Security industry supports business through pandemic
As business restarts, the security industry continues to adapt at pace to a changing world and to demonstrate the key role it plays.
Security officers have really stepped up to the plate since the start of the lockdown – evidenced by the fact that they were designated key worker status by the Government.
The British Security Industry Association (BSIA), in partnership with the Security Commonwealth and the Security Institute, is looking to capitalise on all the great work undertaken by security officers with a campaign to raise awareness amongst the public. The timing makes perfect sense, because as buildings reopen security officers are going to have a more prominent role than ever before in how workplaces, shops, pubs, hotels and public spaces function.
The future of guarding
Everyone in the security industry understands that there is a lot more to the job than simply being on guard, but that’s usually as much as the public sees. That’s already starting to change as supermarkets and other shops that were operating during the lockdown had security to help manage social distancing and queuing.
As workplaces reopen, officers may be called upon by businesses to enforce protocols such as one-way systems, and helping secure areas of a building that remain closed while occupancy is at less than 100 per cent.
Security officers will also have additional front-of-house responsibilities, most notably administering temperature checks with handheld devices. It’s not inconceivable that officers may sometimes be met with aggression or hostility, especially if someone registers a temperature above the threshold and is asked to leave the premises.
Even though the lockdown is easing, a lot of people are still on edge; many will consider being able to return to the office a big milestone in a return to normality. Being turned away because of a high temperature could lead to raised tensions so officers will need to be calm and tactful as they explain why they are unable to permit someone to enter a building.
In retail, now that mask wearing has been mandated for all shops, many businesses will be asking their security personnel to ensure that customers abide by the regulations. We’ve all seen viral videos of people angrily refusing to wear a mask and again it will fall to security officers to deal with these situations in a professional manner.
These new roles will see officers further develop their skill sets, especially soft skills. They will also further develop their expertise in the implementation and management of environments, and be able to quickly adapt depending on the setting.
Of course, there are many buildings that remain vacant or partially closed, and security has a key role to play in these settings too.
Security of empty premises
When the Government announcement in March requested that anyone who could work from home should do so, almost overnight thousands of offices became vacant. When non-essential retail outlets, along with pubs and restaurants, were ordered to close soon after, thousands more properties emptied out.
All of these properties needed to be secured and so the industry saw a surge in need for personnel to physically guard or visit sites.
Workplaces had been vacated with such haste that plenty of expensive IT equipment and sensitive files had not been properly secured. Retail outlets hadn’t had time to move stock into storage and so needed security solutions immediately.
Many security providers were quick to respond and secure buildings with a mix of in-person and technology solutions. Officers have become well-versed in making decisions based on quality technology and their own sound judgement.
It will take some time for all parts of the business world to fully restart, and in the meantime there will be many vacant premises that need security. The industry has months of experience of looking after such properties and so should be consulted about how best to manage this alongside other security solutions.
Collaborate and listen
For businesses to benefit most from the wide-ranging expertise of officers, they must look to their security providers as partners and develop a strong relationship. A solid business relationship is always the foundation of successful work. Now, it’s absolutely critical to ensure that security officers fully understand their roles, remit and the lengths they should go to in enforcing new protocols.
Likewise, businesses must bring security providers into the conversation around the reopening and running of a building. This is a real opportunity for the industry to demonstrate its know-how and become a key business partner for the long-term.
Many businesses are now looking at reducing costs as they look to shore up their finances following the lockdown. The security industry needs to demonstrate its importance or providers risk seeing their workload cut back.
Ironically, it may be that those providers with the better solutions have to fight the hardest. Good security can mean danger is identified and averted before it happens; for a client, they may see that as there being no danger and therefore no need to spend as much on security.
The industry needs to be proactive in its solutions and present options that reduce costs without compromising on risk.
Technology will play a major role in the industry in the years ahead. At Amulet, we’re seeing an increased demand for smarter solutions to complement our officers. Confidence in tech is growing but security providers still need to demonstrate its value at every opportunity.
One value is cost reduction. There are certain functions that can be carried out by technology, such as remote monitoring with CCTV cameras, that can replace the need for a physical presence.
Technology can also provide valuable data analytics which can help to inform future strategies. Cameras with analytics provide 24/7 coverage, while analysis of incidents can help create a proactive solution to avoid a repeat in the future. Data analysis can also provide specific alerts to situations, allowing providers to respond with the correct measures.
By taking the initiative and proposing smarter solutions, rather than waiting to be asked, security providers can show that they have their clients’ best interests at heart, in terms of providing both the best solution and the most cost-effective one.
The cost of quality security
Costs can only be reduced to a certain point – officers remain a vital component of any solution and they need training and ongoing professional development. On those sites where we have made the greatest investment in training, we see higher levels of engagement among officers in their role and their work.
It’s important to highlight this to clients and for the industry to continue with campaigns like that being run by the BSIA. The more we can shine a spotlight on our officers and the outstanding work they do, the better placed we will be to develop long-lasting partnerships with clients.
I take great pride in seeing the work that both my colleagues and the security industry as a whole have done to keep the country stable since March. I’m sure that as this work continues the BSIA campaign will be successful and the industry will receive the recognition it deserves from the public.