Cubicle Farms are a Terrorism Risk
The British security service MI5 is warning business leaders that their offices are probably badly designed against terrorist bombs. The common modern office consists of large rooms without internal walls, which puts employees at greater risk in the event of terrorist bombs.
From The Scotsman:
The trend towards open-plan offices without internal walls could put employees at increased risk in the event of a terrorist bomb, MI5 has warned business leaders. The advice comes as the Security Service steps up its advice to companies on how to prepare for an attack. MI5 has produced a 40-page leaflet, “Protecting Against Terrorism”, which will be distributed to large businesses and public-sector bodies across Britain. Among the guidance in the pamphlet is that bosses should consider the security implications of getting rid of internal walls.
Open-plan offices are increasingly popular as businesses seek to improve communication and cooperation between employees. But MI5 points out that there are potential risks, too. “If you are converting your building to open-plan accommodation, remember that the removal of internal walls reduces protection against blast and fragments,” the leaflet says.
All businesses should make contingency plans for keeping staff safe in the event of a bomb attack, the Security Service advises. Instead of automatically evacuating staff, companies are recommended to gather workers in a designated “protected space” until the location of the bomb can be confirmed. “Since glass and other fragments may kill or maim at a considerable distance from the centre of a large explosion, moving staff into protected spaces is often safer than evacuating them on to the streets,” the leaflet cautions. Interior rooms with reinforced concrete or masonry walls often make suitable protected spaces, as they tend to remain intact in the event of an explosion outside the building, employers are told. But open-plan offices often lack such places, and can have other effects on emergency planning: “If corridors no longer exist then you may also lose your evacuation routes, assembly or protected spaces, while the new layout will probably affect your bomb threat contingency procedures.” Companies converting to open-plan are told to ensure that there is no significant reduction in staff protection, “for instance by improving glazing protection.”