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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

5 Ways To Prevent A Business Lockout

by Wesley May 9, 2022

Limiting risk while managing employees is part of the everyday routine that makes people in the commercial business sector successful. You always want things running as smoothly as possible at all times to boost efficiency. But what happens when an unexpected business lockout occurs?

Whenever a business is not operating at peak performance, there is always a reason why. Being locked out of the office is one of these major setbacks your business can face without a prevention plan already in the works. It is instances like these that force companies to pay close attention to the state of their commercial security.

Locked out of the office is not something you can predict either. It could come at the most inconvenient time, and that is why you need a plan. Here are five ways to prevent a business lockout:

  1. Spare Keys
  2. Employee Directory
  3. Accessible Tools
  4. Security Budget
  5. Commercial Locksmith

Sometimes office building lockouts are not entirely preventable, but this comprehensive list will prepare you for all circumstances. But before we begin with the list, let us answer some important questions about being locked out of your office.


How do you unlock a locked office door?

In the situation of an office lockout, there are multiple ways one can unlock a locked door. The most foolproof way is to call someone, specifically a commercial locksmith. A professional is capable of analyzing your business’s current security and coming up with new ways to strengthen it.

This includes getting you out of tough predicaments, such as being locked out of the office. But if you don’t have time to call someone and you must bypass the door, there are a few things you you should use when picking an office door lock:

  • Lubricant
  • Lockpicking Tools
  • Tool Placement

An inexperienced lock picker will have a difficult time because lock picking can take a delicate touch. Some would even consider it an art form that requires mastery. This is why contacting a commercial locksmith is typically the best option, but it can be done by a novice.

As long as each tool is being used properly and applied with the right amount of pressure, it stands to reason an amateur could pick an office lock. Coming up later, we will dive deeper into how specific tools are utilized for business lockouts.

Can you unlock a door with a bobby pin?

Bobby pins are extremely versatile, and improvised lock picking tools can be made out of common household items. Bobby pins and paper clips can be bent out of shape to fit your lock picking needs, especially when unlocking a door without a key.

However, entrusting your full faith in a bobby pin is not smart. When it comes to lock picking, you need to be familiar with the parts of a lock and the way these parts work in conjunction with one another. This takes experience and hours spent working with door locks.

Being locked out of your office, as humiliating as it may sound, will only worsen if you attempt to pick a lock without any practice. You will be wasting more time, and in some cases, sacrificing the livelihood of employees who need to work and do not deserve to suffer through a business lockout.

Who should I call when I’m locked out of my office building? 

The answer is very simple, a commercial locksmith. Sure, there are other people you may know who can solve a business lockout. Maybe you even have a thrill-seeking employee who is trying to convince you they can climb through a window and unlock the door for everyone from the inside.

These are more risky solutions. For one, the last thing you want to do during a business lockout is put someone in danger. Scaling the building or breaking through a window has the potential to hurt someone. And calling a friend or someone you think is handy to fix the problem will only waste more time if they are unsuccessful.

That is why reaching out to a commercial locksmith is the sensible solution. Not only can they handle the problem, but they will show up at your office with all the necessary tools and expertise. Standing there locked out of your office is frustrating, but it does not have to be your responsibility to solve the issue on your own.

Is a business lockout an emergency?

Absolutely. Being locked out of the office can be an emergency just as easily as any other situation. It does not necessarily mean your business is facing immediate danger like during a fire or in times of severe weather. It is more of an inconvenience and will interfere with business operations and your bottom line.

But every situation is different. Maybe your office building is located next to a highway or parking lot with cars and customers constantly cycling through. Having your employees exposed to traffic and vehicles can be a safety hazard.

Or perhaps you work in a large building on an upper floor, and a business lockout would cause a cluster of people to block emergency exits and elevators. You cannot have that, and some companies would be given a citation for violating safety protocols.

The point is you should always treat being locked out of the office as an emergency. Not panicking and blowing things out of proportion, but handling the situation with poise and making clear decisions. The rest of this article is aimed at teaching you how to avoid a business lockout altogether.

1. Spare Keys

The simplest way to prevent a business lockout is to always have spare keys on hand. Every business owner should have a set of spare keys with them at all times and possibly multiple sets in other locations such as a vehicle, home, safe, safety deposit box, etc.

Other supervisors or co-owners of the business should have spare keys as well. Trustworthy employees are also good people to possess spare keys because you can always depend on them when everyone gets locked out of the office.

Larger institutions, for the most part, do not want their employees to carry around spare keys. Similarly, these corporations restrict access based on an individual’s standing, and responsibility, within the company. These are standard security procedures in the corporate sector to protect the business.

This is where most companies will use a master key system for different levels of restricted entry. A master key system allows two or more keys to open one lock. For example, a property manager might use this because one tenant’s key will work on their lock but not on the neighbor’s lock. And then, the property manager will have one key that works on both.

But to make a master key system that prevents business lockouts, you need locks and keys that are the same make and model. You will also need a way to rekey those locks for when different people move in. Another reason why having a commercial locksmith at your disposal is a good idea!

For smaller businesses, master key systems might not make the most sense. It is not worth the time and money to install a master key system when you can just hand out spare keys to a few people. You still need to be smart about who you distribute these keys because the more you pass around spare keys, the chances of having a security breach become greater.

2. Employee Directory 

This may sound rather obvious, but having every employee’s contact information can be a huge asset during a business lockout. Someone with outside access must always be on standby when everyone is inexplicably locked out of the office.

Larger companies may struggle to round up everyone’s contact information because there are simply more people to manage. Although there are several employees you can reach out to, the majority of them will provide no help in solving a business lockout. It is not their responsibility to prevent being locked out of the office if they hold a non-supervisor position.

An employee directory might be the best countermeasure to a business lockout if there are other employees inside the building. You can call to get their attention and let them know you are locked out of the office. Maybe you are the only person currently at the location, in which case you will have to call another employee who has a key.

This may not work if you cannot reach workers before their shift or on their days off. The worst scenario is when you are the only one with a key. That makes options very limited, and essentially the only thing to do then is call a locksmith.

3. Accessible Tools

As we mentioned previously, certain tools can help out tremendously during a business lockout. However, there are two prerequisites before taking this approach. First, you need access to these tools. And second, you must learn how to use them correctly.

A tool is only as useful as the person operating it. You will need some level of experience and a delicate touch when you are locked out of the office. You certainly do not want to damage the existing door locks because that will only create future security problems and cost more money for equipment.

The two basic main tools you will need are a tension wrench and a pick. But before that begins, make sure to spray some lubricant on the lock to clear away any dirt or dust. For pick options, bobby pins and paper clips are acceptable, but you should be warned ahead of time that they are unreliable.

It is going to be much more difficult to solve your business lockout when using imperfect tools. Your technique could be flawless, and it will not work because you do not have the right pick. Lock pick guns are more suitable for this technique and will provide much better results.

To begin, you will want to insert your tension wrench into either the top or bottom of the keyway. Then rotate the lock in the direction it turns to unlock. Next is where you use your pick to move back and forth between the front and back of the lock quickly and repeatedly for about a minute. If everything goes right, turning the tension wrench like a key should unlock the door. 

Lock shims are another tool you can use to bypass a door lock and help the situation of being locked out of the office. A shim is a thin material that slides into a crevice to retract a spring-loaded lock. It must be narrow and flexible without being too fragile, or else it will not work.

You simply insert the shim into the door gap slightly above the handle. You will then need to slide the shim down to catch the latch bolt. Once it catches, simultaneously remove the shim and push the door open.

It is important to note that shimming does not work on deadbolts or latches that have anti-shim protections. Unless your office door is secured by a privacy lock, standard keyed door knob, or low-security padlock, you will not be able to shim the lock open.

If either of those two methods works, your business lockout is solved, and you will just have to repeat those same steps next time! But if you were not as lucky and it fails, a commercial locksmith is probably your best course of action. There is no shame in failing. As we said, there are multiple reasons why this could occur, even with excellent technique.

4. Office Security Budget

Avoiding business lockouts can be part of your company’s long-term planning by financially preparing for them with an office security budget. Many commercial businesses often overlook the importance of a security budget and how it can help with being locked out of the office.

Once you have a general idea of what things will cost, your business will have what it needs to make security feasible. Ultimately, you will waste less money and time trying things because you already have everything mapped out. This eliminates miscellaneous security expenses that you might not even need.

For preventing a business lockout, you know your security budget needs to include making spare keys, acquiring the right tools for lock picking, and a side fund for hiring a commercial locksmith. The budget could include all of these things or maybe just one. It depends on what you think your business needs to avoid being locked out of the office.

And a security budget can do more than prevent business lockouts. It can set aside resources for emergencies like a break-in, natural disaster, employee accident, or some other unpredictable event. With a security budget in place, you can make it easier for your business to run smoothly.

5. Commercial Locksmith

Finally, we have reached a business lockout solution that works for every situation. No matter what time of day it is or how many people need to get inside the office, commercial locksmiths will get the job done. And most importantly, they come straight to you.

Locksmiths are mobile technicians, so they can arrive at your business within 15 to 30 minutes. Depending on the trickiness of picking or bypassing your locks, it can take an additional 25 to 30 minutes for the locksmith to successfully end your business lockout. It depends on the type and condition of the locks, but upon their arrival, a locksmith will be able to tell you how long the process will take.

Time is a crucial factor because being locked out of the office means nobody is working, and your business is not making any money. And a building manager or business owner who is in charge of hiring a locksmith is already thinking about finding the quickest possible solution.

Speed is only one part of the equation. You need someone with the skills and knowledge to solve the issue. Commercial locksmiths have a work vehicle stocked full of every tool and piece of equipment needed to help you during a business lockout. Lock pick guns, tension wrenches, lock shims, and anything else you can think of, a locksmith has it.

Final Thoughts 

Being locked out of the office causes a hassle for everyone. From your employees to property managers to customers, there is no telling what logistical problems a business lockout will create. That is why every business needs to be prepared and have a plan drawn up.

Business lockouts are preventable after taking the proper measures outlined in this article, which leads to hiring a commercial locksmith. Professionals like this can assess what they need to open a lock and execute a plan that results in the least possible damage. All while keeping your business from ever being locked out of the office.

Category: Commercial, Safety & Security

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