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Designing physical security for any facility requires layers of security measures to protect buildings, property, assets, and people against intrusion. These measures must include protecting the outer perimeter, the inner perimeter, and the building’s interior. In some structures, such as buildings that have adopted the open office concept, meeting these security needs has some unique challenges.

The Challenge of  Open Concept Security

In an open office, everyone works in one large room. While this does allow for easier communication and collaboration, there are no walls or locked doors to impede any intruders.

The open office concept requires different security considerations from the traditional style individual office concept. In open office planning, an entire open area must be treated in its entirety, with a strong outer perimeter.

Making Headlines

Examples of security challenges in open concept buildings are not difficult to find. Recently, on June 28, 2018, five people were killed in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. The gunman walked into the building and barricaded the rear exit of the newsroom before he began shooting. The newsroom’s design was open-concept, a popular design choice for news organizations, meant to make it easier for the community to provide news tips.


“There are glass windows all around the room,” Terry Smith, a columnist for the Capital Gazette, told CNN in an article released shortly after the tragedy. “There is nothing except for a few half-walls at the editors’ offices on the left to impede a shooter.”

In addition to the open-concept layout, which left victims exposed, there was no receptionist or access control system the shooter had to bypass to enter the newsroom.

Top Considerations in Open Concept Buildings

From a physical security perspective, open-concept buildings present a unique set of serious challenges. Their design makes it difficult to seek protective cover and provide an unobscured sightline to an active shooter. The lack of defined spaces also makes it impossible to lockdown any specific areas. This makes perimeter control of heightened importance.

Open concept offices are popular all over the US with nearly 70% of American employees working in an open office environment, so understanding the security needs of these spaces is mission critical. Here are some important tips to improve security in the open office environment.

  1. Control the perimeters. Use access control to control who comes onto the property and into the building.
  2. Implement a gunshot detection alarm system.
  3. Cover the perimeter and inside of the property with video surveillance with advanced video analytics.
  4. Always choose professional alarm monitoring which can initiate help, even if the occupants of the building cannot.
  5. Cover windows with a protective film that obscures the direct line of sight.
  6. Consider including a safe room in your office plans.

If you have questions about security for open concept security, please contact us today!

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