Safety Tips for Shared Office Spaces

Downtown Toronto coworking spaces offer a wide range of benefits to small businesses, entrepreneurs looking to escape from their home office, and growing companies looking for a physical address without a lot of overhead costs. While part-time offices provide a range of advantages over renting a single building on your own, it can also present a few safety risks that you should be mindful of. Once you’ve signed your lease, be sure to keep the following safety tips in mind to protect your business and your employees.

Maintain Antivirus Protection

Using a public internet connection puts your device at risk against unwanted attacks. Viruses can make your computer run slowly, prevent your device from booting up, cause data loss, and can even damage parts of your system. In addition, a virus can steal your personal information as well as your customer’s data, and it can send out unintended correspondence to potential clients and spread viruses to other users.

In a public network, if another user’s device on the system gets a virus, it puts your computer at risk. Antivirus software acts as a policing system to prevent against incoming threats and it seeks out and destroys the threat before it attacks your information. Be sure to purchase antivirus protection for every device in your business. Cyber threats evolve on a daily basis, so update the software frequently or set it so it updates automatically. This protects against new viruses as they come out. Most computers have a built-in firewall to safeguard against any external virus attacks. Enable the firewall on your computer so it is used at all times.

Password Protect Electronics

No matter how safe and secure you may feel in your coworking space, there is always the chance someone might try to access data on your device when you step away from your desk. Create strong passwords and store them in a secure location. Never use the same password on more than one device. You may also consider multi-factor authentication.
It’s also a good idea to limit the number of individuals who have access to your device. Avoid letting someone borrow your machine, even if it is someone in the business. It is much easier to track a mistake when only one person has access.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Like any office space, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings in a coworking environment. Don’t leave personal effects lying about. Secure documents and folders in lockers or if possible keep them in a locked office. Keep your door closed and locked even if you are headed to the bathroom, and never give visitors a key. If you use a shared printer, visit the device in a timely manner to retrieve printed pages and pick up faxes. Avoid having business phone conversations about sensitive information in public locations like the breakroom or lobby. Also, when you use a shared boardroom, avoid leaving information on the whiteboard. Check the overhead projector for papers left behind and be sure to always clean up any flyers or brochures.

Utilize Cloud Storage

Save all your important information in the cloud or backup your data at the end of the day into cloud storage. This allows you to access your business information when you travel, makes it possible for you to work from home, and lets you hire other telecommuters to work from remote locations.
Cloud storage keeps your data safe in the event of a disaster and can reduce downtimes. When you decide to open another office or move to a different location, you won’t have to move files. All of your information is readily available anywhere you have a reliable internet connection.

Keep File Sharing Off

Regardless of what type of computer or device you use, be sure to go to your settings and turn off file sharing. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information on your computer. For Mac users, you can locate these settings under system preferences, for Windows devices you can find file sharing under system settings.

Use a VPN on Public Networks

A virtual private network (VPN) lets you send and receive data without giving away your exact location. These programs encrypt your IP address so all of your online activities are untraceable. It also secures your computer’s internet connection to ensure all of the data and communications you’re sending and receiving is protected from prying eyes. This is extremely important when using a public connection to prevent others on the network from eavesdropping. Some of the top VPNs include Cloak, SaferVPN, TunnelBear, and TorGuard.

Make Connections

Get to know others in the building. Be aware of who belongs so it’s easier to spot when intruders come through the door. It also helps to have someone to walk to the car at the end of the day. Not only will you feel more secure when you know others in the building, it also helps to network and earns some word-of-mouth advertising.

Be Courteous to Others

When you utilize coworking spaces you will encounter people from all walks of life. Be mindful of other people throughout the day. Use noise-canceling headphones to prevent disturbing others with music. Also, be careful when wearing perfumes, burning candles, or using scented lotions. Others in the building may have sensitivities to certain scents that can flare allergies and even result in asthma attacks.

Clean Up After Yourself

A messy office space is often a hazardous workspace. Be sure to clean up after yourself. Sweep your area and put litter in its place. Clean up any spills immediately to prevent falls and wipe down any surfaces to help keep the area neat and tidy.

When sharing an office space with other businesses, it’s important to be vigilant and address any safety concerns ahead of time in order to keep your company, your employees, clients, and your belongings protected. Make a list of any potential threats ahead of time and come up with solutions to address these concerns.

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