With quarantine measures in place, your safety is important more than ever before.
The COVID-19 pandemic means that security guards are in extremely high demand; many have been enlisted to assist the community and government in combatting the pandemic. Security companies of all shapes and sizes are stepping up to the challenge.
COVID-19 is causing an unprecedented degree of disruption to our daily lives, especially for businesses. While security guard service is being reduced in sectors that are currently closed, security guards are viewed as more vital in other sectors than ever before.
How does this look? Well, right now, redeployment is the new norm. The sight of a security guard outside stores has become a normal experience for most shoppers as they ensure shoppers’ safety, limit the number of people who can enter a shop at any one time, and ensure social, or physical, distancing is maintained in stores.
“It’s such a fluid situation right now,” says Ashley Cooper, CEO of Paladin Security Group, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and its American subsidiary PalAmerican Security. “Sector by sector, we’re having significant changes. There are certain sectors that are beginning to slow down and reduce their hours while others are drastically picking up.”
So, while the demand for security guards grows, this is what you need to know:
Security — even for security guards — is considered as a top priority for employers and the companies they are serving during this time. Security for security officers looks like this:
- Providing items to keep workstations clean and encouraging guards to make safety a priority
- Providing PPE and providing instructions on how to use it
- Making sure social distancing can be maintained between clients, shoppers, and guards
- Ensure guards know how to wash their hands properly, use antibacterial solutions, and don’t touch their faces
- Providing COVID-19 testing, if needed, and making sure guards know this is available to them
While some sectors that provide security are currently closed, other areas are reporting increased demand at healthcare, grocers, and hotel facilities. Regardless, security guards are now doing jobs that are usually outside their scope of work — like checking people’s temperatures and managing store lineups.
This is posing an issue in some cases. For instance, one Ontario union says that it has been struggling to fill the demand and that 1500 jobs need to be filled immediately. Some companies are not equipped to take on new roles, like large-scale patrolling of closed stores or purchasing equipment for taking temperatures. The safety of guards, as front-line workers, is also a concern.
Fortunately, some security companies were already equipped to meet the new challenges posed by COVID-19 before the lockdown. For instance, new security software allows companies to clearly see what’s happening at a client’s site without having to be present. This keeps guards safe and maintains social distancing protocols.
This new security also allows head offices to communicate and update staff on important pandemic information via message boards that use cellular networks and cloud technology. Thus, it puts important information in the hands of security guards right when they need it.
Security at healthcare facilities is also ramping up. Guards are in charge of making sure that the people coming into care facilities are not exacerbating the issue and entering the health facility through the proper channels.
This creates a high-risk situation for guards, but it is also one of the most important steps in keeping hospitals and other centres running smoothly. For instance, in hospitals facing an increased volume of COVID-19 patients, they have had to lockdown their facilities, which means adding additional security coverage.
Security guards are the reason that many businesses have been able to stay open during this challenging time. They ensure client service and that services — like grocery stores — can stay open and uninterrupted.
They are also in charge of ensuring the continuity and movement of supply chains that provide goods and services to essential workers and services so that they remain safe, open, and properly supported, especially as the situation rapidly evolves.
The Financial Picture for Security Guards
Security companies are also facing a number of economic shifts related to COVID-19.
One potential opportunity could be overtime hours in sectors and geographic areas where customers need more help. However, it may come as no surprise that many clients are having an issue with money-flow that wouldn’t have previously been a problem. If a business is closed, they are not making money.
So, while security has increased and is vital for these businesses, many companies can’t afford to pay for overtime. With lower sales causing interruptions, companies may experience higher operational costs due to illness among employees and other elements.
This is where transparency comes into play. Clients must stay abreast of this evolving situation and know exactly what they are paying for, especially if they may be charged for overtime work.
Security companies should also be letting clients know about potential discounts and “premium wage” packages offered for temporary work during the quarantine. It could save money in the long run when security services are no longer required post-quarantine.
Payment methods also have been changing, and companies have had to adapt to this. For instance, any security companies who still collect physical cheques from clients have been upgrading to contactless and online payment solutions.
What will happen when the pandemic ends?
When the pandemic ends, it’s hard to say what our “new” reality is going to look like for everyone. Just as the security industry adapts to the changes that the pandemic has brought with it, it can and will continue to shift.
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