Security guards are much more than just a guard at the front door. This has been happening for years and the industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has proven their necessary presence, but also the continued dependence of markets on their diverse skills.
Today, as the opening of workplaces and retail stores increases, security guards are being called upon to take on new responsibilities. These may include conducting temperature checks at reception areas, maintaining social distances in the workplace, and enforcing mask use.
Not only will these tasks have to be performed beyond day-to-day work, but they will be done amid increased tensions across the country.
Millions of people are anxious to get back to “normal” life, whether it means going to the office, shopping or going out for fun. The reality is that we all have new rules to follow. Some have been imposed by the government, while individual companies implement their own protocols. And in many cases, it is up to the security officer to enforce them.
The way the new rules are enforced will significantly affect the outcome. This is why communication skills are so important to security guards. These skills include politeness, flexibility, problem solving ability and negotiation ability. They are essential in an industry that has such a frequent face-to-face contact with the general public.
For example, social distances in the workplace. Businesses use a range of methods to encourage social distance, such as larger office spaces, one-way systems and signage that remind employees of the new rules. But old habits are hard to forget and it is likely that many will not follow certain procedures. In addition, after a few months of quarantine, many people would like to face the office as before and enjoy the opportunity to meet their colleagues.
Security guards need to find a balance between all of the above and their overzealousness in enforcing the rules.
Communication will be the key to success. Many times, a gentle reminder to passers-by who do not follow the rules is enough. However, there is also the possibility of aggressive or threatening behaviors.
Maintaining a calm demeanor is essential. Guards should also remind people “why” the rules apply – even though they already know, explaining “why” it helps, while justifying the intentions behind a behavior.
A strong customer relationship is also essential. This is an opportunity for security providers to consolidate their relationships and position themselves as key advisors for back-to-work programs and retail store openings. Security providers and customers need to agree on the protocols that apply and how they should be implemented so that security officers know exactly how to perform their role.
Providers should also consider training for new core skills. Regardless of when the most recent training took place, this situation is unique and a rejuvenating course would probably be particularly beneficial for the guards and therefore for the clients.
The coming months are a real opportunity for security guards to play a key role in the commons. Let’s not forget that much of their work from March until today has been behind the scenes or in empty buildings. Through the application of their special skills, they can help ensure a positive experience for all parties involved in any situation.