It was the pivot no business was expecting. Buildings created for the flow and traffic of occupants have now become empty with the impact of COVID-19, requiring the closure of non-essential businesses across the country. Beyond it’s tremendous blow to the global economy, it has also proven to require a change in how buildings think about their physical security in a time when costs must be balanced with potential threats.

Contending with rising unemployment and market volatility, companies are grappling with ways to control costs. CNBC reported that unemployment claims rose to over 280,000 and are continuing to climb. One of the misconceptions of a building with no occupants in it is that it no longer needs the robust security protocols that it once required. 

Here we address 3 myths of physical security in the new age of remote working to ensure that you are keeping your occupants and physical properties as safe and secure as possible.

You should downsize your security staff.
The core purpose for most security staff at the entrance of a facility is to check employee ID cards and manage visitor access. If employees are required to stay at home and there are no visitors allowed on the premises, you can reduce security staff, but it is not realistic to eliminate it.  A locked door only stops honest people. In a truly secure environment, you need somebody to monitor the door and ensure that it is not breached by those who shouldn’t have access to it.

Because there aren’t as many people on-site, I’m less vulnerable to security threats.
While this could be true for physical threats, it leaves you completely vulnerable to other security threats, such as data or network breaches. The worst crimes are the ones you will never see. Cybersecurity is based on a delicate balance of blocking external access to networks and servers while allowing internal access for employees with fewer roadblocks. If physical security is reduced, criminals can break into the networks and insert code that could steal intellectual property, trade secrets, or corporate funds, leaving their mark indefinitely.

There is no way to truly be prepared for a rare event like a pandemic.
Organizations most likely have crisis management plans for situations such as preparations for terrorism, an active shooter, or even a natural catastrophe. The chances that a global pandemic was in their plan, is pretty slim. Crisis management plans can be created from a broad general scope down to a very specific set of instances unique to an industry or department. Specific instances have been shown to be effective, as long as they are based on adaptive reasoning, not simple “if-than” scenarios. Physical security solutions like Fastlane® turnstiles and Door Detective from Smarter Security are made even smarter when integrated with SmarterAccess, a modern access control system that unlike today’s static systems, is dynamic. SmarterAccess allows you to automate permission changes based upon pre-determined variables that affect security vulnerabilities. For example, if all employees at a facility have been sent home, not even a valid ID card will open the turnstile.

One of the overarching learning lessons from COVID-19 in the area of physical security is the evaluation of crisis management plans. Security protocols often have not been evaluated for a global pandemic, considering one has not hit the United States since 1918. Updating security protocols is and should be, an ongoing process.

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