What Does Open Office Mean for Security? Find Out Now!

Right now, almost 70% of American employees work in an open office environment. Why? The open office was believed to inspire cooperation and creativity, and to maximize space. While productivity and stress experts continue to disagree on the benefits of an open office ( recently ran an article 3 Reasons Why Open Office Plans are Better After All, while Fortune ran The Open Office Concept is Dead) neither side addresses the elephant in the room—safety.

In the News

On June 28, 2018, five people were killed in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. The gunman walked into the building and barricaded the rear exit of the newsroom before he began shooting. The newsroom’s design was open-concept, a popular design choice for news organizations, meant to make it easier for the community to provide news tips.

“There are glass windows all around the room,” Terry Smith, a columnist for the Capital Gazette, told CNN in an article released shortly after the tragedy. “There is nothing except for a few half-walls at the editors’ offices on the left to impede a shooter.”

In addition to the open-concept layout, which left victims exposed, there was no receptionist or access control system the shooter had to bypass to enter the newsroom.

Beautiful, Creative, and Yet

While open-concept spaces may be more creative and attractive, they do present a unique set of security challenges. Their design makes it difficult to seek protective cover and can provide an unobscured sightline to an active shooter. The lack of defined spaces also makes it impossible to lockdown any specific areas.

Physical Security Tips for Open Concept Spaces

Open concept offices are popular all over the US, so understanding the security needs of these spaces is mission critical. Here are some important tips to improve security in the open office environment.

  1. Control the perimeters. Use access control to control who comes onto the property and into the building.
  2. Implement a gunshot detection system, to improve emergency response times.
  3. Cover the perimeter and inside of the property with video surveillance with advanced video analytics.
  4. Always choose professional alarm monitoring which can initiate help, even if the occupants of the building cannot.
  5. Cover windows with an impact resistant protective film that obscures the direct line of sight and provides some protection from attack.
  6. Consider including a safe room in your office plans.

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