Work place security tips for reception staff and for people working alone



In addition to their normal duties reception staff also perform a critical role in a building’s overall security plan hereby safeguarding the business, its employees and clients from criminals and other threats. Whilst incidents are rare, working alone can sometimes feel vulnerable.

There are 4 main security and crime threats that reception staff should consider:

  1. Opportunistic crime such as property theft and trespassing
  2. Information theft or destruction
  3. Violent crime such as assault or threats
  4. Emergency incidents such as terrorism, fire or bomb threat/evacuation.


Here are some considerations you can take to stay safe:

  • Read the incident log book and company policy guidance specific to your workplace, as this contains lots of useful information
  • Familiarise yourself with the layout of the building or site where you are working. It is good practice to know what the evacuation plan is along with location of fire extinguishers, fire escapes and first aid equipment
  • Maintain an up-to-date list of contact numbers in the event of an emergency including all occupants of the building
  • If there are multiple entrances, can these be restricted or controlled electronically to allow you to control access in to the building if necessary?Emergency incidents such as terrorism, fire or bomb threat/evacuation.
  • Are common areas well lit? If they are not, report it
  • If a panic alarm is fitted, it should be tested regularly so that you are confident you will get an appropriate response when necessary
  • Always have a means of communication with you, such as a mobile phone, radio or a panic alarm. This equipment is useless unless it is switched on and is worn at all time
  • CCTV systems may act as a deterrent to some crime and may assist in the investigation and prosecution in the event of an incident. It is helpful if reception staff know how to operate the equipment
  • If a CCTV monitor is fitted remain vigilant and monitor it
  • Regularly check the common areas, including toilets, to ensure they are secure and nothing has been left behind. If you find anything suspicious report it
  • Keep doors to rooms that are not being used locked
  • Keep the main desk free of personal belongings or valuables including mobile phones – lock them away or keep them out of sight
  • Lock your workstation before leaving your desk, secure all office keys, alarm codes, company information and equipment
  • Do not leave sensitive or confidential company information in public view. Use a shredder to safely dispose of it
  • Have a procedure for dealing with conflict or problem situations

Visitors and deliveries

  • Controlling access into the building is essential and a receptionist will have a key role to play in issuing passes, monitoring and vetting visitors into the building especially into secure office areas
  • Meeting and greeting guests is an effective form of controlling access to your building
  • Suspicious activity should be reported to security and shared with other businesses. If you see or hear anything that could be terrorist-related trust your instincts and call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.
  • Remember criminals and opportunist thieves are sophisticated in their ability to deceive staff. Remain alert and try not to stereotype what a criminal looks like as they take many guises

Things you can do

  • Have a procedure in place for booking visitors in and out of the building. (Some companies require visitors to pre-book their visit.)
  • Create a visitor pass for each visitor that specifically details who they are and where they are allowed to be. Colour code the pass so that you and other staff can clearly identify who is a visitor
  • Require visitors to be escorted at all times to ensure they do not enter restricted areas.
  • Adopt a ‘challenge culture’ to anybody that is not wearing a visitor pass in your restricted areas
  • Always ensure visitors return their passes before they leave the building. Have a system in place to enable you to account for how many visitor passes have been issued and returned. Notify your management of any missing passes
  • Have a system in place for accepting deliveries to one agreed location, especially those that are unplanned. Do not get distracted – always ask for identification

Working late

  • Stay safe when you are working late – always keep in constant communication with someone
  • If you are the only person working, stay in touch with a colleague, your boss or family members so they are aware of where you are and that you are safe
  • If there is security staff on duty, let them know that you are in the building. You can also ask them to check on you every so often.

When you leave

  • Ensure keys are placed in a secure location, set the alarm and leave the building secure
  • If security is present, inform them that you are leaving the building

Remain vigilant and report anything suspicious – in an emergency call 999

Source: Metropolitan Police Service – Business Crime Reduction Hub & Crime Prevention