Inadequate access control leaves you open to bogus callers. They may be men or women, dressed in overalls or suits. Not only do they pose a threat to your business assets (e.g. theft or sabotage), but there is also the potential for violent attacks on staff or even terrorist attacks.

Your main priorities when it comes to controlling access to your business premises are safety, security, convenience and cost. Whether you are moving to new premises or reviewing your existing access policies, there are a number of issues to consider.

External entrance

It is a good idea to limit the number of outside access points to as few as possible. This limits the areas to be controlled, thereby reducing costs. However, you do need to ensure that you meet health and safety guidance on the required number of fire exits.

Reception area

Always ensure that your reception area is staffed either by a receptionist or security guard. Make suitable cover arrangements for when they cannot be there, such as lunch breaks and holidays.

Control devices

There are a number of access control solutions, including:

  • Key-controlled lock – is suitable for a small number of users requiring infrequent access
  • Coded lock – can be mechanical or electrical and requires a predetermined code to be entered on a keypad to unlock the door
  • Card swipes – are becoming more affordable and use a personal identity card to control access electronically
  • Advanced systems – are available if high level access control is needed, such as systems that read eye patterns, fingerprints and ID badges

Visitors/suppliers

For security and fire safety reasons, it is a good idea to get visitors and suppliers to sign in and out of the building, logging the time and whom they are visiting. Also consider issuing a visitor's badge, and escorting them throughout the building.

Internal access

Employees and visitors should be excluded from certain areas within your premises, such as:

  • Computer/server rooms
  • Data storage areas
  • Stock rooms
  • Wages department
  • Stationery cupboard

These areas are more likely to be the targets of sabotage and theft from both staff and outside intruders.

All hours access

If your business operates around the clock, then ensure that you have in place adequate security and health and safety measures for the quieter periods. Weekend and night access can greatly increase your security overheads, so consider whether this is really necessary.

Staff vigilance

Your access control measures need to be backed up by staff awareness and vigilance for maximum effect. Train staff to be alert, monitor the actions of visitors, and keep valuables (both business and personal) in safe places.