When you think of co-working spaces, the first thing that comes to mind is: Flexible, cool, and trendy.

Co-working spaces are essentially shared workspaces. They offer affordable office space for those looking to escape the isolation of a home office or the distractions of a coffee shop. Many start-up and small businesses will use co-working spaces because it is more affordable and easier to manage growth. There are several different types of members all with different needs.

These shared workspaces offer a suite of office-like amenities such as hot-desks, private meeting rooms, kitchens, coffee and more. Often, they also offer a community.

Co-working spaces don’t come with the high costs and commitments of a traditional office lease. One of the advantages of these spaces is the ability to rent out only what you need vs an entire private office space, which can be costly. Through various membership-based models, costs vary and allow for flexibility. These include options for daily fees or monthly fees. Membership costs also differ based on whether you use a shared desk or want a dedicated one.

How do you physically secure a co-working space?

Designing a security solution for a co-working space has unique challenges.  Depending on the space, they typically do not have onsite security or onsite administrators. The more personnel added to a space, the higher the costs to the members.

With people entering and leaving at different times it is difficult to control security and enforce proper security protocols. There are so many questions to answer when planning a security system for such a dynamic environment:

  1. Who manages the access control system and how if they are not onsite?
  2. How do you assign cards and where do people pick up new cards or replacement cards?
  3. Where does the access control computer and database reside and how do you connect to it?
  4. How do you make sure that people aren’t passing cards around letting in unauthorized visitors to your space?

Installing the right access control system is the first step to ensure that your members feel secure while still enjoying the convenience of your facility.

The last thing you want to do is put in a co-working space security system that causes headaches for your members and the staff that manages the place.

Access Control systems

What does an Access Control System do? 

A co-working space access control system will allow you to manage doors and people entering your space.

You can schedule entry and exit times, set different permission levels for different areas in your coworking space, setup up certain doors to automatically unlock on schedule, and have an audit trail of who entered the location. If members need to book meeting rooms, you can assign them temporary access to that room for the time frame they booked. If there is a storage room or space that is only dedicated to your staff, you can have those doors locked and only give entry permission to authorized personnel.

You can also integrate the access control with video surveillance and ensure that members are not passing cards around to non-authorized people or allowing people to tailgate behind them when they swipe to open the door.

The first step in rolling out the access control system is to define the type of member you are expecting. In a coworking space, this could be a wide variety of groups to set up. Each group will require different types of access levels and different schedules.

Possible Access Control Groups for Members:

Remote Working Drifter 
This is a short-term member who moves around to different cities and countries.  They live and work from anywhere and like to move around a lot.  They create frequent turnover and are more difficult to manage.  This type of member typically needs a daily “pass” and can become an administrative nightmare because you will need someone onsite giving them cards or access to a room.

Remote Office Working Space

Work from Home
This is someone that often works from home but also needs to break up their week and separate work from home. This member will be looking for flexibility but will likely commit to a monthly model. They will require access to the site 24/7 and will likely host clients or visitors a few times a month.

The Startup or Entrepreneur
Startups and entrepreneurs are a great asset for coworking spaces because they are more long-term members. They often start with one or two offices and eventually grow into more space.  They will need meeting rooms or storage rooms and will treat the coworking space more like it’s their own.  These types of members will also require 24/7 access, they will likely host clients a few times a week, and will likely want a more customized experience. As they grow, they will add employees who will also need access to the coworking space.

How to manage this dynamic access control environment?

When designing a co-working space access control system, you will need to take into consideration how the system will work today and how it can grow. If you must add doors and locations, you need to consider how the system will be managed. There are different solutions to hosting an access control system but the card readers and door hardware are pretty much standard across all platforms. The main difference is the way the data is stored and how you access/administer the system.

For a co-working space access control system, the best option is a cloud-based solution such as Brivo as it gives you true flexibility. This is a fully hosted solution in the cloud and can easily be managed and controlled remotely without any network restrictions.  As your facility expands and grows, you can easily add doors with ethernet/WIFI-based controllers such as the Brivo ACS300 Access Control panel or ACS6000 panel for larger door counts. Brivo also integrates with popular coworking software such as Officernd, Nexudus, and Savance. With the integration, it will simply pull the member information from the coworking software into Brivo and let you avoid having to double enter information. If a member cancels or defaults payment, it will automatically disable access to the facility.

Another big benefit of the Brivo platform is the ability to assign cards, fobs, pin codes, or mobile app-based credentials. Cards and key fobs may work well for some members but having the ability to assign a mobile credential remotely will be a big advantage.  People often lose their keys, wallets, and money, but they don’t often lose or forget their phone. In a dynamic environment like co-working spaces, having the ability to log in to the cloud and assign a mobile credential will make it easy for your staff and your members.

Adding Cameras to your Access Control

securing Co-working spaces

You can add Brivo OnAir Cameras to the system in order to tie in a camera with a card reader. This will tie a card reader event, such as access granted, with a video clip of the person walking in. When you log in, right from the main dashboard, you can see who swiped their card and then play the clip of the person.

For larger video surveillance systems, Brivo has a sister company called Eagle Eye Networks which is the leader in true cloud-based video surveillance systems. Brivo OnAir is meant for smaller camera counts, specifically tied to a card access event and Eagle Eye is for larger video surveillance systems. You can still tie cameras into access control, but if you are looking for a more sophisticated video surveillance system that replaces your onsite solution, then Eagle Eye is the way to go.

Many video surveillance providers are moving to cloud-based systems, but EagleEye is one of the few solutions that store the video in the cloud. They’ve been around since 2012 and were doing cloud video before businesses were even considering cloud solutions.

Another crucial security aspect to control in coworking spaces is ensuring data security for your visitors. The same data security measures need to extend to your access control system. A vulnerable access control system can open your whole system to cyber-attacks. Brivo guarantees cybersecurity best practices to govern their applications.

So to summarize, these are some of the thoughts to keep in mind, when planning security for a co-working space. Your prime concerns should be ease of use for your members, ease of administration for your staff, reliability and support from your security integrator and future scalability.

Looking for hassle-free video surveillance or access control solutions for your Coworking space in Toronto? Contact us for a FREE online design session.