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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

Safety Tips For Working Late At Night

How to be safe when we have to work after hours

Today’s topic comes from a listener request. Someone wanted to know what I thought were the best things to do for someone who has to work after hours at night.

What’s important to understand is that where we work can generally be considered a known environment where we feel comfortable. But depending on the time of day, our comfort level can change and I’ll get into that more later. So here are some simple tips to make you safer while working late.

Safety Tips For Working Late

If you know you’re going to be working late, set yourself up for success. Park in a well-lit area that is close to the door if you can. This way you will have less time in the parking lot and your car will be easily seen.

If you can also coordinate working late with trusted coworkers, I suggest that you do it. Working late by yourself is never fun, drag your work friends into it as well.

On the flip side, if there’s a person in your office that makes you feel uncomfortable try to keep your work schedule as private as possible. You don’t want that person to also stay late to be around you when no one else is there.

Also, don’t complain about having to work late on social media, because a disgruntled boyfriend or girlfriend may take that opportunity to strike with fewer people around. So keep those cards close to the vest.

Changing Environments When Working Late

So let’s look at how time affects environments. A place that we might consider to be perfectly safe during the day may not be safe after dark. The time of day changes environments and how people and animals respond during certain times of the day.

I have worked in several offices that didn’t have many people around after 5:30 PM because everyone left the area to go home. Given the lack of people and the amount of darkness, even the most hospitable of environments can seem awkward and strange.

So we need to first recognize that just because we feel safe in that place during the day does it mean that we will necessarily be safe there working after hours. So don’t just assume that since your office parking lot is perfectly fine at noon that it’s also going to be OK at midnight. That’s a big difference, right? We need to have these sorts of considerations in mind when we know that we’re going to be working late after hours.

My Experience Working Late

I used to work at a radio station and my job was to be a local board operator for the Atlanta Braves. It was my job to monitor the national broadcast and make sure our local commercials ran as scheduled in our town. It was actually a really fun job but if the team was playing on the West Coast sometimes games wouldn’t start until 9 PM Eastern.

Our radio station was tucked behind a cheap motel and down a small driveway that was well away from the street. During the day it was bright with people coming and going. After sunset, it was a completely different story.

The hotel across the way came to life and the parking lot got really dark except for the lone street lamp in the parking lot. I would back my car in next to the staircase so that after I locked the front door, I could bolt my car as quickly as possible to get in and go. Because I knew that if something went wrong in that parking lot no one was going to see it.

That’s also why some people chose that parking lot to come and park their cars for other reasons. I will leave that to your imagination. There was actually one time I went to leave and there was a truck parked in the parking lot and the people were very offended that I was there. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt your moments of intimacy. I have a job.

Have Friend Watch Your Back When You Work Late

Now I had a routine that I would call my dad when the broadcast was over and tell him that I was on my way home. Alerting someone about where you are and when you are leaving is very important.

If you have a rough estimate of when you’re going to be leaving you like one of your coworkers, a friend, or a family member know that’s the case. Then when you get home, text that person to let them know that you’re home. If you want to share your location with someone, you can do that, too.

One of the best things that we can do when we’re on our own is alert other people to where we are and when we’re going to be moving around.

Heading To The Car After Working Late

When it’s time to go home, if at all possible, it would be a good idea to check out the parking lot from inside the building before you walk out to make sure that there is no one obviously waiting.

Not all threats are going to be obvious, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble by looking around before you actually leave the building.

If your building has security you can ask one of the guards to walk you to your car or if someone else happens to be working late you can have them walk you to your car.

As you make your way to your car, keep your head up, phone put away, with your keys in hand so you can get it easier. If you carry pepper gel, and I suggest that you do, have it in hand as you walk. If it’s buried at the bottom of your backpack or purse, it’s not going to do you much good. Have it in hand so you can deploy it quickly.

If your car has a remote start feature, consider using it as you approach to speed up your departure. And of course, lock your doors as soon as you are inside.

Every Day Safety

If your parking lot isn’t supposed to have anyone in it after 6 pm, don’t immediately assume that it is there to harm you. There are a number of reasons cars end up in parking lots and not all of them are threats. But do keep an eye on them. If the car starts to move after you walk out, retreat back to the building and lock it down.

I’ll leave you with this, to really make a safer environment for everyone, monitor your office area during the day. Look for busted lights and broken street lamps. Remember that darkness is a thief’s best friend.

Also, look for trash that may be left behind by vagrants. You don’t want to walk out into a homeless camp after hours. And of course, report any anomalies in and around your office to security or to the police. The safer an environment you can make for yourself and your coworkers will diminish your chances of being targeted for a crime.

Watch The Episode Safety Tips for Working Late


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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