Last Thursday 17th September marked Corps’ second annual Thank Your Security Officer Day as part of the wider Security Officer Appreciation Week.

This day of recognition provided us with the perfect platform to acknowledge and thank the hard work and dedication of all of our security officers, particularly over the past six months.

Last week, our SMT, HR team, contract managers and account managers were out and about up and down the country visiting our sites to give thanks to our officers where it is truly due. Sadly, we couldn’t visit all sites, but the team got around as many as they could and enjoyed a catch up and a cuppa with our frontline staff.

Our visiting teams sent us photos and their wonderful words of appreciation for our officers. We were overwhelmed with positive responses. Our clients also got involved and we received so many fantastic words of praise and compliments for the service our colleagues have delivered. Our client at Eversheds Sutherland even made sure our officers were all rewarded with a gift as a token of their appreciation.

As we transition once again to a work from home strategy following the latest government guidance, our officers will be once again the last people standing in many buildings – closing down facilities, supporting skeleton staff ensuring that they feel safe and protected.

We couldn’t be prouder of our dedicated colleagues and we’d like to take this opportunity once again to say thank you to our frontline workers, the people who keep our buildings and people safe and secure.

Search #thankyoursecurityofficer on Twitter and LinkedIn to read words of sincere thanks from our own teams and our clients for our second annual Corps Thank Your Security Officer Day celebration.

Here are just a few comments:

“Would like to thank all the security team who work at Kindeva Drug Delivery, Loughborough. They are reliable and keep our site safe and secure. I would particularly like to thank the Security Manager for the site, Wes King! He does an amazing job, supports the site in so many ways and supports his own team on site too. We are going through many changes here in Loughborough and times are uncertain, but Wes has continued to drive a great service and helped with a new security project on site. We would be lost without Wes and the team. Thank you all!”

Vicki Loach – UK EHS Manager, Kindeva Drug Delivery

“During the last six months our colleagues on all our sites have continued to deliver the exceptional service that is expected of a Corps Security Officer, and, for some of these colleagues, in the most trying of circumstances. I would like to say thank you to all the Security Officers who work for Corps not only in the South Region but across the whole of the UK.”

Paul Cloke  – Regional Manager – South, Corps Security

“We would like to thank the security team for their excellent work over the past year especially since March when they remained on campus and helped with keeping the campus open for vulnerable students and contractors for essential building works.

And of course, the many other tasks asked of them. We have had nothing but praise for their dedication and work ethic.”

Middlesex University

“Our facilities and security team in Oxford, Dan Preston, Lewis Baker and Peter Merritt have all achieved fantastic results over the last 12 months with successful events and rallies across the UK and Europe alongside our client. During lockdown they assisted the client in delivering equipment as staff worked from home and ensured the smooth set up of making the building Covid secure. Great work team we are all really proud of the fantastic work you are doing.”

Jake Lacey – Contracts Manager, Corps Security

“I wanted to personally thank Arnie, Mo, Paul and Rizwan for all of their continued support and vigilance especially during the last challenging months where activity and behaviour in the office has changed dramatically.

Arnie in particular has seen a great deal of change to his role during the day and has stepped up to the challenge which we are very grateful for. Equally Paul, Mo and Rizwan have continued to adapt and look after our requests outside of the core offices hours. Many thanks to you all too.

You’ll find individual boxes of chocolates for each of you at the front desk.

Keep up the great work!”

Wayne Quigg – Senior Facilities Manager, International Operations, Eversheds Sutherland

 

Corps Security begins pilot scheme which equips officers with speech to text and translation tools to overcome communication issues caused by wearing face masks, and addresses language barriers.

 Forty Corps Security officers across retail sites in Birmingham, Cheltenham and Exeter have access to transcription functionality (audio to text), written text translating capability and verbal conversation translation between two different languages. All services are delivered via mobile application and operate offline eliminating the need for internet connectivity.

Corps has implemented the transcription service to support communication difficulties posed by wearing a face mask. Individuals with hearing impairments can struggle to understand a security officer wearing a face mask as facial expressions and lip reading are severely hindered. This technology integration ensures security officers can effectively deliver critical safety information about Covid-19 and associated social distancing measures, and ensure the information is fully understood. It also ensures staff, clients and members of the public have a tool to help them raise any concerns and ask questions when a face mask can potentially hinder their own verbal communication.

When language barriers arise, the verbal conversation translation function offers an automatic translation of two-way dialogue as each person speaks, so there’s no need to take turns operating a translation tool. The written text translation service offers an alternative stream of communication. It’s helps a security officer understand what a person is trying to communicate, and helps that person feel assured that what they are communicating has been understood accurately.

This new speech to text and translation technology pilot scheme is led by Neil Shanks, National Account Manager, Corps Security. Commenting on the benefits of the scheme, Shanks said: “Language barriers present security officers with challenges and now we also have the added barrier of face masks which hinder communication. This technology integration could be a key differentiator in ensuring Covid-secure safety information is understood and adhered to, and in determining positive outcomes of stressful situations such as a missing child or preventing a suicide attempt.”

Mike Bullock, CEO, Corps Security said: “Integrating this transcription and translation functionality means our officers are in a stronger position to support our customers and members of the public, and it helps us improve the quality of our service. We can ensure important safety information is conveyed at a time where communicating health and safety measures is absolutely paramount.”

 

Today we are celebrating Thank Your Security Officer Day as part of Security Officer Appreciation Week.

Up and down the country, the Corps Security management team has been travelling to client sites to acknowledge and thank the important security staff that keep us, the workplaces and buildings we occupy safe and secure.

Please continue to join us in showing appreciation to your security staff this ‘Thank Your Security Officer Day’ and share your messages via #thankyoursecurityofficer on social media. We have been inundated with wonderful feedback, comments and photos which we are sharing on Twitter and LinkedIn some of which you can find below:

“All of us at Wood Green Hall would like to thank our dedicated security staff who have stood by us during hard times and difficult situations. We want Christian, Marek and Kandza to know that we greatly appreciate them and all their hard work. They’ve become part of the Wood Green Hall
family and we are so grateful to them and for the service they provide. Whether it be rain, storms, snow, wind, heatwaves or emergencies, they’re always there ready to serve. We THANK YOU AND APPRECIATE YOU!”
– Remi Banjo, Accommodation Manager Commercial Services, Wood Green Hall

“I would just like to formally write to acknowledge the excellent work that the security officers provide on behalf of Facilities Services at client sites in Cardiff, Kingswood and Hove. It would be wrong to pick one officer in particular, as they all go above and beyond their duties and are always willing to adapt and carry out whatever task is requested of them. During the recent months and the changes required to comply with Covid-19, every single officer has continued to perform their tasks with professionalism and sensitivity and have been instrumental in creating a safe working environment for our customers.” – Graham Beswick, Senior Contracts Manager, Kier Group

“During the pandemic, Building Manager Chris Webster at Pinnacle, Leeds showed immense capabilities to adapt quickly to the new Covid-19 restrictions and kept the building accessible to both clients and visitors. I thank you Chris for your hard work and dedication and going the extra mile to meet the requirements of the clients. We really appreciate it.” – Shahrukh Kayani, Corps Building Manager, Corps Security

#thankyoursecurityofficer

For the second year running, Corps Security is excited to host ‘Thank Your Security Officer Day’ on Thursday 17th September, to give thanks to its dedicated security team where it is truly due.

The celebration forms part of Security Officer Appreciation Week which is taking place from the 13-19th September. The international week of recognition provides a great opportunity to acknowledge and thank the important security staff that keep us, the workplaces and buildings we occupy safe and secure.

Working in partnership with a range of clients, the management team at Corps Security will be visiting sites this week to thank their security colleagues in person as well as sharing stories across several social media platforms to acknowledge those who go above and beyond, delivering an unprecedented level of service.

“The past six months have been particularly challenging, as our security colleagues have been on the front-line of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Government’s decision to classify SIA licence-holding security professionals as critical workers has meant that in a number of cases they were the last people standing in many buildings – closing down facilities, supporting skeleton staff, getting premises ready for reopening and generally supporting people as they navigate the new workplace normal,” comments Paul Lotter, Managing Director for Corps Security. “This is an opportunity for us to recognise their dedication and thank them for their service.”

#thankyoursecurityofficer

Please see a summary of the latest government requirements that will come into effect on Monday 14th September with some additional information on track and trace applications.

View Summary here:

Please refer to local guidelines in areas where lockdown has occurred and check with devolved government websites for particular requirements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

About Corps Security

Security Officer Appreciation Week this year is taking place on 13-19th September. It is an international week of recognition and provides a great opportunity to acknowledge and thank the important security staff that keep us, the workplaces and buildings we occupy safe and secure.

For the second year running, Corps Security is excited to host ‘Thank Your Security Officer Day’, this year on Thursday 17th September, to give thanks to our dedicated security colleagues where it is truly due. Security can often be an invisible and thankless task and Corps Security wants to bring security officers out from the shadows and honour those who work around the clock to ensure the safety of everyone within the premises they work.

The past six months have been particularly challenging, and our security officers have been on the front-line of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Government’s decision to classify SIA licence-holding security professionals as critical workers has meant that in many cases they were the last people standing in many buildings – closing down facilities, supporting skeleton staff, getting premises ready for reopening and generally supporting people as they navigate the new workplace normal.

This year, members of the senior management team will be visiting some of our sites to recognise the hard work of our teams and show our appreciation. We are also inviting all of our clients to participate and would like you all to join us in showing appreciation to your security staff this ‘Thank Your Security Officer Day’. Please do share your messages via #thankyoursecurityofficer on social media.

Chris-Stylianou

When did you join Corps and what does your current role involve?

I have been with Corps since 2018 when I TUPEed across from the previous incumbent. I was security supervisor when I started with Corps and then logistics manager, before becoming security manager in August 2019.

In total I’ve worked for more than 20 years in the security industry as well as doing other things like working in property management. Working in property management helped me see things from a different perspective. Having a varied background means I can be more helpful with a wider remit of tasks.

At The Gherkin I am responsible for all security processes in the building, both front and back-of-house. Day-to-day I manage the admin and payroll for my team and ensure all areas are secured and manned. I communicate regularly with City of London Police with regards to counter terrorism. I also create all staff procedures and guidelines and train Corps personnel as well as delivering security awareness training to non-security staff. This makes them feel more comfortable about challenging visitors and contractors.

How has your role changed as a result of Covid-19? 

Like for many people, the pandemic has involved long periods of working from home. I’ve also spent a lot of time refining procedures and managing my team. We split staff into key teams, so they weren’t all in contact with each other and our officers’ shift pattern changed from four-on, four-off to four-on, six-off.

Hundreds of phone calls and video meetings were a very different kettle of fish to the face-to-face contact I’m used to. Usually my role is very hands-on, and it was a real change making sure procedures were enforced from a distance.

The Gherkin is owned by an international company that has other buildings around the world, so it was great to work with global teams that were dealing with different stages of Covid-19. We had a process in place before the government officially announced lockdown, so this made things a lot smoother flowing.

We are now working to welcome back a steady influx of tenants. There will be much more change to come.

What are the main challenges you face in your daily role now compared to before?

Managing my team has become more complex. I have 40 team members and they each have varying needs related to Covid-19. Some need to shield and some have vulnerable family members, so I had to take a view on furloughing those employees. Doing the best for everyone and being fair is quite challenging. It’s a balancing act trying to keep everyone happy. People have a lot of worries at the moment and you have to be sensitive to that.

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?

We’ve done a lot of preparatory work for welcoming tenants back into the building. These procedures started to be created as we were going into lockdown. Now thoughts are more focused on managing breakout and social areas, high traffic flow zones, frequent risk assessments and ensuring we have adequate stocks of PPE. We need to keep people safe and distant.

Floor markers and signage that was initially deployed has had to be revised to meet changing guidance. Entrances and exits have been changed to support a one-way system and how we onboard visitors and contractors has also changed so we can ensure the building is Covid friendly.

During the lockdown period, I set up a Deliveroo account for our security staff to make sure they had food during their shifts – that was something I never thought I’d be doing!

Do you think people’s perception of the role a security officer plays will change as a result of the crisis? 

I’m not sure. I was shopping in a supermarket recently and there was a display of pictures that children had drawn to thank key workers. 12-14 occupations that children wanted to say thank you for were listed but ‘security officer’ was nowhere to be seen. Most of the places that were permitted to trade during lockdown had a security officer present even if they wouldn’t normally as standard practice.

It’s a worry that our roles and the importance of security could be been overlooked especially as we now know that the security officers have the highest death rates from Covid-19.

Security officers have a huge role to play in helping people abide by social distancing too as well as temperature checks and monitoring queue systems and making sure they are safe and effective. Terrorism has not gone away either– it’s not just Covid vigilance that is required.

The security industry is somewhat lost in the background and I think the work we do needs to be reinforced with the public. Generally, we can be thought of as a bit of a nuisance and it’s only in emergency situations like evacuations or terrorist threats that people then become thankful.

What positive things do you think we can take into the post-pandemic world?

I definitely think the pandemic has brought people closer together and made people appreciate the simple things more. It’s also made people realise what you generally take for granted. We lost our liberty for a certain amount of time but for some people this is normal. It’s made us really aware of  things like that in life.

The pandemic has forced people to think about others more and you suddenly realise things that people live through on a day-to-day basis that you had no idea about, like someone being a part-time carer, for example.

It’s good that people can see each other more now especially as many are facing financial hardship or loss. Being able to see other people and getting support is really important.

What’s your favourite thing about working in security?

I’m a really sociable person so I love being around lots of people with different personalities. There are challenges to overcome every day and no day is ever the same, I like that. We often have events at The Gherkin that are attended by very respected people including royals and famous people so it’s nice to be involved in safeguarding them.

What would you say has been your biggest highlight whilst working for Corps?

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of going to Gloucester with some of my team to take part in a counter-terrorism exercise. Security officers and building mangers from reputable establishments all around the country were there. I was so proud of my colleagues and the way they conducted themselves. My team were commended by the Centre of Protection for National Infrastructure (CPNI) and they said they were the best team. Our team was so honoured, and it was a very proud moment for me.

What do you like doing outside of work?

I volunteer as a football coach for a charity football club. I coach a group of 11-year olds, and I’ve been doing it for seven years. It takes up a lot of spare time, but I love it.

Face Masks And The Impact On Security

The safety of people is an absolute priority whether it’s in a Covid-secure health sense or general physical safety.

It’s inevitable that wearing face masks will cause some degree of challenges with the use of technology. Facial recognition is far less effective when face coverings are worn and, where CCTV is concerned,  it becomes more difficult to identify people and detect suspicious behaviour when a person’s complete face cannot be fully seen.

With face masks now compulsory in all shops, and following the announcement that face masks are now compulsory in secondary schools in areas of localised lockdown, with headteachers having the power to enforce face masks in any communal area of all secondary schools, we could expect to see further changes to the legislation around face coverings worn inside buildings. In France, for example, face masks will be compulsory in offices from September.

Access and verification processes would still need to be adhered to and that could mean the temporary removal of face masks to allow facial recognition to do its job. Manual ID pass checks would also require the same treatment. With current low occupancy rates this isn’t a huge problem now but as buildings slowly return to fuller capacity, challenges may arise and entering a building could take longer.

Communication is king. If processes are going to be changing, in any setting, then people need to be made aware of how this will affect them, what they should expect and why they need to do things differently. This will help avoid any pushbacks and ensure a smooth transition with people feeling confident about what to expect. There will always be some people who won’t want to comply and will present difficulties, but on the whole most people want to do the right thing especially if they understand it is for their benefit and those around them.

The relationship between security and face masks will need to evolve to accommodate the new normal. The solution for this will differ from company to company. Some buildings that are solely reliant on facial recognition or CCTV may move to being supported by the physical presence of a security officer, but it will never be one size fits all. As the workplace continues to evolve as a result of the pandemic, it will be more important than ever that clients and security providers collaborate to create a tailored solution that also fits commercial efficacy. System changes and security officer upskilling though will be a common occurrence.

The role of security has changed dramatically over the last 30 years and there have been continuous changes in terms of processes for occupiers. We’ve moved from manual checks to technology integration and remote surveillance and introduced rigorous new visitor check-in measures and asking staff to check-in visitors and lock away their laptops and computer equipment at night. The impact of face masks on security is just a new process to navigate in the ever-changing world of security.

Cycle Security

Following the increased numbers of people cycling to work post-pandemic, we’re talking about keeping bikes safe.

From a security perspective there are several barriers to people cycling to work but also several tools we can use to increase the number of cyclists.

In central London where space is at a premium, giving over increased space to bike storage is going to be a major ask but bike security must be carefully considered. Different organisations will take different approaches, whether that be reducing parking bays, installing new sheds or even using meeting rooms. During the lockdown and in preparation for the return to work, we’ve seen clients encourage the use of cycling to help people avoid public transport and car sharing. A large financial services company is loaning bikes to staff to encourage them to cycle to work, for example, which is a really great initiative.

The key is to ensure that whatever space is used to store bikes is secure. Although responsibility for the bike always rests with the employee when it’s stored on an organisation’s premises, if it is stolen it can create bad feeling within the business. We have clients who have suffered bike thefts in the past and it always causes major issues and of course upset for the individuals concerned. As a response, we use three different approaches to keep bikes safe:

Facial analytics: in many sites we provide a tool which matches a person with a bike. The technology ‘sees’ the person arrive with that unique bike and prevents another person leaving with the same bike – unless it’s been warned to expect that, for example if someone is borrowing a colleague’s bike.

Asset tracking: we use asset tracking technology with tags attached to bikes linked to an app. The bike owner can check the location of the bike at all times and can be matched with the bike when they return to collect it at the end of the day.

SmartWater: we make sure that bikes stored on clients’ premises are all invisibly marked with SmartWater, a solution which contains a unique forensic code which is exclusively assigned to that bike. It’s been likened to the concept of DNA profiling. If the bike is stolen and later recovered by the Police it can be matched easily with its owner.

Another challenge, which if often overlooked, is bicycles being stored in the racks for several years, without being used and just taking up space which other bike owners could use. We use MyTAG technology to manage that. Bicycles have a tag attached, which contains details of the owner and their contact details, allowing them to be easily contacted if their bicycle needs to be moved.

We’ve seen a great response to our own Cycle to Work scheme. It’s great for mental and physical wellbeing and also for the environment.

Enjoy the exercise and cycle safe!

James Morgan

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.