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How to Evaluate the Privacy and Data Security of a Flexible Office

Posted April 4, 2019 By Pat Olsen

If you’re considering flexible space for your business, privacy and data security is a top concern, especially for financial companies or others dealing with sensitive data. Rightfully so—you want to be sure that everything from the Wi-Fi connection to the shared meeting room setup is secure.

But is that even possible in a shared space? It all depends on the provider. Here’s what to keep in mind when exploring flexible office solutions.

Size considerations

One of biggest factors in choosing an appropriate space is the size of your company. For large companies, it’s likely that you’ll build your own environment in the flexible space. Many flex offices build their IT systems to be segmented but to also have shared resources. However, there are strict standards to adhere to, such as ISO 27001. Rather than sharing resources with the flexible office provider (or ceding part of data security to them), you might request tighter control. Asking if a provider can comply with ISO 27001 and offer the ability to house your network infrastructure within their secured IT rooms is a good place to start when weighing your options.

In addition, if you’re using cloud-based apps, your main concern is the company’s internet pipe to the cloud. You may also be using your own routers, firewall, and other software. The flexible office company should provide an internal private network and static IPs on the public internet, and you’ll insert your firewall between the two and build your VPN tunnels. Your employees will be able to access your private environment, which will be completely segmented from other users in the building.

Touring the Flexible Office

Visiting potential flexible office spaces should include an overview of the IT specifications and capabilities, which allows you to see how their network is set up. “When potential clients see Convene’s flexible workspaces, they’re often surprised at the thought we put into designing the core network infrastructure,” says Paul Di Santi, Senior Network Engineer at Convene. “We provide the ultra fast internet connection the freelancer or startup are looking for, but we offer everything a larger company needs that doesn’t compromise on the network segmentation that these clients are looking for while operating in a multi-tenant environment”

In addition, check to see if the provider has extra rack space, allowing companies to set up their own internet circuits, routers, and switches. Make sure that this equipment is kept in a secured, locked area.

Don’t forget physical security

It’s often easy to get caught up in concerns about digital security and neglect something equally important—the physical security of a space. All the advanced IT security in the world is worthless if someone can walk in off the street and access sensitive data.

Data security starts at the entrance to the building, where access to be limited to employees and registered guests.

While touring a flexible office, check the security procedures in place in the building. Is there front desk security provided by the building? Do visitors have to sign in? Is access to the building restricted by keycards?

Once in the coworking or flexible office space, take a look around at the privacy and security elements that they provide. Privacy filters on meeting rooms should be standard, to prevent those walking by from seeing what’s on your screen. Windows should have blinds available, and individual office suites should have doors that lock. Finally, ask about noise control. It’s hard to keep information secure if everyone in the space can hear what you’re saying at all times.


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