The new normal will soon be known as simply “the normal.” Workplaces will buzz with activity again. Physical security practices that have been on pause over the past year will be put to work. But the return to the workplace shouldn’t be business as usual for security teams.
A lot has changed over the last year. Security teams must keep companies safe and prevent costly damage and threats to business continuity. To do that, they need to understand how the workplace will be different post-pandemic and put measures in place to address these changes. Here are four key shifts in workplace security that companies can anticipate.
1. Flexible employee schedules will be the norm
For many companies, returning to work will be noticeably different than it was a year ago. Employees want more flexibility and expect their employers to trust that they can work on and off-site.
This will be the case for companies that adopt a hybrid work model. Under this model of work, employees will have less predictable work schedules. With people coming in and out of the workplace at differing times, your security team can’t rely on pen and paper sign-in systems to keep your company secure. A sophisticated workplace platform will help safeguard your people, physical workspace, and intellectual property. This technology should help you know who is on-site at all times, keep unwanted visitors out of your workplace, and meet visitor-related compliance needs.
2. Security education won’t be a nice-to-have
In this new world, there are new risks. To keep your business safe, employees need proper security education and training. Employees should be aware of security measures they can take that prevent day-to-day risks. For example, do your employees know how to report a suspicious visitor or contractor? Are employees aware of the potential dangers of tailgating and how to mitigate them? By educating people on how to keep your company secure, you can cast a wider safety net over your organization.
Security awareness training must be planned, structured, and ongoing. Educate your employees on how your physical security may change, and provide useful tips on how to prevent risks. This may take the form of quarterly interactive training sessions. You should reinforce these training sessions with workplace awareness materials. For example, your team might send out a monthly email newsletter with tips on how to identify and prevent security risks. On top of that, you might use on-site signage to remind employees of security best practices.
3. Health and safety will be a permanent security matter
It’s too soon to know whether workplace health and safety is a short or long-term concern for employees. Employees might expect companies to take extra precautions each winter during flu season. This might look like lower workplace capacities, social distancing, and increasing the frequency of cleaning schedules. It could also include health screenings for employees and visitors at check-in, and having personal protection equipment available on-site. In other words, a lot of practices we see today. Only time will tell, but employers should prepare to put these policies and practices in place.
You can find out what your workforce expects by engaging them in a survey. Partner with HR and your workplace team to craft one that’s focused on health and safety. The results will tell you where you need to invest your security efforts. You may find, for example, that employees are particularly worried about sick people coming into the workplace in the winter. If that’s the case, you may need to implement health screenings, limit guest access, and enforce capacity limits. Knowing what will make your workforce feel comfortable working on-site will be key to supporting productivity.
4. Contingency plans will be more critical than ever
This past year, we’ve seen firsthand how having a backup plan can be key to enabling business continuity. Your team should be prepared when security matters don’t go according to plan. With a preparedness strategy in place, your company will be better positioned to handle workplace threats. Here are a few benefits to having a contingency plan:
- Mitigate risk and liability
- Increase employee productivity and retention
- Positive brand recognition and reputation
- Positive impact on company revenue
Like security awareness training for employees, preparedness is essential. Not every mitigation tactic will be effective at thwarting risks. But if you prepare for the possibility of a security breach, you’ll be able to take swift action if one occurs.
Security has always been about identifying and mitigating risks. In the new normal, this still stands. To keep up, security teams need to be mindful of how the workplace is changing, the new risks it faces, and how they can keep on top of these risks as they crop up.