Commercial property: Ensuring your headquarters are safe

Whether you own or rent the property, your business headquarters are probably the hub of your business operations.  The chances are, you have put a huge amount of thought and money into choosing commercial premises and furnishing it so that it best suits your business needs, so you need to consider how you can protect your property.

Commercial property law

A major focus today is protecting businesses from cybercrime and technology breaches, but if you lose your property to arson, accident or act of God, the loss of your headquarters could be commercially disastrous. Even if the building itself suffers little damage after a burglary but you lose valuable contents, the financial and reputational loss to your business could be serious. The fact is, data can often be recovered – but physical assets and documents may be lost forever. 

So how can you best protect your business headquarters and minimise the risk of serious commercial loss?

  • Effective research: if you are searching for the perfect business headquarters to buy or rent, consider the market and view as many potential commercial properties or lettings as possible.  Look at the immediate surroundings to see if there are obvious risk factors such as damaged or empty buildings, graffiti and poorly maintained roads;
  • Restricting access: you may need to think about the practicalities of installing lockable gates to restrict access, allowing only authorised personnel to gain access.  Also, look at your staff and any vehicle entrances and exits: are they well-lit and free of trees and bushes that could shield potential trespassers? If so, think about ways to alter these areas to deter criminals and make them safer for your own staff;
  • Round the clock protection: whether or not you have staff working from the premises outside the traditional 9 am to 5 pm working day, the likelihood is you will want to consider how to protect your property during unsocial hours.  This could include installing external and internal CCTV in strategic positions, ensuring there are alarms fitting and, if necessary, linking an alarm to the local police station and to a senior staff member’s home;
  • Deterring determined trespassers: criminals often watch a property before making their move and even the most determined individuals can evade or disable CCTV to gain access undetected.  Think about how you can deter them from taking things from your property, if do they manage to gain access without the alarm being raised, by implementing basic policies and procedures for your staff.   These may include a clear desk policy requiring all staff to ensure files, paperwork, keys, swipe cards, electronic equipment, etc. are cleared from their work stations and safely stored or otherwise protected.

Consider the advantages of a paperless office.  By embracing the right cloud technology, for instance, you can replace paper documents with digital versions which can be stored in the cloud. The absence of visible paperwork can be a strong deterrent to burglars;

  • Carry out regular risk assessments: are you aware of the most vulnerable areas both inside and outside your business headquarters?  Security threats can change, which means regular reviews of the safety and security of the premises is essential so that you can identify any new risk areas and respond accordingly. If you are unsure how to properly risk assess your property, the commercial law experts at Warners Solicitors can advise;
  • Your insurance policy: think about whether your insurance policy adequately and effectively covers the business headquarters and its contents, particularly if new risks are identified.  You should also be aware of any exclusions under your policy which could invalidate your cover. For instance, if a risk occurs which you ought reasonably to have known about if you regularly assessed the risks to the property, your insurer may not pay out; and
  • Staff training: it is almost always the case that without effective staff training, any efforts to protect your business headquarters will be inadequate.  This means you should consider training your staff to understand the risks so they can play their role in protecting your property.   In addition to commercial property advice, our specialist employment colleagues can provide you with invaluable advice about staff training.

What you should do now

Think about how you can best review your security arrangements and the risks to your headquarters.  You should then be able to address those risks effectively so that you can concentrate on running the business itself.  However, you must resist complacency by factoring in the need for periodic risk assessments and up-to-date staff training.

For further information, please contact Warners Solicitors, [email protected], 01732 770660.  Warners Solicitors has offices in Tonbridge and Sevenoaks, Kent.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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