On aggregate, COVID-19 is a global pandemic and economic crisis. On an individual level, millions of us around the world are combating a loss of normalcy in our lives, routine, connection with others, financial security and a fear of the unknown future. While the future is still in a state of flux and the situation continues to change day to day, there is one thing so sure – the normal will not return. Government, leaders and companies around the world are already wrestling with different options to reach the new normal. Similarly companies and people in the security sector cannot take a back seat and wait for the normal to return.
To have enduring success in the long term, we must not plan our business responses and actions in phases. In these unprecedented times, the best plan of today may fall through the very next day as the situation evolves. A better approach is to make business contingency plans with an open-ended perspective, having the resources and willingness to make quick and effective changes now rather than being fixated on the past.
In this article, we outline three priorities which we believe will help security companies and their employees push forward safely and agilely amidst the uncertainty ahead.
Securing the value of remote working now and after
Due to COVID-19, companies were forced to switch to remote working. While many security companies already had the relevant remote working tools for digital communications and virtual collaborations, most never used the tools to their full potential. When push comes to shove, however, we saw how companies quickly made structural adjustments and jumped on these tools to organise and schedule work remotely, use video calls to solve problems, reach out to their teams through messaging on a regular basis, and planned virtual feedback rounds. The result? Better communication and greater flexibility to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
Remote working presents opportunities for companies to better their way of working – not just during the COVID-19 period but post-pandemic too. Leaders should start considering a new operational model that allows for certain work functions to be digitally enabled and performed remotely in the long-run. This can result in less office space required, less time wasted on commuting, fewer breaks required and employees being more focused on their work. Furthermore, remote working also means the company can draw on a much wider talent pool across geographies to fulfil tasks.
Note of caution: Given the special nature of our industry, security companies should manage remote working with robust cybersecurity measures and security monitoring tools such as regular firmware updates, ransomware, corporate firewalls and using secured work devices to access confidential company information. Investing in a reliable Security Information and Event Management software (SIEM) may also be worthwhile.
Keeping security personnel safe while they are deployed on-site
While many are working remotely and companies around the world have been occupied with combating COVID-19, attackers – both physical and cyberattacks are not taking time off. Private security personnel providing on-premise security and surveillance services have to be more vigilant than ever as they continue to operate during and after the COVID-19 period. Companies have the responsibility to institute new practices to keep private security personnel safe at work or to minimise on-site mobilisations:
• All security personnel must screen their temperature and report them before entering their work premise. Thermal fever detection system with facial recognition system can be an easy and hassle-free way to monitor temperature and attendance without close contact with others
• Shift handovers between the security personnel deployed should be done virtually to reduce non-essential physical contact
• Work schedules should be staggered while ensuring the premises are monitored 24/7
• Personnel working in a remote security operations centre (SOC) should be put on stand-by to provide coverage and security monitoring in the event that the on-site security personnel requires relief
• Physical surveillance tools such as CCTVs should be in good working order so security personnel can monitor on-premise situation remotely and minimise unnecessary patrolling
• Provision of hand sanitisers and wet tissues to ensure high personal hygiene at all times
Managing the mental wellbeing of employees
The mental strain of isolation is inevitable for employees working remotely and have not had physical contact with their colleagues in a long time. There may also be fear of infection among security personnel who, due to the nature of their job, are unable to work from home. Above the physical protection measures in place, leaders should provide employees with ample support and guidance – there is no time to waste.
“Here at Security and Risk Solutions, we conducted a survey among our employees to find out how they are doing and asked for suggestions on the training or equipping topics that they are interested in.
Team leaders should check-in regularly with their subordinates and make sure both their work and personal lives are alright. Otherwise, a simple text message or a five minutes check-in every day before work begins is a good boost to everyone’s morale. If possible, employees with children could be provided with flexible work schedules and regular breaks so that they can to tend to their children’s wellbeing and their Home-Based Learning.
While companies are busy building their next steps, those who see breakthroughs are the action-takers who drive changes while planning. There may not be phenomenally tangible or visible business results from revamping the operations according to the aforementioned priorities, but their benefits will go a long way in the return after the pandemic.