Mike Bullock, CEO of Corps Security, talks to Facilitate about how coronavirus is changing the FM role.
Facilitate: Please describe how your company has been affected by the outbreak of Covid-19? Do you provide services to any clients that are at the front line of this?
MB: The number of our clients who have shut down their buildings completely is quite limited. We don’t operate much in the leisure, retail or hospitality sectors so have been unaffected by the massive impact of the lockdown in those industries. Where we do have clients in those spaces – such as museums – they still need a security presence to keep their buildings safe.
Some of our clients are considered part of the national infrastructure and are still operating. That includes financial services firms, utility companies and distribution centres (DCs). Some are busier than ever. We support a client delivering oxygen for hospitals, for example, which is operating around the clock, while DCs are also operating above their normal working pattern.
Overall the security sector has been less affected by Covid-19 than other soft services like catering and cleaning as it’s seen as an essential service – as demonstrated by the government’s decision to classify licence-holding security professionals as critical workers. Policing is stretched at the moment and the private security industry needs to do everything it can to support them.
F: So how has your daily routine/procedures had to change specifically?
MB: The main difference is that some of the buildings we’re operating in are not at full capacity and have a skeleton staff. So the type of work is different. In some instances there are fewer or no receptionists, so we’re performing more front-of-house roles.
At the same time, we’re also very focused on managing our staff resources. Some people are ill, or self-isolating because a member of their family has Covid-19 or has been in contact with someone who has. Those reductions in available staff are largely balanced out by a reduction in requirements across the board. But it’s a major balancing act to make sure we have the right resources where they need to be.
We’re operating more mobile teams than in the past. Some organisations which have shut down their buildings are opting for mobile support during this time. We have a remote monitoring centre and some clients are using more technology-based security rather than manned guarding.
F: How do you feel the jobs of FM companies and FMs as individuals will have to change in the long-term because of what this pandemic is showing us?
MB: There’s going to be a new world order for security when this pandemic is over. Humans have proven to be the weak point in the security chain. Technology, like CCTV, has proven to be unaffected. Because of that, we’ll see a shift towards more tech-based security operations.
There will still be manned guards, but organisations will want smaller, more highly-skilled and trained teams, who will be better paid, to complement their technology. Security will become a more highly skilled role.
This crisis has also shown that the public value frontline roles, which have previously been seen as low-skilled, like supermarket assistants, refuse collectors and security officers. There is new respect for these positions as a result of the pandemic.