These days, remote work takes all forms. Employees are working in transit, from home offices, and increasingly in co-working spaces. Companies like WeWork, Spaces and Regus have gone mainstream. But just like home offices, co-working spaces present their unique challenges when it comes to securing your employees.
One of the things coworking spaces pride themselves on is their connectivity: most locations boast superfast broadband and great WiFi connections throughout their buildings. Be sure to find out what – if any – network security measures exist when you sign up. Many coworking spaces allocate private networks to each office suite and have another ‘member’ connection for hot-desks. Some even have their web security teams who will audit and strengthen the network for their members. Some, however, rely on guest networks with no password protection. Cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly prevalent, so it’s important to keep up to date with any changes.
The biggest security threat to co-working space is unsecured wifi. The problem is so systemic, that WeWork made headlines in 2019 when it was revealed that thousands of user documents had been exposed. WeWork had been notified of their vulnerable WiFI back in 2015 but failed to take action. This compromised not just their customers, but their customers’ collaborators – many of whom had never stepped inside a co-working space. Among the exposed records were financial reports, government-issued IDs, job applications, business contracts, bank information, etc. They also repeated passwords across locations and did not properly secure them in the WeWork application.
Rather than relying on potentially compromised public wifi, clients need to have a managed wireless service that allows to track anomalous behavior. Managed wireless is a more comprehensive solution than VPNs, which predate IaaS, and are offered via an existing firewall.
Working in a space that is shared with many people whom you do not know is scary. In addition, these people may have guests in the conference rooms for meetings, and potential members will be filtering in and out to observe the space. Most coworking spaces, especially those that understand the needs of their members, understand this concern and deal with it in different ways.
A coworking space with locked doors and 24/7 access only via personal identification is the most secure type of coworking space. Members will receive a key, card or fob for entry, with top coworking spaces even having easy, on-demand door access via smartphone. In this type of space, all guests are required to request access, which will only be granted after they have been identified and their intentions made clear to security or a front-desk manager. There will also be remote management of access control for times when the owner or manager is not physically present.
In addition, all coworking spaces have designated, lockable storage spaces, and if you choose to rent an office within the space, you could lock it up and leave without the fear that there will be intruders.
While working in a collaborative space amongst other entrepreneurs and freelancers increases productivity and creativity, there is a fine line between collaboration and intrusion. Members need to have the physical space to feel safe within the workspace and allow for productivity. Thus, coworking spaces offer different types of space, namely desks and cabin spaces.
If you’re comfortable with others nearby, a desk is perfect for you. If you feel as though you need extra privacy and quiet, choose a cabin space that can only be accessed by you, to feel secure in your coworking space. Higher-end shared workspaces will also have couches, outdoor areas, and chill spots for their members where you can escape to whenever you need that extra bit of personal space and security in the workspace.
After speaking to your coworking provider to find out what security measures they’ve already put in place, go through this checklist: