There are a lot of "moving parts" to any company. Along with daily operations, office security is a vital part of maintaining a business. Video doorbells and surveillance cameras often protect today's modern, connected homes.
Some of the things you need to keep secure are:
- Business documents containing sensitive information for both you and your clients
- Office computer hardware
- Office supplies and furniture
- Software, both COTS (commercial off the shelf) and proprietary
- Cash or checks stored in the office, including emergency funds, petty cash, and credit cards.
If working on a jobsite like a construction or remodeling project, workers' tools and expensive specialty equipment may also be stored in the office.
When located in an office complex or permanent building, security is fairly straightforward. Many have security staff and check-in points to ensure that only authorized persons are allowed into the office space.
Security cameras and sensors also "patrol" the hallways and outdoor campuses of many businesses, both large and small. Lighting around the outside perimeter helps ensure the security of the premises and any employees inside.
During the off times—in the evenings, night hours, and weekends—many businesses have security staff, both on-premise and mobile units, to keep watch. If no security team is on hand, many companies have LEOs (law enforcement officers) conduct regular checks and patrols.
That's all well and good.
But… what if your office isn't a permanent location?
Here are some tips for portable office security.
But first… what is a portable office?
Portable Office Definition and Characteristics
A portable office, also called a mobile office, is not permanently located or tied down to a specific location. Unlike permanent offices, they are standalone units, not part of a building or complex. They can range from a converted mobile home or travel trailer to a small box truck or van, modified to include office furnishing or equipment. In fact, for some workers, a portable office is little more than the cab of a pickup truck. Sometimes, even a tent set up onsite serves the purpose. But the most secure mobile or portable offices are similar in size and construction to a railcar box or shipping container. In any form, the benefit to a mobile or portable office is it can be set up at a jobsite, then moved to another location when the work project is completed.
You should have a good picture of what a portable or mobile office is. You probably have used one or two of them in your career already.
But, are you sure that your mobile office—either rented or owned—gives your business the security and safety required?
Here are six tips to help secure your mobile office.
1. The Portable Office Should Be Sturdily Constructed
If the portable or mobile office is set up for any length of time, you want it to be sturdy. It needs to be vandal and thief resistant. Of course, that automatically rules out tents. If you don't want to pack home office equipment after work every night, choose something that is sturdier.
Travel trailer and mobile home type offices are sturdier. But compared to a steel box type office, they're still not as robust. Don't forget protection against the elements, either. Consider the wind, rain, and whatever else Mother Nature throws at you.
Sturdy construction is a must.
2. The Portable Office Needs a Sturdy Locking Mechanism
Obviously, if the door to your portable office has a standard keyed doorknob setup, it's not all that secure. They're for keeping honest people, well, honest. Consider adding a deadbolt and make sure it doesn't use the same key as the doorknob. That sounds obvious… but I've seen it done many times.
If the door is made of composite or wood, consider replacing it with a steel door. It's sturdier and more resistant to kicking and hammer blows. Then again, the doorknob mechanism and door jamb are still vulnerable.
It's possible to add a padlock and hasp for extra security. Just remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The padlock may be bolt cutter proof… but what about the hasp? If it can be defeated with a hacksaw or heavy-duty pliers, you've just slowed the burglars down, not stopped them.
A better option is to make it impossible to get to the padlock shank or hasp. Particularly on steel doors and frames, usually found on steel box units, the hasp and lock shank are hidden under a steel cover, preventing easy access.
The harder it is to get to a lock, the less likely the thief will try to thwart it.
3. Don't Forget to Secure the Windows!
You may always remember to close the windows. And maybe even use the window latches to secure them. That's good. But it might not be good enough to prevent entry.
Is your portable office located at a construction site?
Are there rocks or bricks or tools lying around?
Do you see what I’m getting at here?
It might be necessary to install grates or reinforced window grills on all openings. Then, even if the burglar does break the window, he won't get past the bars. Not without spending a whole lot of time. And he's likely in a hurry.
Now that we've looked at the portable office's exterior construction, let's look at some extra security measures.
4. Cameras Are a Great Security Option for Additional Protection
Remember those video doorbells and cameras mentioned earlier regarding today’s modern homes?
They're connected to Wi-Fi and store any videos taken to a secure server on the cloud. Not only that, but they alert the user every time it detects movements made by someone entering the "forbidden zone." With the click of a phone app, you can watch the recording or even the live feed.
And because it has a speaker and mic in the camera, the user can talk directly to the surprised miscreant. With a finger press on the touch screen, it's possible to set off an ear-piercing siren too.
And, did you know they can be tied into security lights?
The lights also come on at night when motion is detected. Two things shadow lurkers hate are lights and sound. And being recorded, too.
Security lighting and cameras are a must-have for any portable or mobile office.
The setup mentioned here is an example for home office use. Consider a commercial system for your jobsite office.
Let's step inside the office for a minute.
5. Secure the Items Inside Your Portable Office
A sturdy safe never hurts, right? Keep sensitive documents, money, and other valuables locked away from sticky fingers. And remember to secure your Internet connection.
As more bookwork, documentation, and communications move to the cloud, data becomes less secure unless protected. Using a firewall and even a VPN (virtual private network) for all things online helps keep your data safe.
If you're working off a laptop, consider purchasing a Kensington lock. It's a small cable and lock setup that attaches to your computer. The cable is looped around a worktable leg or other stationary, secure point and keeps your laptop from "walking off" unannounced.
Yes… sometimes you need portable office security when you're in the office as well.
Lockable cabinets and drawers keep printers, meters, and other smaller devices secure from theft.
One final tip… boots on the ground.
6. You Might Want to Include Human Security Measures
Electronic and physical barriers aside, there's nothing quite like human intervention. There are several options and what you choose depends on your location, the level of security needed, and your budget.
Onsite security, such as a watchman or security guard, will be there whenever the site is unattended by works. Whether your own security or a contracted company, the cost may be prohibitive unless you can justify it.
Some security companies have mobile officers that can check on your portable office and jobsite periodically. They can also be notified when an alarm is triggered. It might be less expensive than onsite personnel.
Of course, periodic visits and patrols by local law enforcement can be arranged. They also have the means of alerting other departments should an incident require it.
What To Do Now that You Know
Check your own mobile office and portable jobsite buildings. What's listed here may be just the beginning.
The security of your jobsite, especially for your portable office, can profoundly impact your ability to do business. Make sure everything necessary is covered.
If you're looking for a sturdy, secure portable office solution, check out the mobile offices available at SiteBox Storage.
Whether you rent or buy, we'll help you configure a mobile office designed to suit your requirements.