Today, more people are working from home than ever. Whether you’re telecommuting a few days a week or running a home business, don’t forget to plan for your safety.
It’s easy to take your home office security for granted during working hours; it’s light outside and there’s activity on your street. But, did you know that 62 percent of burglaries happen during the hours of 9 am and 3 pm? That’s when a burglar suspects no one is home.
Burglaries aren’t your only risk. Securing business assets and customer information is critical. Above all, ensuring your personal safety is paramount. While your clients may be your first priority, be sure to take these simple precautions to avoid becoming a victim while in your home office.
- Keep doors and windows locked. Burglars are looking for an easy way in. If your home office is in the back or upstairs, you may not hear or see who’s entering and no one wants to be surprised by an intruder. If you work in a back house, studio or converted garage, always keep the door closed and locked.
- Consider an Alarm System if you don’t have one. Even simple DIY door and window alarms that alert you when one has been opened are better than nothing. These can be placed on all doors and first level windows. A professionally monitored alarm system is recommended, and an absolute must for home business that keep inventory, sell high dollar items, handle cash or keep sensitive client information. There’s an excellent chance it will save you money on your home or business insurance as well. Consult a professional security company that will come and do a customized assessment to meet your specific business and personal needs.
- Use your Home Security system. So many people who have alarm systems neglect to actually use them when they’re home. Set your system to “stay” or any similar setting so you can roam freely without active motion detectors. Any connected doors and windows will remain active. Your security system can be incredibly valuable while working from home. By alerting you to an intruder, it can buy you valuable time to find a safe exit and notify authorities.
- Inventory & engrave your equipment. Inventory and photograph all valuable home office equipment including computers, monitors, printers, copiers, cameras, and equipment required for your trade. Keep copies of these items outside of your home, such as in a safe deposit box at the bank. Police suggest you engrave your driver’s license number on the back or bottom of high dollar valuables. This makes them harder to pawn and helps police recover your property easier.
- Control who comes to your home. Meet new clients at a restaurant until you feel comfortable enough to have them in your home. If repair service is needed for copiers, computers or plumbing, try to have someone home when they arrive, or turn a TV on in another room to give the appearance that you aren’t alone. Get the name of the technician who’ll be coming to your home when you schedule it. If the name doesn’t match their ID, have them wait outside while you call the company. If a service tech calls you directly to set up the appointment, get their information and call the company to verify they’re on staff or are an approved contractor.
- Secure your computer and home network. Home security also includes home network security. Keeping your computers and network secure is easier than you may think. Not securing them could compromise your business and client’s sensitive information, potentially costing you money and customers. Install a home office firewall/router if you don’t already have one. They are available online and at big-box retailers where electronics are sold.
- Install a home surveillance system. Security cameras are ideal for keeping an eye on key spots while you work or are away. Watch for deliveries at the front door or monitor inventory storage space. Record and view activity around your home with a remote access service or DVR. Cameras can be easily viewed from your computer as you work or remotely from your smartphone. DIY systems are available or your camera system can be tied into your professionally installed alarm system. Contact a security pro to customize a system to your specific needs.
- Share your calendar. Let someone, a friend, work partner or spouse know when and with whom you have appointments.
- Fire/Smoke Alarms. Having a working smoke detector in each room is just the beginning. If you’re considering a home alarm system or already have one, be sure to include monitored fire protection. In the event of a fire, the monitoring center will quickly dispatch the fire department, saving valuable time. Without it, your alarms will only sound. If you aren’t home, you’ll be relying on a neighbor to smell or see smoke before emergency responders are called. The cost is negligible compared to the price of not having this type of protection. It could be catastrophic to your business. While a burglar discriminates in what he takes, fire will take it all.
- Fire prevention. Use caution when cooking and working. It’s easy to start something on the stove, go to check email, get distracted and remember an hour later that you were cooking. Have a fire extinguisher available on each floor of your home for an emergency. Don’t overload electrical circuits by using multi-plug adapters. Double check recommended wattage on power strips and never use 3-pronged outlet adapters.
- 11. Use caution with deliveries. Always properly identify anyone before opening the door. If you don’t need to sign for a package, ask them to leave it on the door step. If you must sign, never leave the door open to look for a pen and never let the person in your home.
This list is not inclusive of all things that need to be considered for the safety and security of your business, but it’s a good starting point. If you have other ideas not mentioned here, I’d love to hear from you!