Do I need access control in a small office with fewer than 10 employees?

The security of workplaces and logistics offices should be a priority for every company, regardless of its size or business.
Any threat to office assets or employees can result in heavy losses for the company (insurance coverage, injuries, theft, production downtime).
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The economic fabric of Italy is full of small and medium-sized enterprises, many of which have fewer than 10 employees and co-workers. They are often family-run businesses which the owners have invested all their savings in.

Small businesses are more attractive to thieves because they often do not have the surveillance and access control systems we find in larger companies.

If you think about it, a crime conducted in a company with no suitable access control system could lead to losses and costs that are significantly more onerous than the cost of the system itself.

The advice, therefore, for small businesses is to think about protecting their facilities with a video surveillance system or in-house access management. This advice is even more relevant when a company has expensive equipment or stores digital data which are essential for the day-to-day running of its business.

As well as acting as a deterrent to intruders who threaten the security of your office, an access control system helps optimise management of the people who need to be able to access the offices and other areas of the workplace: employees, co-workers and everyone else who occasionally visits the premises.

sicurezza sul lavoro

Safety in the workplace is also governed by very precise and strict laws and regulations which all companies, even the smallest, have to respect.

If, for instance, a company has hazardous materials on the premises or machinery that must only be operated by experts, the specific legislation for safety in the workplace clearly states that “the number of workers who are, or could be exposed to risk must be kept to a minimum” (Title. I, Chapter III, Section I, Art. 15, para. 1, letter g), and that both day-to-day activities and emergency measures, such as administering first aid, fire prevention measures and evacuation of workers, should be handled appropriately.

The employer and safety officer who organise and manage the business, as required by law, must take appropriate measures “so that only workers who have received adequate instructions and special training are allowed access to the areas that expose them to serious and specific risk” (Title I, Chapter III, Section I, Art. 18, para. 1, letter E).

Watchword: scalability

While larger businesses can afford costly, sophisticated and integrated security systems, small offices need systems that are affordable but reliable and robust. To help contain costs, they should rely as much as possible on the company's existing infrastructure (such as locks and connectivity to the in-house network).

There are countless solutions to make your company more secure, however small it is, which protect the privacy of your employees and visitors, while offering attractive designs that won’t break the bank.

You don’t need large network systems to grant access to those who are entitled to enter but keep unauthorised persons out. And you don’t even need to issue a specific credential for occasional visitors. Doors can be locked and unlocked remotely by authorised personnel.

This kind of solution will give you a low-cost access control system even for one office, which works on just one door and can be scaled up or down when necessary.

Something that is equally important for a small business is how quickly a new system can be installed: office security needs to be set up and implemented as rapidly as possible. So, rather than worrying about budgeting, purchasing and replacing all components, you can choose the right number of readers and devices for your current needs and think about expanding the number of doors and heightening automated access further along the line.

For example, you can add a CCTV camera that sends instant notifications when someone unlocks a door, integrate alarm systems or opt for cloud-based access control.
These are all features that can be added to your system, if necessary, when the need arises:

  • A combination of video surveillance, access control, security lights and manual access interruptions are the four major components of a small office security system
  • High quality physical access equipment such as smart locks, controllers, keypads etc.
  • Video surveillance with security cameras for small offices which covers all the main access points
  • Installation of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and customised protection for sensitive resources like servers and other critical equipment
  • Paper files should be kept in cupboards with restricted access
  • Proper monitoring of the movement of employees and visitors
  • A list of employees and a visitor time log should be kept
  • It is advisable to use access control systems which are compatible with the latest technologies, such as remote access via the cloud and mobile devices

Considerations to make before purchasing an access control system

Before choosing and buying an access control system and all the equipment and infrastructures needed to make it work, take a moment to consider the purpose and size of your business. First ask yourself some general questions and then go into a bit more detail.

Will you grant access only to employees or to consumers and visitors too?

Your starting point should be what you already have in your company: a wooden or glass door will require a different access control system to a metal one.

Is there anyone else who has a say in the security of your company (e.g. bodies or organisations that can carry out inspections of the workplace, insurance companies)?

Then be sure to go into a little more detail about:

1. How are you going to get in and out?

For instance, a stand-alone lock powered by internal rechargeable batteries may be the perfect answer for a door. In just a couple of minutes you have a ready-made security solution for your office without having to knock anything down or do any building work. The flip side of quick installation is that it can be more complicated to configure and manage stand-alone locks in many access control systems. Keypads are another practical and budget-friendly alternative but the risk is greater because of the possibility of sharing the credentials with people who are unauthorised to enter.

2. How are you going to secure the door(s)?

A motorised lock is a practical and convenient solution for interior doors which don’t need an electronic mechanism and there are versions which can also be applied to panic exit devices for emergency exits.

3. How are you going to manage the system?

Before making a decision about your new access control system, you must ask yourself how compatible it is with your current system and all the devices you already have in the company. You should go for solutions which, as explained in the previous paragraph, are compatible with future expansion of the system. Another aspect you should consider is how your new system will be powered and how it will fit in with the general layout of your premises.

For a small business, security does not always equal simplicity:

  • The platform chosen to manage access must be able to incorporate all the relevant components, such as door security, video surveillance, alarm system and lifts
  • It must be flexible, so it can easily be expanded in the future 
  • The system must be compliant with all local building and safety regulations
  • As well as the upfront cost of the entire system, also consider any maintenance and customer service costs

As you can see, it’s not easy. But there are plenty of affordable solutions for you to choose from! You just need to analyse your company’s specific needs with great care.
CISA is with you every stage of the way, helping you analyse your needs and choose the most suitable solution to meet them!

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