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What will post-covid look like?

For the March 2021 print edition of Professional Security magazine, we are looking forward to what the next few months might look like – both as the country emerges, we hope, out of the coronavirus pandemic, and in terms of other physical and cyber threats that have gone on before and regardless of the pandemic. We’ll be looking at risk forecasts, manned guarding, and tech.

Tim Molden, a board member of the UK chapter of the security management association ASIS, asks: what will the post-covid workplace look like? Tim is Head of Security and Licensing of Capital Arches Group, who operate 30 McDonald’s restaurants in London. We interviewed Tim in his Met Police days in the April 2016 print edition of Professional Security.

Tim writes:

The pandemic has forced organisations to think differently about how they operate. There will be some that come out of this crisis stronger and better but I’m certain nearly all will change the way they work and collaborate. At my own organisation it has forced us to look at how we can use technology to work smarter, to connect employees more easily and to improve our internal communication. One of the positives of the last year (I appreciate there aren’t many) is that we have taken the opportunity to use video conference software to conduct training, meetings, and webinars. Something I am sure will be here to stay post-covid.

Challenges

Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges. Many companies have risen to the occasion and I have been proud to be associated with a brand that genuinely cares for their staff and their customers. In March 2020 McDonald’s made the decision to close prior to the government lockdown announcement and although it has been tough for the company and their franchisees, we acted swiftly, introducing new safety measures and providing a safe working environment for our crew and our customers. In the times when I have commuted into London it has been eerily quiet (although nice to get a guaranteed seat on the train!). I long like many of us for the economy to re-open and crowds to return. That will inevitably though lead to crime increasing. Crime and ASB [anti-social behaviour] has been at a record low, but as retailers, restaurants and businesses come back to life they will have to deal with the challenge of crime also returning. The restrictions have led to boredom and a loss of freedom for many. As the repeated lockdown persisted over several months, frustration stemming from this grew and, in some cases, developed into frustration and ASB. As public venues open again, people may get more angry than usual with people who are not adhering to any of the restrictions. We have seen this over the last year with people in shops, supermarkets and on public transport having different responses to people not wearing masks or social distancing. Some is driven out of fear and some is genuine concern where people’s emotions take over. Once pubs and restaurants open and alcohol is consumed it could lead to people’s behaviour becoming more severe and an increase in anti-social behaviour.

Cyber evolved

However, one crime type that has evolved over the pandemic is online fraud and cyber. Katy Worobec, MD of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “Criminals have ruthlessly adapted to this pandemic with scams exploiting the rise in people working from home and spending time online. These range from investment scams promoted on social media and search engines to the use of phishing emails and fake websites to harvest people’s data. The banking industry is working hard to protect customers from this threat, with almost £7 in £10 of fraud prevented in the first half of this year. But we need the public to remain vigilant against scams and remember that criminals are experts at exploiting events like covid-19 to impersonate trusted organisations. Always take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information, and don’t let a criminal rush or panic you into making a decision that you’ll later come to regret.”

Bounce back spirit

Many companies will have a blended approach to the return to the office with more people either working from home full time or more often. CISOs had to respond to the pandemic by quickly instituting measures to maintain business continuity and protect against new cyber threats. They will have to continue to adapt to ensure that their business is sufficiently protected. Although I am not an economist, I do share the view of the Bank of England that the economy may recover more quickly then first predicted. The lack of international travel will potentially hold this back but there is plenty of domestic spending to be made and I am confident that the British people will have that bounce back spirit and make this country and its businesses thrive again.


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