Understanding the critical components of security infrastructure is paramount to your flex-space operation. As more enterprise workers look to flex, having the right tools and partners in place will be integral to attracting new tenants.
We spoke with three experts in the flexible workspace community about approaching this component of the tech stack.
Jack Richer, CEO of payment processing application PlacePay
Kane Willmott, founder and CEO of Canadian workspace brand iQ Offices
James Shannon, Chief Product Officer at essensys
Here are the takeaways. For the full conversation, watch here.
Hierarchy of Security Needs
Tech and security can be abstract, but taking a measured and phased approach can help bring your strategy to life. In research conducted by Instant Offices and essensys, we found common pain points in a flex-space operation that overlap with security challenges. For example, how you approach security infrastructure can alleviate frequent challenges with Wi-Fi and wired connectivity, door access and network access.
Consider the following hierarchy:
Physical Security How are you securing and managing access to the outermost perimeter of your space or building? Tools for Smart Access and visitor management can help control who is in your space and when.
Network Security Do you have visibility and control over the multiple devices connected to your network? Wired and wireless network logins should be managed and monitored around the clock.
Cyber Security Are you prioritizing this critical yet often left behind component of security infrastructure? From malware and payment processing to compliance and phishing attacks, cybersecurity can be a moving target if you don’t have a platform in place to manage the invisible threats on the network.
Varying Tenant Requirements
While enterprise tenants tend to be the most demanding, the panelists agreed size isn’t always the determining factor when it comes to strict IT and security requirements. They also highlighted that larger tenants aren’t necessarily the only ones with enterprise requirements. For example, a startup may scale quickly and request more tech to fit growing needs. The pandemic has changed how enterprise companies think about their HQ. They may take multiple floors or smaller spaces across various locations.
It is critical is to plan from day one for the most complex tenant. When it comes to security, it isn’t easy to quickly put infrastructure in place to react on the spot and retrofit the tech requirements. Think about security early and consider the complete pyramid of needs so you have the confidence to support any customer that walks through the door and the foundation to meet their checklist of requirements.
The Education Process
Some occupiers that are new to flexible office don’t realize there are significant differences and implications for security when they connect to a network. Connecting to Wi-Fi at a coffee shop is not the same as the Wi-Fi at a flexible workspace with proper infrastructure in place. Other occupiers have specific needs dictated by their HQ or compliance departments, such as bringing their own equipment or network.
Having scalable and secure network infrastructure in place better positions you to be flexible on-demand, removing the need for prospects and customers to re-invest in technology upfront, especially if they’re leaving a traditional office behind. Taking prospects and customers through this educational process garners trust and adds value to your proposition.
Not all Risks are Apparent
Security risks are not always visible, making them difficult to quantify, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. As a space provider, you’re liable for ensuring that your space and infrastructure are safe from possible breaches.
With enterprise customers, you’re likely to be responsible for compliance, disclosures, and safely storing account numbers and other sensitive client data. You need to know how and where that information is stored, who has access to it, and what storage protocols are in place for it – whether lock and key or firewalls and limited permissions.
Avoiding Security Breaches
You won’t know the impact of a security breach on your business until it happens, and it’s better not to go down that road. According to IBM the global average cost of a security breach in 2020 was $3.8M. While the cost varies per industry, the biggest hit is to lost business and weakened brand reputation, not to mention the time and operational resources to correct the damage.
Making space and service access simple and frictionless for customers is essential. Anything from printing and adding devices to door access and logging onto Wi-Fi can make or break productivity and a seamless experience. Your tenants will have to interact with the space and at some point, touch the security boundary – think adding a device like a printer, Alexa or a Sonos speaker. The fewer systems and touch-points in the process, the simpler it is to bring new devices onto the network with minimal friction.
Working with a Partner
Technology is a critical component to enabling productive and safe occupier experiences in the office but it can get complicated. Get back to basics. Your function as a space provider is to build and deliver workspace and services to occupiers, not to deal with the nitty-gritty of technology. A partner can effectively manage and monitor the full tech stack, taking that core responsibility off your shoulders while also keeping you up-to-date on industry standards and compliance requirements.
Investing in Security Infrastructure
There aren’t many shortcuts you can take when it comes to reliable security technology and infrastructure. A tech operating model that can support varying IT requirements and companies of all sizes is undoubtedly an investment, one that you can’t skimp on to get it right from day one. But it offers beneficial results to you and your customers such as secure, reliable services, the ability to scale efficiently, confidence in your product, operational simplicity and risk mitigation, among others.
About the Author
I've been writing content about flexible office and technology since 2015 for essensys. My focus is to bring engaging and insightful perspectives to the flexible workspace sector of the commercial real estate industry.
Technology has been pivotal in enabling space providers to meet the growing demand for flexible office space. James Shannon was invited to contribute his technology expertise to Savills’ UK Flexible Office Report – this article sums up his perspectives.
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