New year, new start. The first few days of 2021 might not be exactly the fresh start we were hoping for, but January is always a chance to look back on the previous year and look forward to the coming 12 months. And, while 2020 was a difficult year, it undeniably gave us plenty to reflect on.
We all know that Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on lives and livelihoods – particularly professional security officers who turned out to be disproportionally more likely to be affected by Covid-19 than other occupations. But it has also been an opportunity for our security colleagues to demonstrate their true worth to UK Plc.
While many businesses closed their doors and told their people to work from home, security officers have been on the front-line of the virus since day one. They walked through deserted streets, past shuttered shops, closed-down buildings, and empty pubs and restaurants to support organisations to keep their people and buildings safe. Their importance was underlined when the Government gave them key worker status, something the industry believes they should have had from the outset. Many senior leaders of organisations have also acknowledged a new respect for their security officers. We must ensure we build on that in 2021.
The pandemic meant the security industry had to pivot overnight. Sometimes that was helping organisations to close down their building securely and provide a reduced security presence while it was vacant to protect critical assets. Elsewhere, reception staff were furloughed and security officers provided day cover to maintain a presence in largely empty buildings. Other organisations have turned to remote monitoring technology to provide security through our Corps Monitoring centre in Glasgow, or adopted mobile patrols to replace on-site officers. Meanwhile those organisations considered part of the national infrastructure – food shops, financial services, utilities, distribution centres, police stations and of course hospitals – were busier than ever and often needed more security support. We learned to adapt quickly and that’s something the profession needs to continue to do. Flexibility and adaptability will be just as key in 2021.
2020 was also an opportunity for our security colleagues to learn new skills. They went from managing occupied buildings to empty ones and then planning for reoccupation, with changes to security and access control. When people started to come back into buildings, security officers took a lead role in managing the ‘new normal’. After all, they’re the first person that building occupants see when they arrive to work. They reinforced the instructions around social distancing, taking the time to explain how the new security and access control systems work, talking people through new technology such as thermal imaging cameras, and reassuring them that the building is safe. Essentially being a friendly and welcoming face. And they’ll need those customer service skills all the more after this current lockdown.
The global pandemic has taught us a lot. 2020 was a tumultuous year. It has sparked a new level of compassion and made us more united, collaborative, resilient and innovative. It has also elevated the importance of our frontline security officers. Security is not just about security anymore. It’s now about keeping people and places safe and secure. The role of the security officer has taken on a wellbeing responsibility and this is something that will become a permanent change into 2021 and beyond.
Paul is one of the UK’s most well respected physical security industry leaders, having had senior rolls at Reliance, Securitas, Mitie and Interserve before moving to Corps Security in 2018.
Rapidly recognising Paul’s knowledge and experience he was appointed Managing Director in March 2019. His “lead by example” attitude has gained him huge respect amongst the men and women on the front line at Corps, and he is embracing the rapid evolution of the sector to drive one of the oldest security companies in existence, to the very forefront of industry advancement.