To reassure your security officers, it’s important that employers create environments that are safe, healthy, and inspiring to work in. Returning to the once-familiar physical workplace, however, can be a complex process when you consider health guidelines, government requirements, and job-specific risks.
Once you understand the new risk landscape, think about what steps you can implement to mitigate risk going forward, including how to encourage physical distancing, ensure workplace cleanliness, implement new access controls, as well as secure and distribute PPE, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies to your teams.
To ensure that your security officers, and the general public they routinely come into contact with, feel comfortable, make sure you are addressing the following key considerations required for a safe and secure re-entry back for everyone.
1. Do Your Research
In addition to confirming the procedures and rules for building re-openings, re-entry and occupation, you may want to contact health authorities and your local government for specific guidelines. In the security industry, there are many industry associations that provide numerous resources, like reopening checklists, how technology can help you transition back to the workplace and more, to help businesses on the path to the new normal.
2. Survey Your Security Team
Conduct an employee survey. The best way to gauge the comfort level of your security teams is to ask them what measures can you take to ensure that they will feel safe and confident to return to work. Ask them who needs to return to the workplace. For some security officers, continuing to work from home brings many additional challenges, especially those with small children who no longer have access to childcare or school. You can also ask who wants to return to the physical workforce or who is more comfortable behind a desk, or a wall of computer monitors, or on mobile patrols. Ask your security officers about any commuting challenges they may face.
Have a plan to address anxiety either through programs offered by your corporate healthcare provider or a wellness program, or by offering a list of resources that individual staff members can use to help themselves. Security officers should also be sensitive to the fact that the general public, or employees in secured buildings, are probably experiencing a level of uncertainty about returning to the physical workplace as well.
3. Know How to Allocate Your Resources
Invest in security workforce management software to generate usable incident data so that you know how to best allocate your security guard resources when re-entering the workplace. By using software that allows officers to upload an incident report directly from their mobile device, your customers won’t have to wait until the end of a shift to be notified of an incident that requires attention. With software that leverages real-time data, customers will receive the incident information shortly after the security officer discovers the problem, so they can take swift action to correct the issue. SMS and email notifications will also ensure that the right people are notified after a report is submitted, so that nothing goes overlooked.
Access to incident data can be particularly beneficial when re-entering the workplace after a prolonged absence. For future shifts, the incident data may help you make smarter decisions when it comes to where to dispatch your guards.
4. Make Workspace Modifications
Before sending your security teams back to the job, you may need to reconfigure work areas by rearranging counters or desks to meet the 2 meter / 6 foot recommended physical distancing guidelines. Identify potentially-congested areas and create traffic signs, much like the unidirectional arrows in retail and grocery stores, to control the traffic flow around security counters or desks. Signage should be posted throughout the workplace that identifies any new workplace protocols or important reminders.
Some security companies may want to consider installing plexiglass or perspex dividers between staff and the general public if physical distancing is a challenge. If the general public is frequently onsite, be sure to communicate the facility’s safety protocols through highly-visible signage to establish a process for ensuring the safety of your guards.
5. Prepare Customers
Customers need to feel as confident as your security officers. Contact your customers and speak directly with them on safety protocols and processes, as well as their expectations of security teams when onsite.
6. Develop a Communication Plan
A strong communication plan is key to make sure your security team feels safe and secure. Post safety protocols on your website and distribute across all of your communication channels, such as email, employee newsletters, post orders, instant messaging, forums, and others. These protocols may include when and where to wear a mask in a workplace, reminders to wash hands, how to sanitize work spaces before and after use, physical distancing rules, instructions on how many guards can be in a room at any one time, and more. Promote awareness by establishing and communicating cleaning protocols as well.
7. Ensure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is Available
Security service companies should be prepared to provide PPE to their teams, including safety goggles, gloves, and masks (especially if guards are required to wear masks in the workplace). Most health agencies recommend wearing a non-medical face mask when they are unable to maintain the proper physical distance from others.
In some states, provinces, cities, and municipalities, mandatory face mask by-laws have been introduced inside enclosed public spaces such as retail and grocery stores, on public transit, and in office buildings. In addition to supplying PPE, companies should make sure that appropriate cleaning supplies like alcohol-based sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are widely available onsite.
8. Have a Plan B
Despite your best efforts, it’s important to have a contingency plan in the event that a facility needs to be quickly shut down. Remember to include physical distancing considerations in your plan and be sure to include an up-to-date list of essential roles and services. Establish building shutdown policies in the event the facility needs to be closed again. Decide who is responsible for announcing building closures or who needs to approve shutdown and reopening plans.
9. Enhance Security
Determine entry/exit protocols for visitors entering and leaving buildings. Most health agencies recommend dedicated one-way entries in buildings and retail outlets. Consider using technology to enhance security in high traffic areas in facilities and office buildings, such as self-opening doors, integrated fever screening and detection, heat-sensing cameras, thermal-imaging cameras on mobile phones like the CAT® S61, and security robots like the Badger PatrolBot™ in remote locations that may be hard to access.
10 . Prepare for the Unexpected
Rapidly transitioning entire workforces from state-of-the-art work environments to home offices that sometimes look like kitchen tables, dark basements, or even a corner of an employee’s bedroom was a harsh wake-up-call for many businesses. Even companies with solid crisis management processes in place had to re-evaluate their business continuity plans these past few months. While most organizations have responded effectively and made the shift to work-from-home operations, the environment is still dynamic.
Returning to workplaces like office buildings, retail locations, and healthcare facilities can create a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety in some individuals, including security officers. So the best advice in these changing times is to prepare for the unexpected.
The good news is that if your organization can recover and get back to business quickly, you may discover a competitive advantage. If you are agile, open, and proactive, while establishing a safe and secure return to work, your security officers and your customers will recognize your efforts. Preparation is key though, and it’s never too early to be prepared.