If you have questions about reopening a retail or commercial space in light of the global pandemic, you’re not alone. The good news is that concrete, expert advice and guidance is available. Stacy Gallant, Director, Consulting Services, Investigations and Executive Protection at GardaWorld, recently spoke as part of a Canadian Security magazine webinar Focus On Recovery: A Guide for Property Managers and Retailers. He covered what we’ve learned in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic about keeping employees and customers safe, while inspiring confidence and open communication.
GardaWorld’s role in reducing infection risk at retail and commercial properties
Gallant outlined the ways that GardaWorld’s risk consultants and security personnel are currently helping businesses reduce risk and fulfill their duty of care. “There are lots of different ways that [we] can assist in the retail industry or the commercial industry to help them get back into that recovery mode,” he said. Often, the first service GardaWorld offers clients is a pandemic security audit. Experts identify potential risks for viral spread and make recommendations to mitigate these risks, such as by implementing plexiglass, physical distancing signage on the floor, and enhancing queuing protocols.
One of the most important measures is to utilize security personnel to ensure physical distancing by maintaining limited numbers at retail stores and commercial buildings. Here, entry and exit strategies are vital to ensure that all people entering and exiting, including through side doors, are accounted for. In addition, GardaWorld has also implemented temperature screenings, via handheld devices or the more advanced automated check technology, especially for workplaces that require people to be in close proximity.
Open communication is vital to any reopening and recovery strategy
As companies begin to welcome the public and employees as they focus on recovery, Gallant explained that it’s not just about the efforts they put in place, but how these efforts are communicated. All staff and clients must know the measures in place and the expectations of them. “Make sure everyone knows what you’re doing at all times,” Gallant explained in the webinar. Security personnel at the door can also be a key part of a communication strategy by outlining expectations regarding masks, and other protective measures that have been put in place.
In addition, management should make clear from the outset that plans will naturally change as more information about the spread of the virus comes to light and potential weak spots are identified. “The biggest thing is staying informed and adjusting, as required,” said Gallant. Effective communication is especially important when protocols and guidance are changing, so that everyone is on the same page and understands the justification for the changes. Transparency and open communication is key to attracting people to come in and maintain buy-in for risk mitigation measures.
Companies must prepare responses to positive cases and ensure their duty of care is fulfilled
Finally, retail and commercial property managers should be prepared with plans to address sicknesses and positive cases. Plans should be in place to provide back-up security and frontline talent in the event personnel call in sick or are required to self-isolate. In addition, companies need protocols for contact tracing and informing (and possibly testing) anyone who may have had contact with a positive case—or potentially positive case. While companies can aid in contact tracing, documentation of employees and clients entering the building, as well as their location in the building, are important tools that assist in contact tracing and show appropriate care and effort by the employer.
Due to the significant duty of care responsibilities that employers have to their employees, Gallant underlined the importance of documenting risk assessments and steps taken to mitigate transmission risks in as detailed a manner as possible. “The best place to start is documenting your efforts and keeping track of what you do, because you may need this at some point,” explained Gallant.
Despite the ongoing uncertainty of the global pandemic, detailed risk assessments and risk mitigation protocols, together with strong communication and documentation, will allow businesses to open responsibly and safely. By ensuring against outbreaks and showing care to employees and customers, a careful and robust reopening strategy makes good business sense, helping companies retain employees and inspire customer appreciation and confidence.
To learn about how GardaWorld can help you optimize your business continuity plan, contact us today or request a quote.