Good visibility is one of the foundational aspects of physical office security.
We’ve talked before about how your front desk staff needs clear lines of sight so that they can see who is approaching from a distance, and how entry paths to your business should be free of potential hiding places.
Most businesses don’t have the resources to employ physical security staff throughout the building, and even if they did, it’s impossible to have eyes everywhere at once. That’s where video surveillance comes in.
Small businesses can think that investment in a surveillance system is unwarranted if it doesn’t keep valuable inventory in stock (as retailers would do) or sensitive materials on-site (as manufacturers would do).
However, advances in digital surveillance tools and technology have made security systems much more powerful and affordable than they’ve been in the past, and they can play a significant role in improving safety and security in your office.
Let’s discuss why you might want to invest in a video surveillance system, and what you need to know before you purchase one.
The Benefits of Office Security and Video Surveillance
The fact is that small businesses tend to think they won’t ever be the targets of criminal activity.
As we wrote in our post debunking data security myths, small businesses might think that they don’t have “enough” product to be attractive to thieves, especially compared to other businesses that have more valuable assets.
These assumptions make small businesses the easiest targets for crime because they fail to prepare. When criminals know that a business isn’t likely to have strong security in place, that business becomes an ideal target.
Odds are high that your business will be targeted by criminals in some way at some point. With that in mind, consider the following benefits that extra surveillance can provide.
Theft deterrence – Even if you don’t have what you would consider high-value physical assets, you still have a lot to lose if a thief or corporate spy were to break in. These days, a single stolen laptop can do untold damage in the form of stolen confidential data. To get a better handle on just how much your business can lose financially from security breaches, check out our post How Business Security Pays for Itself.
More employee safety – Security cameras deter potential criminals from trying to sneak in unauthorized entrances, and discourage them from criminal activity just by making them aware that all of their actions are being recorded. And when employees know that there are cameras for office security, it can help them feel safer and more comfortable coming to work.
Lower insurance costs and fraud deterrence – Security cameras can even help prevent insurance fraud. After all, people can’t claim that they slipped and fell on your property if you have a record of them walking in. Some insurance companies may also be willing to give you a discount on your premiums if you can prove that you’ve invested in a quality security surveillance system.
Remote check-ins – Want the peace of mind that comes from being able to check on your facility without the need to be there physically? Modern video surveillance technology gives you the chance to do just that. As we also mentioned in our post Does Your Front Desk Staff Need Emergency Response Training, front desk cameras help your staff assess a potentially dangerous situation from anywhere in the facility. If a front desk employee hits the button because of an intoxicated or disorderly guest, your business can call security to defuse the situation. But if it appears that a robbery is in progress, they’ll realize that they need to call local law enforcement immediately.
Sometimes even the mere presence of cameras in your business can deter potential criminals and fraudsters from following through on criminal plans or making impulsive decisions — even if you don’t have a sophisticated system or robust security staff to monitor the cameras.
Modern Advances in Surveillance Technology
Video surveillance has come a long way from the choppy, grainy systems that required complex wiring and relied on VHS tapes for storage.
Those analog systems have now been replaced much higher-quality digital options. Digital systems (or IP cameras) have simpler wiring needs, fewer limitations on the number of cameras that can be connected, and most importantly, a much clearer image.
Digital Video Recording systems (often referred to as DVRs in the industry) are commonly used by most small businesses that just need one or two cameras. But for those businesses that need more, the Network Video Recorder offers an even more versatile solution. NVRs are powered by servers designed to accommodate constant reading and writing, greater storage, more cameras (which don’t have to be physically connected with the server one by one), and more concurrent users.
What to Know Before You Choose an Office Surveillance System
Before you start your search for a video surveillance system for your office security, you need a clear understanding of which areas of your floorplan you want to monitor, and why.
Your specific monitoring and security needs will determine the types of hardware and software you should look for.
Different types of cameras have different capabilities in regards to how much area they can actually capture. Some cameras are designed to provide 360-degree views, while others are narrower in their visual scope. Some cameras can zoom in and out automatically or manually, and others will stay within their initial focus settings. Some cameras will have a high enough frame rate to capture quickly moving objects such as cars, but others won’t. What you look for will all depend on your office’s unique needs.
If you’re positioning cameras outdoors, you’ll need to find some that can handle moisture and temperature fluctuations without breaking. And if you’ll want to monitor your surveillance at night, you should look for cameras that incorporate infrared technology.
As you select your surveillance system, you also need to consider your plans for growth. If you think you might scale your business up to include more entrances, more buildings, or simply more areas that need to be surveilled in the near future, you should invest in a system that can easily scale up to handle those increased demands. That way, you won’t have to completely overhaul your security system in the midst of that planned growth.
Finally, it’s worth checking in with your business lawyer regarding any local regulations that can affect your rights to record videos of people on your property, and consider posting signs that alert people to the fact they’re being recorded.
Remember that no physical surveillance system can take the place of leadership that invests in office security. Everyone on your staff should understand that security is taken seriously in your workplace, and everyone has a role to play in keeping the office safe and secure.
To learn more about best practices for office security, follow the links below:
- Physical Security Basics for Technology Companies
- 4 Ways Criminals Can Sneak Into Your Office (And How to Stop Them)
- How to Recognize Suspicious Behavior in Your Office Lobby
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