It’s fair to say at this point that shared workspaces (or coworking spaces, as they’re also called) represent a sustainable trend. While a given company may come and go, and the coworking space may get oversaturated at some point, the concept has proven to hold a lot of appeal for modern businesses, entrepreneurs, and “gig economy” workers alike. Newsmax dug further into some of the reasons behind its popularity and pointed to several key factors that don’t seem likely to change, including the rising costs of offices, the expansion of remote working opportunities, and more. And that’s all to say nothing of the fact that these spaces just tend to be pleasant.
As much appeal as shared workspaces have, however, they also come with questions about security. For instance, will your business practices be private in an open area with other companies and freelancers around? Are employees’ mobile devices secure there? Can you trust the in-house WiFi that makes the whole facility function? These are perfectly valid questions that you should ask and address before using a coworking space, weather you’re an individual freelancer or a business owner managing 30 employees.
Is There Privacy?
When you see images of coworking spaces, they tend to focus on shared areas: lounges, coffee bars, counters and tables in open space, and so on. There’s a lot of appeal to these areas, but they also introduce the most basic of security concerns that come with coworking, which is that of prying eyes. This is not to suggest you should be paranoid, but the truth is you don’t necessarily know who the people around you are. Might a competitor seek to gain something by witnessing your practices? Might a cyber criminal hang around a place like this specifically to take advantage of the openness?
Fortunately for those who share these concerns, coworking spaces aren’t all about shared areas. Helping to clarify what such facilities are all about, Industrious details various workplace solutions and different workspaces that can be available and makes clear that a business (or individual) can essentially enjoy a chosen degree of privacy. While some details may differ from one coworking company to another, you will generally have he option to book private office space, or larger suites, as needed. Thus, you can keep your company practice as private as you like, and do away with any risk of prying eyes.
Are Mobile Devices Safe?
Mobile devices are simply part of the working world today, and shared workspaces encourage their use. When you set up a space like this for your business, you can make it your own to some degree. But unless you’re running a large company setting up space for the long term, you likely won’t “move in” completely. And that means you’ll be expecting employees to come with their own materials – including whatever laptops, tablets, and/or mobile phones they use to do their work on a day-to-day basis.
Beyond this observation – that shared workspaces can lead to more coming and going of personal devices than a permanent office – there’s nothing about such spaces that specifically puts mobile devices at risk. However, the appropriate way to think about this is that such devices are always at risk these days, whether in a coworking space, a permanent office, or anywhere else. We at Ehacking have covered some of the best ways to secure mobile devices for business use, including multifactor authentication, organization-wide security measures, education about risks, and moree. And we’d encourage any company looking into coworking to embrace these precautions.
Should You Trust The WiFi Network?
In a word, no. But as with mobile device security, WiFi networks anywhere can be vulnerable, and this is by no means a concern unique to coworking spaces. Here, too, it’s simply important to take precautions the same way you ought to if you’re out using the internet at a coffee shop.
The idea of securing devices against network insecurity is something a lot of people are still getting used to, and for an overview of the related concerns and solutions we’d turn to NetMechanics and its detailed coverage of cyber security for small businesses. The company has done a nice job of summing up risks and providing suggestions for how to address them, and can help you to get on the right track whether you’re a small business owner or an individual. Meanwhile, at the very least, be sure to cover the basics before using a coworking space WiFi network: ensure password strength, use two-factor authentication, and find a VPN you trust.
Ultimately, while shared working spaces do introduce a few new considerations, there’s nothing that makes them less secure than any other public area. In fact, they may even offer more privacy than other places you might go to work. However, basic digital security is still a must for any business operation, and this is as true in a coworking space as anywhere else.