The end of a year is always a chance to look back on the previous 12 months and look forward to the following year. And 2020 has given us plenty to reflect on.
The pandemic has undeniably been devastating to many lives and livelihoods – particularly security officers who, through a combination of age, sex, ethnicity, location and lifestyle, turned out to be disproportionally more likely to be affected by the virus than other occupations. But it has also given us the opportunity to completely rethink how we support our people and our customers.
Our people served on the front line of the pandemic. While management and admin staff worked from home, our security officers went out to work keeping our customers’ buildings secure and supporting the skeleton teams working in those facilities. People started to appreciate their security teams a great deal more and we believe that change will be permanent.
Supporting our people’s wellbeing has always been our main priority but the pandemic has really brought this to the forefront and shone a spotlight on the extent of the challenges faced by our colleagues. We conducted a report in the early summer about the high death rate among security officers and we’ve increased our commitment to their wellbeing as a result. It’s essential our officers are safe and secure – it’s not just about them delivering security to others and keeping others safe. Our colleague portal has considerably ramped up and now has a separate colleague wellbeing section that offers support on mental wellbeing, exercise and nutrition.
One of our biggest challenges this year has been working effectively with customers and colleagues from afar. Our contract managers have been used to being out in the field carrying out audits and reviews and having valuable face-to-face contact with our people and customers. We’ve had to find new ways to achieve this remotely. Our online customer portal, Corps Secure, has been instrumental in making more remote practices a success. It has given us the ability to measure and manage our service delivery effectively even if our management team cannot always be physically present.
At the same time, we’ve had to keep up to speed with our customers’ constantly changing requirements as the pandemic changed to working practices and premises shut down or were partially occupied at different stages. It’s been essential to be adaptable and flexible and to think differently. Our officers have changed their shift patterns to adjust to these changing requirements, often becoming more mobile. We’ve also been increasingly using our Corps Monitoring capability with our alarm receiving centre in Glasgow, as many customers complemented physical security officers with security technology. Remaining agile and working even more closely with customers this year has been paramount.
The pandemic has taught us a great deal. It’s 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 workers. We have always been an advocate of the Living Wage and we will only beat that drum louder now. Security is not just about security anymore. It’s 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 and one that we expect to grow in the foreseeable future.