John Sephton FSyI, Account Director at Axis Security Services looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the Manned Guarding industry.
As this is my first article for International Security Journal, I would like to discuss my own views on the implications of Manned Guarding coming out of the COVID-19 situation. COVID-19 has been a curse on us and the deaths have been horrendous, but some good has come out of this situation we find ourselves currently in. The good that has come out of this period in our history is that communities have become stronger and more resilient and people have found a new appreciation of each other and their communities.
Companies have come to the realisation that home working may be a plausible option and can cut down on the running costs of having a mobile workforce. The world’s CO2 emissions have reduced dramatically if the posts on social media are to be believed and people have reflected on what is really important to them and got to spend more time with families. Reflecting on past work ethics, sometimes you get caught up in the seconds of the day and do not appreciate what is really going on with you and your closest friends and family. The frontline workers have held society together and definitely should be more appreciated going forward as we get back to the level of normal that we have come to expect.
I work in the Manned Guarding industry and have done so for many years and in those years, there has been a lot of change. Not only in the security industry but how the professional standards have risen and how we are being perceived as more professional and a much needed part of the business we are hired to protect. The industry is ever evolving and it takes a crisis like the one we have now to really focus the mind on what our next course of evolution is. Security officers will by default always find a way to deal with a crisis and come out of it improved and more resilient. COVID-19 has given us a curve ball, but I feel we will come out of this situation a more recognised and appreciated industry for the clients and businesses that need us. That is, if people remember that security officers turned up to work when others could not and ensured that the places they protect were still standing for people to return to and earn their wages.
Security officers normally deal with the public on a day to day basis and the process of how they will do this will change. There will be more distance between the officers and clients, more time to process people and visitors while the threat of COVID-19 is still at the level it is. Please bear this in mind that security officers are people too and they are trying to keep everybody safe and not be a total hindrance to what would have been a normal activity for you when you return to work. There will be new measures in place and new ways of dealing with you if you forget your pass. Some businesses have installed thermal cameras in their reception areas and most have hand hygiene points littered around, please use them regularly.
I feel that security companies will introduce COVID-19 training as a normal part of their continual professional development or part of the induction package when a new team member starts. Risk assessments will need to include, by default, the potential impact of contagious viruses and how to mitigate risks associated with it. I am hoping by now that businesses have made a headway into this important process and I don’t see it disappearing anytime soon so risk assessors will need further training going forward.
What you should expect when you finally return to work is a slower access and egress from buildings, more checks and less people using elevators and escalators. People will be more reluctant to hold long meetings and shake the hands of visitors, not shaking is a little alien at first but the obligatory elbow bump has become the new handshake. If you remember Demolition Man the movie you will know what I mean by it as physical welcomes are actively discouraged.
Shops and offices will impose a one way in and one way out system if they can, but this is for everybody’s safety and should be observed. There will be cases they cannot so they will limit numbers to their shops. There may be more checks being commenced on individuals coming into buildings by security or other teams so please give yourself more time than normal to check through security and limit the time you are in the office.
If you are a purchaser of security services however big or small and if you are able, please ensure the companies you are employing have a budget for the training of their teams and add an extra line in the security budget for it. A motivated workforce coming out of this situation is something that we all should be aiming for and employers and purchasers of security have a duty to do. Investing in the future of your security team can only bring back a more positive, motivated and dedicated workforce to protect the premises and people they are assigned to.
Security officers, they were there at the beginning of it, they were there through the thick of it and they will be there at the end of it, we need to appreciate them going forward. They have risked their health to come to work with the threat of catching COVID-19 and potentially taking it back to their families. We owe all frontline workers a debt of gratitude that goes way beyond clapping on the doorstep and we should all look for ways to make them feel appreciated.
This article was published in the August 2020 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital copy on the link here