COVID-19

Business security during a temporary closure

Businesses of all sizes have experienced a temporary closure because of these challenging times.  

If your business is among those that have had to lock the doors and either furlough employees or transition to working from home, you naturally have concerns regarding how best to provide a reasonable level of physical security in the workplace while the facility is closed. 

Security challenges for closed businesses 

Business security solutions involve multiple considerations when closing is necessary: 

  • Physical security – including securing entrances, monitoring, and other preventive measures. 
  • Disaster planning – when the worst happens, how do you recover from the damage? Advanced disaster recovery planning includes keeping off-site copies of critical business records, updating contact information for recovery teams, and having phone numbers of necessary authorities readily available. 
  • Information security – for businesses with assets in communications equipment such as internet servers, databases, and digital assets, retain regular backups – preferably off-site or in the cloud – and keep your antivirus and cyberattack defenses active. 

Physical security in the workplace 

Before closing the doors of your business – even for a short time – several steps contribute to your returning to a facility in the same condition as when you left it. Think about closing your business much as you would in securing your home when going on vacation: 

  • Secure all doors and entry points with high-quality locks. Especially when you have entrances that are out of sight, a worthwhile investment is installing steel security doors. 
  • Set timers on lighting to eliminate visible signs that your building is vacant. 
  • Turn off water to avoid damage from leaking or burst pipes. If you must leave water sources active, ensure the building’s temperature will be high enough to prevent freezing. 
  • Avoid the visual impression of absence by keeping the exterior of your business maintained – mow grass, pick up any flyers or papers on the premises, and prevent any surrounding shrubs and landscaping groomed just as you would when the business is open. 
  • If you have a security system, perform applicable test routines to ensure it’s working properly before locking the doors and closing the facility. Notify your security monitoring service that your business will close, including any hours you expect to have someone in the facility. 
  • If you have sensors such as freezer controls that monitor temperature drops, ensure they’re working correctly for notifications while no one is in the building. 
  • Stop mail delivery and regularly pick it up at your local post office to avoid missing important communications, invoices, or customer payments. 

Every business has paperwork or confidential files that are important for day-to-day operations, tax filings, payroll, or legal purposes. Ensure that critical files or information are secured or removed from the facility. 

Network and infrastructure security 

To some extent, most businesses are reliant on network access and IT infrastructure to keep the operation functioning. Online sales, email, and remote access by employees all require a secure network and access to applications.  

When your business needs to close – whether due to disruption, damage, or authority mandates, take steps to provide the resources you and your employees need: 

  • Employees who can work remotely must have secured devices with malware and antivirus protection. Using unsecured personal or home computers can reveal network vulnerabilities, leaving the welcome mat out for cyberthieves. 
  • If you or your employees will access systems remotely, implement a VPN service and software. VPN access will ensure that network activity is encrypted and unavailable to hackers from home or public WiFi connections. 
  • When your business is open, wireless networks provide convenient – even essential – access to business applications and devices your employees count on to conduct business. When you close the doors, wireless access points can provide access points for cybercriminals or hackers who may penetrate your defenses with plenty of time for repeated attempts while you’re away. 
  • Verify your IT security settings are appropriate or adjusted for the access employees will require while your business is closed. You may need to grant additional privileges to some employees while restricting or temporarily removing access to others. 
  • If you have unused devices such as computers or printers during the closure, shut them down and unplug them. This precaution will save on electric bills and avoid potential overheating or malfunctions that could cause fires. 

Planning for business closure 

Preparing for closing your business requires planning. If it’s your business, the responsibility falls on you to have such a business continuity plan that protects your business and your employees. 

  • Establish a plan that lets you keep employees informed when the business will close, how you will communicate updates or changes in work schedules, and when you expect to reopen. Use tools such as Microsoft Teams to meet safely and securely while out of the office. 
  • Finances may be a challenge – paying rent, attempting to provide salaries and insurance to employees, pay vendors, and more. Contact your creditors, vendors, and customers to keep them informed of your closure. You may be able to obtain temporary delays in payments with little or no penalty. 
  • Your employees are the lifeline of the business. If you provide insurance or other benefits, contact your providers to determine if there are alternatives that will benefit your staff while unemployed, such as COBRA plans. Advanced knowledge of options can help you and your employees deal with the stress of a temporary closure. 

Facing and solving security challenges  

Business security solutions require a combination of planning and preparation to protect your facility and its contents: 

  • Provide physical security to prevent access by unauthorized individuals, and alarms that notify authorities of unlawful entry. 
  • Monitor facilities with quality surveillance devices that are well-placed and retain images for a long time. Include motion detection technology. 
  • Implement detection systems that alert of potential damage from smoke, fire, and water to avoid excessive damage from vandalism or natural disasters. 
  • Implement business security for your network – both internally and for remote access. 

Understanding your responsibilities for security in the workplace during a temporary closure will help you and your employees confront the challenges that arise during your downtime. During uncertain times, advanced planning is your best tool to ensure your business and employees are ready to get back to normal when the opportunity comes to reopen. 

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.