important to make your office spaces as navigable as possible, because when people need to get from A to B, being able to do so without stepping on one another’s toes is key. Of course, this is also more than important when it comes to evacuating the premises.
The best way to do this is to leave the outside areas of your office open to walk around and to make sure the desks are oriented in such a way that easy navigation is provided. Without this, it’s easy to zig-zag your way through seemingly endless desks, or to make the layout harder to deal with. The last thing someone needs is to take the long way around simply because two people are speaking in a blocked-off accessway. This not only improves convenience, but safety.
Implement Excellent & Well-Maintained Lighting
Proper lighting is essential, because it can help prevent accidents, deter criminal activity (floodlights can help avoid trespassers at night), as well as providing a safer environment for employees and visitors. Dark corridors can cause people to trip over obstacles or steps they should have seen, and so illumination is a vital safety feature. All areas of your premises should be well-lit, including parking areas, entryways, hallways, stairwells, and other common areas. Of course, this also includes restrooms, kitchen areas, and especially any workshops you have on site.
Additionally, make sure to use high-quality lighting fixtures and bulbs that are energy-efficient and long-lasting.
To ensure your lighting system remains in good condition, it is essential to schedule regular maintenance checks. Regular maintenance checks can help identify any issues with your lighting system and prevent future problems. It is also crucial to replace any bulbs that have burned out or are flickering, as these can be a safety hazard.
Undergo Routine Safety Testing
Ultimately, you can’t expect the regular users of your premises to be perfect in every single safety application unless you train them how to do this. Routine safety testing also means practicing fire drills, showing them how to report maintenance issues so they can be attended to quickly, and how to verify the access of anyone they let into the building.
As with cybersecurity, often the biggest failing in premises security and safety is not a systemic issue, but a human fault. That doesn’t mean you should be worried the entire time, but it does mean reinforcing the essential lessons such as those outlined above, and informing your staff of any changes you make to this systemic approach.
With this advice, you’re sure to improve the safety and convenience of your business premises, in the best possible sense. If you take some time to make this work, you’d be surprised at just how much you can lower incident rates.
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