When a coworking space prioritizes protection, security, and privacy, it’s much more appealing to businesses. Companies are looking for ways to maintain these things at all times. That said, ensuring the confidentiality and security of every person who walks through your doors is an arduous task to take on.
But it isn’t impossible. With intentionality, strategy, and transparency, you can ensure companies enjoy a high level of privacy and security when utilizing your coworking space. Here’s how you can protect data and maintain business privacy in any coworking space.
Businesses use coworking spaces for a variety of reasons. For example, owners don’t have to tie themselves to a long-term lease and can instead use fully-functioning coworking spaces on an as-needed basis. There are also tons of networking opportunities for startups in coworking spaces.
Furthermore, companies use coworking spaces to bring their remote team members together. They help mitigate burnout and isolation by encouraging remote workers to get out of the house, collaborate with others, and do their best work.
It’s a good idea to explore the habits, needs and wants of your particular coworking customers so that you can accommodate them adequately. You can absolutely count on requests for a fast, reliable internet connection.
But find out details unique to your clients that will give you ideas about making your space safer and more secure. For example, do they need access to more private or conference rooms? Do they want stricter network access policies? Are more security officers necessary because your clients tend to work overnight? Answer these questions to create a new set of etiquette rules for coworking spaces to meet the needs of your target customers.
Cybersecurity is crucial. The digital world hugely impacts your coworking space. From video conferencing to using the internet nonstop to engaging on mobile devices, companies are online almost all the time. However, this constant internet access can be particularly detrimental for businesses.
Many have fallen victim to cybersecurity attacks that severely affected their business’ reputation. The last thing you want to do is facilitate a cybersecurity breach because your cybersecurity tools aren’t up to par.
Don’t skimp on cybersecurity measures. Equip every laptop, desktop computer, tablet, and other tech devices you allow customers to use with top-tier antivirus software. Employ virtual private networks (VPNs). Use encrypted Wi-Fi and secure it with a strong, unique password that is only distributed to authorized users. You may even install webcam covers to further prevent camera hacks that leak sensitive company info.
It’s also essential to have a plan to mitigate the adverse effects of a cybersecurity attack should one happen. If you couldn’t avoid a cybersecurity breach, at least be in a position to “stop the bleeding” as fast as possible to reestablish customer privacy and security.
You don’t have to talk about passwords each time your customer visits. Instead, reiterate the importance of passwords when maintaining privacy and security in a coworking space when they sign up.
Include a bit in their initial paperwork on how you encourage your customers to always use unique passwords. Ask them to pay attention to who’s around them when using these passwords and never to share them unless it’s with someone trusted. And give them a few tips on how to create stronger passwords that are less likely to be guessed by hackers.
The hardware and software you use in your coworking space will likely need periodic updates to run at their best. When you neglect to maintain updates, your hardware and software become vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
So, lean on your information technology (IT) team to manage all updates. Ensure they’re keeping a schedule for all upcoming updates to your hardware and software and that those updates are carried out without issue. They may even put an automated system in place to ensure there is no lapse in security.
You don’t want a cybersecurity issue, mobile app bug, or tech equipment failure to push your customers back days in productivity. Instead, do what you can to enable all-day IT help at your coworking space.
This may be a bit difficult if your coworking space is open 24/7, but it’s worth the effort if you can find IT workers to cover every shift. When you have someone onsite to handle any IT issues, they can get your customers back to work faster.
Excellent community managers can also help companies maintain privacy when using your coworking space. Community managers are there to ensure your coworking space is running smoothly. They’re also a source of support for your customers.
Community management is a large part of running a flex workspace, like booking rooms, taking payments, checking guests in and out, and making announcements. Ensure the professional you hire knows your coworking space community guidelines as well. Furthermore, your community managers should know who to contact should they be faced with a question, concern, or situation that needs additional assistance.
Many coworking space owners don’t think about this as deeply as they should, but the layout of your coworking space can enable customer privacy and security. You should spend time thinking about the design of your coworking space and what you would need to add or take away from it to give your customers more privacy. For example, maybe you need to add additional private rooms to offset how big your open workspace is.
Adding code locks on your private and conference room doors could offer more privacy and security for your customers. Or, maybe you need to add soundproofing to your walls so that customers can’t hear each other through them — keeping their spoken information safe, as well.
Putting physical protections in place is also essential for maintaining privacy and security. For example, as much as they’d like to be, some companies aren’t entirely digital. They use paper files. And those files often have sensitive or confidential information within them. Thus, you need a process for properly disposing of these paper files.
Shredders throughout your coworking space are great. But an off-site shredding service is even better because they guarantee the destruction of sensitive documents. The company provides secure shred bins. You schedule a time for them to be picked up, and they take care of the rest.
The following physical protections are also a great idea to help maintain privacy and security in your coworking space:
The more tangible protection installed, the safer businesses will feel using your space.
Creating guidelines for your coworking space is essential for a well-run coworking space. These rules can also positively impact the privacy and security of your customers, establishing expectations right out of the gate.
Think about how you want your customers to conduct themselves in your coworking space. What personal safety behaviors in a coworking space can you ask of them to help everyone maintain their privacy and safety? Document your recommendations in the simplest way possible and distribute these guidelines to every customer to ensure everyone is on the same page. It’s also important to talk about the process for complaints, concerns, and violations of community guidelines.
As trustworthy as your coworking space community may be, your customers still shouldn’t be leaving their workspaces and belongings unattended. Instead, give them guidelines for what to do when they have to leave their workspace temporarily.
For example, customers should always lock their laptops and computer screens when they step away from their workspaces to keep what they’re working on private. If they’re mingling with others, they should always keep an eye on their things. And if they have to leave the building, they must bring all of their belongings with them. It’s also wise to encourage the use of private rooms and spaces.
It can be difficult to maintain privacy in an open workspace. That’s why it’s essential to have private rooms and quiet spaces throughout your coworking space so that your customers have the option of something more secure when they need it.
Encourage customers to use your private rooms, booths, and conference rooms. Consider offering discounts to those who use your private rooms and spaces regularly. You could also provide the option to book out your entire coworking space daily or hourly should companies need that extra layer of privacy and security.
Finally, it’s best to always alert customers as soon as something goes awry. Cybersecurity breaches, unruly customers, and safety concerns happen. And that’s okay. Transparency is critical in these situations. When you don’t tell your customers what happened and how it affected or will affect them, they’ll lose trust in you. And that could lead them not to come back to your coworking space.
Instead of hiding it if something happens, be open about it. Immediately communicate with your customers about the situation. Also, share details about how you will rectify the incident now and prevent it from happening in the future.
Companies love the flexibility, collaboration, and openness coworking spaces inspire. Still, there are concerns about maintaining privacy, security, and safety in these spaces — and rightfully so. Fortunately, you can use the tips above to ensure companies that use your coworking space enjoy top-tier security and privacy.