Designing the Workplace to Minimize Theft in 4 Steps

Few things are as demoralizing in the workplace as the realization that someone has committed a theft. Theft can take many forms, including information, documents, equipment, and money. But no matter the nature or degree of theft, there is a common element among all of them: they can be prevented. Here are some management and design tips for your workplace that will discourage theft without creating a threatening environment.

Promote good security behaviors

The security of any workplace is as strong as its weakest link. Make sure your employees practice good habits by holding meetings or providing instructional material. Employees should know how to create good passwords for their logins, be aware of safe file-keeping practices, and understand where their belongings go while they work. Provide employees with secure cabinets and storage lockers to be sure that their valuables aren’t easily accessible to any passerby.

Use clear and conspicuous signage

To eliminate confusion and increase safety awareness for your workers in all regards, provide signs wherever they may be relevant. Pay special attention to label access-restricted areas. Have a sign in the break room reminding employees of your company’s policy on missing property as a way to remind them to not leave their stuff loose. Have signs noting whatever forms of surveillance you have whenever they are armed, like cameras or alarm systems; while some believe that noting surveillance might seem oppressive, employees often appreciate the transparency.

Eliminate low-visibility areas

The safest work environment is completely visible. Failing to secure vacant rooms or storage areas while they’re not in use can be inviting to certain people to commit theft when they might not otherwise, depending on how easy they perceive a theft to be. Be wary of unnecessary counters or displays that might block the vision of traffic or security cameras. Employees can quickly become aware of “blind spots” in your security, and some might take advantage of them. Avoid placing décor or merchandise in such a manner that blocks your field of sight from surrounding areas.


Provide plenty of lighting

Generally, the more “open” your workplace feels, the more likely people will be on their best behavior. Keep lights well-maintained and positioned so that they provide no dark nooks or rooms. Plenty of windows and transparent dividers will make the area feel more visible (and help your workplace aesthetic feel more modern). Bright wall colors with a high contrast palette are typically ideal for visibility. But remember: be sure that areas containing sensitive data and equipment are secured and away from the public eye.

Following these tips, you can help to shape your work environment into one that makes employees more security-conscious and accountable for their actions. What other design features do you think would contribute to a more theft-proof work environment?

james andersonJames Anderson is a freelance writer raised in West Virginia who enjoys camping and hiking outdoors with his wife. He currently writes for School Lockers.
Image courtesy BAKOKO

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