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After COVID: How security service providers can help clients through recovery


As the COVID-19 crisis begins to wind down across Canada and restrictions on business and daily life are slowly lifted by provincial governments, organizations and their leadership teams are only now beginning to take stock of the full social, economic, cultural and even lifestyle impact of the pandemic.

Most are simply happy for the opportunity to rebuild their bottom-line or get back to business as usual. In many cases that will mean a return to the workplace with office buildings, manufacturing facilities, shopping malls and more physical locations fully reopening.

At the forefront will be security professionals tasked with managing everything from ongoing safety rules to direct public engagement.

The quality of the service they provide is crucial, because for the first time in nearly a year and a half, the millions of Canadians who quickly pivoted to remote work will be returning to their morning commute and re-entering the workplace.

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No one knows exactly how this will play out, but we can expect a mixed bag of emotions. From relief and joy to anxiety and frustration over having to once again elbow their way on to a rush hour subway car, we’re sure to see everything from kindness to short tempers. Security professionals will be on the frontlines helping to manage these interactions in workplace settings.

Forward-thinking security firms also have an opportunity to leverage everything from their technology solutions to guard training to provide a heightened client experience that showcases the complete scope of their service offering in several key areas.

The first is the role of the security guard as a professional problem solver. What we found throughout the pandemic is that unprecedented social distancing measures and health and safety restrictions required security teams to come up with solutions to complex challenges on the fly. There simply wasn’t time to strategize over months to determine, for example, how to fairly limit access to shared condominium amenities or to ensure that office access points (for the few facilities that remained opened) were properly managed to allow for effective distancing.

The majority of security guards and managers worked with their clients to quickly and effectively adjust while under immense pressure.

There’s no reason why our industry can’t leverage this expertise to continue helping facility owners, managers and business leaders make critical operational decisions on an ongoing basis.

Another area is risk management and mitigation. The COVID-19 crisis underscored the importance of reliably delivering reactive security services — from incident reporting to alarm response — but also the need for proactive solutions that avoid problems before they can occur. The latter helps mitigate the legal liability and financial risk that keeps facility owners and managers awake at night. But it also frees them to focus on running their facilities or businesses, leaving the security concerns to their providers. Engaged security firms can and should be doing more than placing guards at lobby desks and hoping they don’t fall asleep at some point during their shift.

The same applies on the cybersecurity front. Physical and digital security are now intrinsically tied. Increased cyberattacks on organizations large and small throughout the pandemic reminded us that integrated security solution providers should be advising on every aspect of their clients’ protection, both online and off.

But back to that earlier point about delivering an exceptional client service experience. One of the major takeaways from COVID-19 was that engaged security providers have a major role in shaping the environments they’re asked to protect. A compassionate approach to health and safety rule enforcement here, a welcoming smile on the face of a condominium concierge there — the right attitude and approach can make a huge difference to the workplace or lifestyle experience of employees and building tenants alike. Many organizations that continued to welcome clients to their facilities during the pandemic realized that security teams are often the forward face of their organization, whether they work directly for them or not. And what is it they say about not getting a second chance to make a first impression?

The point is that the positive, can-do demeanor that so many security providers served up throughout the pandemic can be carried forward to build stronger client relationships and help ensure safety as some COVID-19 rules (think mask-wearing) remain a workplace reality for the foreseeable future.

In so many ways, COVID-19 has promoted a newfound appreciation for the role that good security firms have in protecting people, property and assets.

And while our industry has an important part to play in this post-pandemic world, it’s incumbent on providers to provide the necessary training and managerial oversight to ensure their teams deliver on expectations.

In other words, we have an opportunity to prove ourselves more indispensable than ever. Let’s not let our clients down.

Winston Stewart is the president and CEO of Wincon Security (www.wincon-security.com).