By Tania du Toit
The struggling economy is seeing an increase in home business addresses. At the same time safety in South Africa is becoming a more urgent issue and this affects how you should set about your daily transactions at a home office or business. The advice in this article is meant to prevent crime ─ the list is not comprehensive. Invent your own custom-made application.
In addition to standard security by means of security gates, walls, alarms, access intercoms and/or cameras, burglar-proofing, etc., you should consider the following. Become an active member of your neighbourhood watch; carry your functional pager on you, for instance a belt. You probably do not have a security guard (as in the case of business premises in town), but it is advisable to designate a person in your business or inner circle to be physically present and support you. A permanent observer in and around your house while you are doing business can be of great value. Observation, attentiveness and awareness form the foundation of an efficient neighbourhood watch. Do the same for your home office.
Do not offer general street-to-house access; replace a walk-in type of business model. If at all possible, see clients only by appointment ─ indicate this clearly on your street name plate. Do not let unknown or unvetted clients in. Explain your approach to clients. Reasonable people will not stay away because of this. You may perhaps lose (unknown) clients, but safety comes first because you (and your next of kin) live at this address.
Do not keep or handle cash on the premises. Put a clearly visible notice (in at least English) to this effect on your street name plate and website (if you have one). Use safer methods for payments. If you have current, trustworthy clients who insist on paying in cash, do so without other people seeing it or knowing about it. The important thing is that street eyes should see that your premises are cashless.
Do not display stock for all to see. Designate a specific room and/or cupboard to stock and maintain a suitable security routine when stock is acquired. The same goes for laptops and other choice robbery items. Cover your laptop’s camera lens. Determine the business part of your house and stick to it. Make the rest of your house inaccessible to strangers; create your own Fort Knox within your means. Do not see clients after hours. If possible, do not see more than one client at a time.
If it is possible with your business model, product, service and/or premises, allow a (known) client to enter your premises with his car. Nothing attracts criminals faster than vehicles on a pavement. Finalise all arrangements and greetings inside (make your clients used to it) and let them in and out quickly once you’re outside. Better still: let your observer escort the client out.
Allow only one person (yourself, for instance) to handle your telephone or communication to and from outside. Be exceptionally security conscious and do not give out any information unless you know who you are talking to. Do not use music as a so-called “background”. It interferes with your observation. Do not wear expensive jewellery.
Make your (new) security first home business model clear on your website. This will prepare clients should you have found it necessary to make adjustments in order do business differently than before. Regard clients who do not understand the adjustments as clients you can do without: all reasonable South Africans should welcome security considerations ─ it benefits them too.
Huisgenoot. “Dié maatreëls maak jou huis veiliger”: https://www.netwerk24.com/huisgenoot/Jou-lewe/Geldsake/die-maatreels-maak-jou-huis-veiliger-20170528
Irene Farm. “Farm in the City”: http://www.irenefarm.co.za/contact-us/
Property24. “Sect. Title: Working from home rules”: https://www.property24.com/articles/sect-title-working-from-home-rules/13240
Tania du Toit. Owner-manager of two home offices. 25 years experience.
Tuis. “Beveilig jou huis”: https://www.netwerk24.com/tuis/Doen-Dit-Self/beveilig-jou-huis-20170914