It’s likely that your office will be shut for at least a few days over Christmas, while you and your staff take some time off. How to keep your business safe and sound over the holidaysSo it’s important that you make sure your workplace is secure while everyone’s away, otherwise it might not be Santa who visits unexpectedly at the dead of night.

Here are a few tips you might want to follow:

• Be alarmed

It’s worth getting an alarm system to counter the threats of burglary and fire. You should double-check your office insurance policy – it may stipulate you have them and your cover may be invalidated if you haven’t installed them. If you have them you should use them. That might sound obvious, but businesses often don’t, perhaps because the code number may have been lost or the only person who knew how to operate it may have left the firm or gone on holiday.

• Make a security checklist – and make sure everyone follows it

It’s important to have a procedure for locking and securing your workplace, which must be followed by whoever is the last person to leave the office at night – or over the holidays. You’d be surprised by how frequently basic lapses in security occur. A survey of small businesses we conducted a couple of years ago found that 20% of respondents said they had arrived at work to find a window or exit was already open or that the alarm had not been set.

Apart from taking care to lock all exterior doors and arm the alarm system, your windows should have working locks and expensive portable items, such as laptops, which are left in the office while everyone’s away, should be stored securely and out of sight, such as in a locked cupboard.

If your offices are in a serviced block, then before you knock off over Christmas tell the reception staff that you aren’t expecting any visitors or contractors over the holiday period, to minimise the risk of unauthorised visitors while you’re away. Or let the people in the neighbouring units know you’re shutting the offices for a few days and that they should call you at home if they see anything suspicious.

• Do a bit of seasonal DIY

Your business might suffer an enforced extended holiday in early 2013 if your office suffers weather damage while your firm is closed. So it’s worth doing a little maintenance before you shut up over Christmas. To help prevent your pipes from freezing or bursting while you’re away, make sure they’re properly lagged; consider keeping the heating switched on at a low temperature while you’re away; or if you don’t want to take any risks, turn off the water supply and drain the system. Also, take a look around the outside of your office for any potential problems; clear the gutters and drains so they don’t back up with water if there’s heavy rain or snow while the office is closed.