Security focus: Supporting the safe return of employees to site

With COVID19 lockdown restrictions starting to reduce, many businesses are busy formulating plans for how they will manage the safe return of employees, customers and visitors to their premises.

Producing and effectively implementing a strategy of this nature calls for cross-team collaboration; from leadership and facilities teams, through to HR, internal comms, line managers and of course, employees themselves. With strong communication across all levels being crucial for its successful delivery.

Security teams who are on the front line and have experience in managing issues such as access control and movement in and around the premises, will have an important role to play in these conversations. Moving forward, they will also be vital for enforcing new safety measures and procedures, while ensuring ongoing threats continue to be addressed.


What kind of changes may we expect to see implemented?

While no-one knows what life after coronavirus may look like for businesses, especially in the long run, assessing the risk, staying across the latest guidance and adapting operations as necessary, is going to be key for a safe return.

We know from speaking to clients and facilities teams that many different approaches are being considered, dependant on the size, location and space an individual business may have available.

Some of the most common include:

  • Introducing one-way systems, signage, floor stickers and barriers
  • Installing anti-bac hand gel stations
  • Separating and distancing work areas and desks
  • Staggering shift patterns to reduce the volume of people who are in and the likelihood of a whole team becoming ill
  • Increased cleaning and the frequency of deep cleans
  • Temporarily closing communal areas, such as kitchens, or limiting use to certain groups of employees

Here are three examples of other larger-scale tactics and technologies being looked at:



Care Portals

Care Portals are temporary structures that can be set up outside a main entrance to screen employees and visitors before they enter a building. These units can be used to check temperatures, along with having handwashing facilities and areas for staff, who can also provide PPE when it is needed.

Rapid Retail is one company that is providing such units, highlighting their potential for managing high volumes of people quickly. (Their portals offering the capability to screen three people simultaneously every 30 seconds). According to MD Nick Daffern, the portals are effective for large employers, but also train stations, hospitals, schools and sports grounds.  


Temperature screening

This technology works by monitoring heat to spot individuals who may have a high temperature. It is available in a range of different forms, including thermal cameras (that are similar to CCTV cameras), handheld scanners and wall mounted self-test scanners, which an individual would use before entering an area.

As with any monitoring system, there will always be a need for somebody reacting to what is being shown. There may also be an automated process, whereby someone’s access pass won’t let them through if they are flagged as having a raised temperature. However, as there are many reasons why someone may have a raised temperature, this technology is best considered as part of a wider strategy and set of measures, not as a standalone solution. It is important to remember that this particular technology cannot guarantee to work as many people will be asymptomatic for several days before presenting symptoms, such as a raised temperature.


Contactless access control systems

Controlling access to the premises and buildings is another area many facilities teams are focusing on. In some cases, longer term plans to invest in this area are now being fast-tracked to create both a safer and more secure environment.

Various types of access control systems are being considered, with contactless entry proving very popular for obvious reasons. For example, facial recognition software and other forms of biometrics, or the simple presentation of an electronic fob. There is potential for such systems to be linked so access is not permitted until heat scans or other checks have been undertaken and passed.

As well as entry, access control systems can also limit access to certain areas of a building, which could help limit contact and potential spread, as well as increase security.



What is clear is that security teams have a vital role to play in the design, implementation and management of any new safety measures and technologies that may be introduced as a result of COVID19.

There are many tactics and technologies available to support such plans, but every business and premises is different and will require its own bespoke solution.

While COVID19 may be dominating the headlines, it is only one piece of the puzzle. Existing threats haven’t gone away and must still be recognised and managed. Criminals will also be looking to use the pandemic and any change and uncertainty it may bring for businesses, to their own advantage.


By Paul Howe, MD Venture Security