Security industry professionals and businesses found themselves in various states of preparedness when COVID-19 struck. The pandemic has affected companies differently, forcing leadership teams across the industry to develop plans and address issues in their own way. Here, we examine the effects of the pandemic on the security industry and offer guidance moving forward.
COVID-19: When the Unthinkable Happens
Understanding and accepting the possibility of a crisis happening is not the same as expecting it. Public health experts sounded alarms for years about impending pandemics. We even experienced trial runs with diseases like SARS and H1N1, but no one fully understood how a highly contagious, human-to-human transmitted virus could spread devastation and chaos across the globe – until now.
COVID-19, a respiratory sickness caused by a novel coronavirus, showed us just how disruptive a disease could be. With computer models initially projecting a U.S. death toll of at-risk populations possibly in the millions, officials enacted unprecedented mitigation efforts and, in an attempt to save lives and prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed, shuttered the economy.
Thankfully, the drastic measures taken may have worked in part and experts began considerably lowering death estimates. However, the economy took an extraordinary blow; the full effects of which, even as the country slowly begins to open again, are not fully known.
Reimagined Security Command Central
More than the substantial loss of life and the damaged economy, COVID-19 forced many security industry professionals to rethink some fundamental aspects of doing business. As many local and state officials followed federal guidelines and issued stay-at-home orders, security companies had to decide how they would continue operations.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) moved quickly to relax, where possible, restrictions on UL-authorized command centers to allow monitoring operators to work from home. This action provided immediate advantages to security companies that had previously embraced high-availability, cloud-based monitoring technology. Employers who decided that operators working at home represented a viable route were then left to work out issues like accountability, pay structure, and workload, since they were treading on totally new territory.
Other companies, ones that rely primarily on on-site monitoring systems, had to devise ways to allow their employees to work safely at the monitoring center. This effort required implementing social distancing measures, increased cleaning and disinfection of hard surfaces, and designating employees as “essential” to overcome travel restriction ordinances.
Whichever situation security providers found themselves in, whether staffing on-site command centers or managing work-at-home employees, the critical factor was maintaining service levels to their customers. Predicting an event is difficult, but after it has transpired, it’s easier to predict it is not the last time it will occur. When your primary function is protecting the lives and property of your customers and employees, it pays to plan for any contingency.
Security Industry COVID-19 Stimulus and Relief
The forced economic shutdown called for a never-before-seen $2 trillion injection of cash from Uncle Sam. The multi-layered Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) includes monies for every sector of the economy, from large corporations all the way down to individual consumers.
The CARES Act offers meaningful financial support for security industry jobs so that companies can stay operational. The government is directing money to businesses to both preserve jobs and recharge a flailing economy. Benefits of the CARES Act include:
A 50% credit on up to $10,000 of wages paid from March 13, 2020, through December 31, 2020. This benefit offers an incentive for employers to keep employees on the payroll.
IRS-issued tax credits to help cover the cost paid for sick and family leave wages due to the virus.
A payroll tax deferral to help enhance businesses’ cash flow to maintain operations.
The Paycheck Protection Program, which provides billions of dollars in forgivable loans to companies that keep existing employees on the payroll and use the money to pay salaries.
These and other similar efforts contained in the CARES Act will prove meaningful to, and hopefully, help rescue security industry businesses struck hard by the pandemic.
Life After COVID-19 and Beyond
No one knows for sure how long the COVID-19 disease will be with us, but one thing is certain – its shadow will remain a permanent fixture. As plans are already underway to reopen parts of the country’s economy under strict guidelines set forth by President Trump’s administration, it is time to start planning for the future in a post-COVID-19 world.
Companies now must envision what a safe return to a standard work schedule entails. The primary concern for the foreseeable future will be shielding workers from any viral transmission. Protective measures may take the form of restructuring the current workplace environment to accommodate ample social distancing and proper direction of visitor flow. Temperature screening for anyone entering the building and improved cleaning regiments will also be a part of the new normal.
Companies need to immediately start investing in personal protective equipment, thermometers, new signage, and other items to facilitate a quick return to central command posts. Staff will also require ongoing education programs to help them internalize the latest best practices for safety.
Another possible route, where allowable and practical, is to allow workers to continue to operate from home. UL has announced that it is seeking feedback for extended remote worker guidelines, possibly signaling that some of the authorizations to work at home could be permanent.
The security of systems will be a significant consideration. Companies that decide to explore maintaining remote workers will need to evaluate their existing infrastructure to determine if their cloud-based monitoring platforms are robust enough to meet the high-target nature of security work.
Help Moving Forward for Your Security Business
Getting back on track after disruption of this magnitude may require some expert guidance. Bold Group has well over 30 years of experience providing a comprehensive array of alarm monitoring and integrated financial management solutions to help security dealers achieve optimal business performance. Our UL-listed, on-premises, and cloud solutions, along with our expertise in all aspects of the security field, can get you back operationally and help position you for a healthy future. Learn more about what Bold Group has to offer.