From Workplace Violence to Hybrid Office Models — 5 Security Concerns

As the world continues to reopen and return to normal after two full years of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are starting to adjust to a reality where physical security concerns are evolving somewhat from where they were back in 2019.

With physical and cyber security so integrated, we are in an era where business leaders have to stay abreast of the latest developments in how to keep themselves, their companies, and their assets safe.

In a recent post, Security Magazine’s Ryan Schonfeld outlines five of the key physical security concerns you should have right now for your business. Here’s an overview:

  • Look out for violence at the office: Schonfeld cites a recent report that found 1 in every 7 people do not feel safe at their workplace. This could mean violence between co-workers, between customers and clients, between those who have personal relationships in the office, among other dynamics. As society addresses a mental health crisis that is dovetailing with the pandemic, a return to the office means that we have to be vigilant around social interactions that could become heightened. The magazine recommends an emphasis on access control — who you let into your building — as well as making the best use of HR to screen who is hired.
  • Be on top of theft and crime: Physical crimes like burglaries, vandalism, shoplifting, theft, robbery, and fraud are all on the rise. As this negative trend continues, it’s important that business owners craft a physical security strategy plan. First of all, train your security team and other employees in what to do in case there is a crime — no one should be caught off guard and be ill prepared. Social media is also a method to coordinate this kind of criminal activity. Make sure you scan social media references to your place of business.
  • Prepare for natural disasters: Along with the pandemic, mental health crisis, and the rise in physical crime, we are living in a time of unprecedented natural disasters. All businesses need to have disaster management strategies. Schonfeld pinpoints that business owners need to have “business continuity and recovery plans for hazardous weather.” This could be a flood, a forest fire, or an earthquake, among others. Some security systems can be put in place to help detect oncoming threats, and most importantly, be sure to hold trainings with employees to know what to do and where to evacuate in case there is a natural disaster in your geographic area.
  • Post-pandemic, biosecurity is key: Physical health of employees, business owners, and clients is front and center, especially after two years of a global health crisis. The magazine recommends that you always stay on top of updates from the likes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health administrators in your area. Your business should invest in robust contact tracing to prevent further COVID-19 variant outbreaks — or occurrences of future disease outbreaks — and make sure you have protocols in place to adjust to changes in your office’s physical structure. You want to keep in mind questions like: Should I re-institute physical distancing if an outbreak occurs? Should masking be introduced if a new virus emerges? What training do I need to provide my employees?
  • Adjusting to hybrid work-from-home/work-in-office models: The world continues to determine how best to implement hybrid work-from-home/work-in-office models. Schonfeld suggests that business owners and managers need to figure out a way to cater to everyone’s preferences. This could mean having employees register for a desk ahead of time, keeping a record of who is working from home and who isn’t, and create better integration between both the cybersecurity and physical security teams on staff.

Published by Peter Cavicchia

Peter Cavicchia is a retired U.S. Secret Service Senior Executive, now Chairman of the security consulting firm Strategic Services International LLC.

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