Managing distributed guards in a changing landscape: Adaptability on the Front Line
Stepping into the next phase of the pandemic, there is an increased need for lone security guards to attend premises. As businesses reopen, demand for security guards to fulfil small contracts have also increased, presenting micro-engagement challenges.
With just one person carrying out work at a site, the potential for overhead costs to increase is likely.
The opportunity: Deploy scalable workforce management technology that can work just as easily for your small jobs as it does for your large contracts. Not only does this provide continuity for your staff (who otherwise would need to be trained in multiple systems that don’t align or accurately share information) but it also helps you control important variables like overhead costs, monitor scheduling and training, and keep an eye on your lone guards as they complete patrols.
The landscape of the type of guards being hired is also changing. As McKinsey stated in its September 2020 survey findings: “Two years from now, about 70 per cent of the executives in our survey expect to use more temporary workers and contractors onsite at their companies than they did before the crisis.”
The opportunity: Employers can monitor temporary or contracted workers with mobile apps and digitised systems with functions to handle employee training, communication and compliance tracking. This also helps relieve some of the burden so many security companies face when hiring, where the investment into the employee doesn’t match the retention rates of that employee. Digitised systems that streamline onboarding and training processes help narrow the gap between the cost of hiring guards and their respective retention rates, especially with the likelihood of a more flexible, temporary or contracted workforce in the future.
First Impressions matter
While there is an element of business security that may seem clandestine, especially as it relates to securing and protecting corporate assets, the reality is the role of a security guard has become more public facing. Prior to the pandemic, that guard’s “main” role may have been to manage order and ensure safety throughout their contracted location. In situations since the pandemic, though, a guard’s duties have expanded to include aspects like:
- Managing how many people are admitted into a building, space or other location at a given time.
- Monitoring and enforcing virus control guidelines, like masks and other personal protective equipment.
- Customer relation-related duties.
Some of these expanded duties are conceivable, but you may be wondering why customer relations is a skill security guards are acquiring. This is because the public perception of key workers, like guards in the security industry, is changing. Often, a security guard is the first individual you encounter when entering a business. As such, guards are now de facto serving “front-of-house” functions in welcoming customers and making them feel at ease.
The opportunity: Leverage tools that enable your guards to quickly gather and monitor information at their sites, foster communications between the back office and the field, and streamline processes. The fact of the matter is, even as customer relation demands increase, the need for patrols, loss prevention and other areas of risk management will never decrease for front-line security staff. Simplifying daily activities like booking on and off, managing diary tasks and checkpoints, and following up on alerts or alarms, can help support your guards as they take on more and more duties at each job site.
Looking to the Future
With vaccine rollouts occurring at different stages around the globe, and new emerging virus variants still to consider, one thing is for certain: the world is not yet done with COVID-19. Changes to the way the security industry operates are evolving, and likely will continue to do so. As security services change, stay on top of opportunities to improve outdated processes and build on them for long-term success.
Vice President Global Marketing and Sales