Industry Trend or Event to Work Safe at Home
From securing an isolated home office to solo meetings with new clients, here’s how to feel secure on the job.
Jane scheid’s home office epitomizes security. It’s not just the alarm company sign on her lawn and stickers in the windows, the motion-sensor-activated floodlights that illuminate her property, or the lush tropical foliage that impedes a passerby’s view of her home and of the detached cottage where her office is located.
It’s also the two-key deadbolt on her office door (which requires a key to turn from either the outside or inside), and the shades that cover her windows when she works late running her South Florida public relations firm, Jane Scheid Communications. Beside her keyboard is a cell phone. Beside her monitor is a can of Mace.
“I’m just a paranoid person, ” jokes Scheid, who often works from her cottage porch–where she has a clear view of every approaching pedestrian or delivery truck. “Nothing’s probably ever happened because I think about these things. For example burglar alarm, intruder alarm are suitable for prevention and which is the best way to avoid a break-in. ”
You may not be as security-conscious as Scheid, but your situation may not be very different. Both entrepreneurs and telecommuters often work alone, from home offices packed with computer technology and other expensive hardware. The lure for thieves is strong, while security concerns are often an afterthought.
Fortunately, securing a home office doesn’t need to be challenging. It just has to challenge would-be robbers–and provide peace of mind, says Gil Neuman, CEO of Kent Security Services Inc., a security consultancy and service firm based in North Miami. Neuman points out that Scheid’s home office layers different protective features–such as an alarm system, window treatments, and outdoor lighting–to create a blanket of protection. “Common sense is the biggest safety feature, ” he says. “When people do things out of fear, your common sense doesn’t work. ”
Neuman recommends building your security plan atop existing services. If your home has no alarm system, a basic system covering several doors and windows can be purchased for less than $100, plus around $25 a month for monitoring, from a provider such as ADT, Brinks, AmeriTech, or SecurityVillage.com. (Basic systems, however, lack extra security features such as additional keypads for frequently used entrances; contacts for every door and window; and motion, smoke, and glass-breakage detectors.)
If from your office you can’t see who’s at your door, install a peephole in the front door (a wide-angle peephole so you can see people standing off to the side). For a high-tech touch, consider a video camera and intercom that can be wired to show visitors on your PC monitor–and for around $800, Neuman says, can even take digital-video “snapshots” of the last 60 people who rang the bell.
“The more information you can process before you let people in, the safer and better you feel about it” adds Neuman, who encourages people to consider these upgrades even during new home construction–where the cost of a full alarm system averages about $1 per square foot. “I really feel that I’m in control of my home, which is my castle. ”
Similar common sense applies outside your home. When meeting a new client or vendor for the first time, Scheid schedules the get-together at a restaurant or other public location. In fact, only her two longest-held clients have visited her home office, she says: “It’s safer, and personally I just like having that separation–the privacy of not having people see what I have on my property. They could inadvertently say something to the wrong person.