10 Lessons Learned from Keeping Businesses Running Through the Pandemic 

Whilst the majority of the UK and Ireland have turned to a remote working model through the Pandemic, G4S have continued to operate services as normal at a number of critical national infrastructure sites as well as testing centres and vaccination hubs.

Through this period, we have gained a considerable amount of insight on what situations may present themselves. Here are just a few examples of the situations that may present themselves to businesses reopening in the weeks ahead:- 

 

1. Staff will feel uncomfortable returning 

Clearly, for many people it could be up to a year since they were last in public places. From those who have continued to work through the period, we have observed:-

Increased tension and signs of mental distress 
Noticeable anxiety and discomfort about being in other people’s company 
Employees expecting the employer to have visible and tangible activity in place 


Simple operational measures such as signage and staff communications clearly play a key part. Our experience has shown dedicated personnel responsible for enforcing best practice can provide a visible presence to reassure employees and visitors. 

We’ve found this works best when the individuals performing this role are customer friendly and operate with a “We’re here to help” mentality and escalate breaches into second level security where needed. 


2. Limit physical contact with “frequently touched” surfaces  

Occupational Health recommends minimising physical contact. Whilst continuing to operate, we  quickly noticed people’s nervousness about coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces such as lift buttons or access control points. 

Therefore, it is important to plan for how employees and visitors can pass through and around your premises, keeping physical contact at an absolute minimum, but also retaining the necessary security controls. 

A number of our customers have reviewed their existing access control systems to make use of frictionless technology such as proximity readers, mobile phone applications or even facial recognition. 

This can help provide the correct security controls but also importantly ensure safe passage.


3. Enforcing compliance with distancing and PPE guidelines requires effort 

Enforcing compliance with new social distancing and face covering regulations is critical to
combating the spread of infection and providing people with the confidence to return to work.

Both for employee and visitor reassurance as well as ensuring best practice, we have found visible presence and activity so important. Our COVID Champions have proved a publicly friendly way of enforcing the guidelines. 

People can’t be everywhere so  back in the control room, our teams have found the latest analytics in modern surveillance platforms very useful to identify breaches and provide real time notification of groups forming and loitering, enabling the Champions on the ground to take swift and decisive action. 

Finally, at points of ingress we have made use of technology which validates that all individuals entering the building are wearing appropriate PPE and flags exceptions. We’ve supplied these terminals completely independently of existing access control systems - so a great quick way of introducing controls at reception. 


4. Preventing unauthorised access is critical 

Clearly it has become so important to prevent unauthorised access into the building until people have gone through the correct screening processes, whether temperature checking, lateral flow testing, PPE compliance checking and so on. 

We have found a visible presence in busy reception and points of ingress really useful. We’ve also been working with our clients using our queue management experience to ensure that staff and visitors enjoy a smooth passage into the premises, whilst the appropriate controls are followed. 

We have also been using thermal screening equipment to check for temperature and manage exceptions to help our customers do everything possible to prevent potential carriers entering the premises. 


5. Personnel Throughput and Flow may lead to congestion 

Against this backdrop, we have seen the increased controls and point of ingress lead to bottlenecks and crowding in reception and holding areas. As a result, we have been delivering consultancy on queue management, whilst our employees have been providing stewarding services to prevent congestion and ensure a smooth and safe passage into the building.


6. Don’t get Overcrowded! Occupancy Levels Need Controlling 

Health and safety have been clear over the past six months that building and campus occupancy levels shouldn’t reach levels which make distancing impossible.  Maintaining a safe distance between individuals in a building is recommended by organisations such as Public Health England to help reduce the spread of infection.


We’ve been using video analytics and people counting technology to help manage the flow and count of building occupants based on your threshold for building size and regulatory compliance. Think of the queueing system in place when you go to the supermarket for example. 

Simple but visible “Stop” and “Go” systems give clear instructions to your visitors but also use science to prevent numbers reaching dangerous levels. This technology is easy to implement and cost effective versus having an employee stand at the entrance.

 

7. Identify and Trace Contact 

Where we have continued to operate, it has become clear that a robust system is required to identify and trace contact in the event of a positive reading. 

Management information from our access control systems has been a useful source of information to identify who may have been in contact with whom - for example who was in the same part of the building at the same time. 

Often it can feel like a needle in a haystack and this is a great source of information to help get started. 


8. Some Staff Won’t Return 

Whilst we have been supporting sites that deliver critical services through the pandemic, we have also operated with many businesses that have been successful in operating remotely and are therefore unlikely to return anytime soon, if at all. 

This in turn poses new challenges with information security and the health and wellbeing of the workforce being so important to meet the employer duty of care and ensure regulatory compliance. 

We have supplied lone worker technology which provides a valuable means of keeping your remote staff in permanent contact with support teams, as well as offering assistance should a security or safety incident occur. 

A simple mobile phone application links your employees to a remote support centre who can intervene if a dangerous situation is alerted, they can support employees or report their location to emergency services should an escalation be required. 

 

9. Large Volumes of Real Estate Will Remain Empty 

With this migration to remote working well underway, large volumes of real estate have remained vacant and in many cases will remain vacant over the medium term. For the security industry, suddenly we are met with the challenge of protecting what is left behind. 

Random or scheduled property inspections are a great way of keeping an eye on what is going on at these premises at regular intervals. Visits are usually supported  with documentary evidence that gives you peace of mind that all is safe and secure. 

For more real time monitoring - where you have particularly valuable assets or outdoor spaces left exposed, we have provided temporary CCTV towers for real time external surveillance. 

These provide a feed in a real time  24/7 to our monitoring station and are a great way of putting the right protective measures in place. 

The towers are supplied on a rental basis, meaning there is no expensive capex or lengthy commitment and are solar powered. For sites where security hasn’t previously been needed, they are a great way of putting controls in place quickly and temporarily. 

The supporting monitoring station acts as your “eyes on the ground” and takes pre agreed escalation action should an issue occur. 


10. Plan, Plan, Plan 

Finally, through lockdown, we have learnt to expect the unexpected and to plan for every eventuality. Here are just some of the scenarios that have presented themselves:- 

- Staff no longer feel safe in the workplace and are refusing to return 
- Your reception area becomes dangerously congested all of a sudden
- You are asked to organise and manage the lateral flow test process 
- Someone returns positive on the 3rd floor 
- You have seen an increase in lost and stolen mobile devices since people have been working remotely 

 
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