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An office (urban object) is a location which accommodates employment facilitating the provision of services.


Office based employment enterprises can occur in a wide variety of urban contexts, ranging from city centre locations (often in the upper floor of retail or services buildings in a High Street or city centre context) to large business parks in peripheral locations and which feature a range of differing employment activities. Locational factors will influence the range of transport modes available and utilised for access to offices.


Modern urban areas have a wide variety of office locations available, dependent on the requirements of the individual tenants. Tenant requirements themselves will vary substantially, of as a result of the type of business or the economic sector within which it operates. Large offices with significant workforces will often require extensive floor spaces; the type of office space required to accommodate this type of operation is therefore more suited to more peripheral locations. In comparison, small offices, with less substantial space requirements, can easily be accommodated anywhere within an urban area, from city centre to peripheral locations.



One of the key social functions of office employment is in the provision of employment for citizens.


The primary economic function of office employment is in the provision of services which create economic activity, employment and generate revenue. Together with residential, retail and industrial areas, office space is one of the most valuable urban spatial structures for the local economy.

Office development creates direct construction activity (primary economic impact, including planning professionals, commercial real estate agents, attorneys, designers, marketing, landscaping, etc). The secondary impact of construction generates business for a variety of business types such as insurance companies, cleaning services, security companies, etc. On the long term, office space creates local jobs, income and taxes generated by the consumption and other spending of office users (e.g. for lunch, office products, office maintenance, etc).


The mobility requirements of offices will depend on the type of service provided and the number of people employed. Offices in central locations will be able to take advantage of public transportation modes, whereas offices in more peripheral locations will be more dependent on private car use.


Safety functions associated with offices, include the usual functions such as:

  • shelter from the environment (weather)
  • prevention and repression of incidents (fires, floods, air quality, etcetera)
  • constructional safety (including the dynamic stresses that large crowds can exert)
  • facilities to assure a timely retreat to a safe environment for the people present in case of incidents (Evacuation Management).

Security Issues

Security issues associated with offices, are related with the fact that it can be an attractive object for thieves. This is related with the presence of valuables, which would be highly dependent of the use of the office. This makes these kinds of urban objects vulnerable for the following security issues:

Other issues that can be associated with offices, such as fraud and white collar crime are not considered relevant in the context of this Securipedia, as they are out of the urban planner's control.

Economic dimension of security threats for Office areas/objects

The most common types of office employment security threats (in terms of human intent) are crime related (e.g., burglary, fraud, white collar crime). Crime generates costs in anticipation of crime (e.g. locks, surveillance, etc.), as a consequence of crime (loss of property) and in response to crime (police investigation, legal system, etc.). As a secondary impact, crime has (amongst others) an impact on the local real estate value.


File:Reception security.jpg
Controlling entry and exit of an office building is one of the most basic security measures

The measures for each type of security issue can be found on the respective pages. There are few measures they are specifically suited or unsuited to this kind of urban object, but some general considerations can be mentioned:

  • As offices are closed (non public) areas, taking measures for exit and entry screening are in general not a problem, as is surveillance, as long privacy is respected
  • For an optimal security policy for the organisation in the office, all aspects of security should be coherently considered in the security strategy. This means that physical/procedural/organisational security measures should be coordinated with cyber/information security and personnel security. If this coordination is not assured, security gaps and overlaps can occur in the security regime, both of which can be detrimental to the level of security.

Economic dimension of security measures for Office areas/objects

Apart from the more traditional security measures such as policing, alarm systems, surveillance and regulatory bodies, the ‘designing out’ approach in the earliest stages in the planning process can be an effective measure to prevent security threats and reduce the economical damage.

Footnotes and references


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