James Morgan, Security Manager, Channel 4
When did you join Corps and what does your current role involve?
I joined Corps Security in 2017 and TUPEed over from the previous incumbent at 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin). At that point I was a shift supervisor. A few months later I moved across to Channel 4 and took on the role of security manager.
At Channel 4 I look after the physical security presence and the control rooms across all five UK offices in London, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow. I’ve set up access control at each site and we manage it centrally from the London hub. My role includes policy writing, training for Corps and Channel 4 staff and reviewing each site to ensure security compliance and compliance with Channel 4’s policies.
How has your role changed as a result of Covid-19?
Like lots of people, I’ve had to get used to managing my team remotely. My role is very people focused and I’m used to seeing multiple people on a day-to-day basis, so it’s been quite a change. I’ve had to deliver training remotely too, so it has been strange not having everyone together.
Most of the buildings I work with have been locked down with just a small number of staff occupying them in critical roles. We’ve had to be on hand and flexible to support people in those roles and their associated schedules. We’ve had a skeleton security crew in place at each site so we can deliver our security solutions with minimal human presence. The less people we have in a building, the less risk there is of virus transmission. I’ve also had to juggle schedules and rotas to support my team’s home life.
From the moment the doors to our buildings were closed, we’ve been planning how they can effectively be reopened again and making sure we’re Covid secure. This has taken a huge amount of planning and trouble shooting and will continue to do so. We’ll be constantly amending and updating processes and we’re now looking at long term plans for onboarding more people back into the building.
It’s been a great collaborative effort between CBRE, Channel 4 and other service lines. We worked closely anyway but it’s been much closer knit in recent months. We’ve had daily update calls and it’s nice to see everyone working together and being part of a wider team.
All of our guidance documents and communication has had to be completely bullet proof and clear so people feel safe in our buildings and completely understand the rules in place.
What are the main challenges you face in your daily role now compare to before?
Remote working has definitely been a challenge for me. I’m used to seeing and working with many people on a daily basis so it’s hard not being physically present on the ground. That’s definitely been an adjustment for me. It’s worked well though that so many physical teams can now work together remotely.
What’s it been like working on the front-line during the crisis, particularly in buildings which are at reduced occupancy? What have you had to adapt to and do differently?
It’s definitely been a big change for all of us. Channel 4 has been great at supporting their teams though and that includes us.
We’ve been doing so much work behind the scenes to ensure we have the correct policies and procedures in place to be able to open our buildings with one day’s notice. Our teams have been involved in marking out social distancing, traffic flow around a building, entry and exit points and hand sanitising stations as well as temperature control.
The wellbeing of my team has also of course been very important. I have regular contact with all my team members and there’s always the opportunity for people to talk openly to me and feel supported.
Do you think people’s perception of the role a security officer plays will change as a result of the crisis?
The culture at Channel 4 is already great and just recently there’s been even more of a change in people noticing what we do and their appreciation. The facilities management function has been praised from CEO level at Channel 4. It’s nice to have the support of the very people we are protecting.
On a wider level though, I do think people’s views will change but only in the short term. I think security officers will be praised initially but, I don’t know for how long. There are many roles from different sectors that have shown to be vital in a crisis and I hope they all continue to get the recognition that they deserve.
What positive things do you think we can take into the post-pandemic world?
For security, I think having the support of the people officers are trying to protect would be fantastic. We’ve seen it happen more recently and it makes a big difference. Generally being kinder to each other and supporting one another more are other positives that have stemmed from the pandemic. There has been such a great sense of community and it would be a shame to lose that.
What’s your favourite thing about working in security?
I really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of security. I like being creative and finding solutions to problems and improving processes. I also love the people I work with. Collaborating with people in so many different teams like reception, front-of-house, cleaning, management, legal, HR means you get to know a lot of people in the building you work in. When there’s a problem, everyone does their bit in the jigsaw to get things back on track.
What would you say has been your biggest highlight whilst working for Corps?
The biggest highlight for me is the support that I’ve received from Corps to go into the role I’m in now. Clarence and Glenn have been a really positive influence and have given me a lot of “you can do it” encouragement. Taking over the Channel 4 contract was my first big role and there were a few hurdles to overcome. At that point we only had one Channel 4 premises to look after. We now oversee all sites across the UK, so it’s been great to have made a difference and have been part of that growth.
What do you like doing outside of work?
I love seeing my mates! I think this pandemic has really highlighted that it’s people I miss the most above days out, activities or experiences. I’m looking forward to being able to see all my friends again. I am also a complete foodie and love cooking and doing cooking classes.