Front of house In times of high stress, people look to authoritative figures both to enforce precautions and provide reassurance. Front of house (FoH) skills are being tested more than ever. Excellent customer service is essential regardless of who a security officer is interacting with; they can be used to diffuse situations, build rapport with clients and tenants, and add a sense of comfort and safety.

Both customer service skills and the flexibility to adapt to rapidly changing situations are key. Many sites – such as offices – are being rearranged and new rules implemented to enforce social distancing. Officers should be well trained on new layouts, protective equipment, and regulations so they can guide those returning to the site. This training should cover new logistical aspects of the site as well as FoH skills.

“Whether officers have been

through customer service previously or not, it will be valuable to

introduce training specific to the current circumstances.”

The role of the security officer was already moving more towards a FoH focus and the pandemic will accelerate that change. Whether officers have been through customer service previously or not, it will be valuable to introduce training specific to the current circumstances.

Working on the front line and diffusing stressful situations takes its toll. Security officers have long accepted the risk of verbal and physical attacks on the job. Now, they can also become a target for people to relieve their own stress, as well as risking potential exposure to the virus. Understanding the toll this takes on mental health is very important. Having at least one person in the organisation that is mental health first aid trained or providing access to independent help can make a huge difference.

Preparing for the ‘new normal’ As people return to work and regularly spend more time in public, new safety procedures are coming into place. Along with other frontline workers, security officers are working to allow the rest of us to return to some form of normal. Officers may undertake daily or weekly checks for facilities management teams. New forms of risk assessments and threat management need to be carried out and officers must quickly adapt. Formal training and accreditation can help them through this process.

In addition to access control, protecting buildings, and providing a warm welcome, officers need to guide people as they adapt to the ‘new normal’. They must walk people through new procedures and reinforce social distancing measures. They may be required to manage building capacity and take temperatures with hand-held thermal


imaging equipment. Where staff are working split-shifts, they will need to ensure only those expected at the building are allowed in. FoH skills will be all the more important when having difficult conversations with people if they need to be turned away from a building.

Another challenge some will face is managing measures in multi-tenanted buildings. The procedures will not be effective if only some tenants choose to follow them. It may also anger some tenants to feel they are being put at risk by others despite taking all safety measures themselves. These issues can be managed more easily when security firms have strong working relationships with clients. They can manage disputes by making safety recommendations and guiding clients.

Supporting security more broadly Private security officers are also supporting the wider security community. Training such as Action of Counter Terrorism (ACT) awareness enables our officers to manage a broader range of threats. ACT training covers hostile reconnaissance, identifying potential threats and how private security can support the police services in the event of a terrorist attack. It also covers issues of radicalisation and the tools and knowledge to identify the early signs. A high level of training and preparedness is the best means of preventing security issues before they occur. This is so important when many services are already stretched to their limits.

Protecting everyone Security officers continue to carry out their work despite being one of the most vulnerable groups. Of all frontline workers, security officers have suffered one of the highest death-rates form COVID-19. We must implement strong protective measures to minimise this risk wherever possible. Alongside the other training, officers should have a full understanding of COVID-19 and how it is spread.

“FoH skills will be all the more important when having difficult

conversations with people if they need to be turned away from a building.”

There are many factors to consider on the frontline of the pandemic and there will be more as the situation continues to change. The security firms will have to provide officers who can adapt to new ways of approaching security measures, are highly knowledgeable on a host of different factors, and can provide excellent customer service. Many of these skills have long been honed within the industry but they will be put to the test in the coming months more than ever.

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