The New Normal for Security Monitoring, Support and Staffing

Although the security and safety industry maintains focus on redundancy and business continuity, it appears that most were not prepared for something like COVID-19.

The New Normal for Security Monitoring, Support and Staffing

Editor’s Note: This article, which originally appeared in CS sister publication Security Sales & Integration, not only applies to central station monitoring centers, but also to campuses that utilize the services of these centers, as well as campuses that have been forced to set up remote emergency operations centers.

Last year I composed a few articles on leveraging the cloud and integrating hosted telephone solutions for dealers as well as central station monitoring centers. Fortunately, many have already adopted and we are seeing security operations of all types either migrating their entire operations to a hosted solution or initiating a hybrid solution of premise based along with hosted telephony.

Some of the bigger operations will and have included a hosted call center solution that provides the utmost in functionality, reporting and analytics.

I say “fortunately” for two reasons — one because the companies that have adopted these solutions are enjoying greater efficiency and effectiveness than they have had before with their premise-based PBX.

I also state “fortunately” for the very unfortunate reason of the immediate need for a remote workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the security and safety industry maintains focus on redundancy and business continuity, it appears that most were not prepared for something like COVID-19. Companies are now thinking much more seriously about redundancy as it relates to staff-based business continuity.

The migration is much less challenging for dealers and non-central station monitoring companies that don’t have the added complexity of other integrated technologies with premise-based dependencies.

The advantages of a hosted solution are actually very straightforward where during a disastrous period a company can maintain remote workers seamlessly just as a perfectly sunny day. Technology and ingenuity allow us to address and resolve the more challenging structures and design seamless business continuity for the central station monitoring companies.

The rise of the COVID-19 crisis meant that many experienced first-hand, just how unprepared they were for life outside of the office. Many organizations have been making a gradual shift into the cloud — this new landscape has proven that everyone must move a lot faster.

Although COVID-19 forced many businesses to send their staff home to help reduce the spread of infection, most could not accomplish this while still servicing their security and life-safety clients.

Although many premise-based businesses were able to continue their work with the help of VPN services and cloud-based tools, most monitoring centers couldn’t take the same approach and were forced to do their best to distance their staff, monitor body temperature, accelerate cleaning and recleaning, etc. To this day, this is the new normal for many.

Newfound Respect for Remote Workforce

Many factors are now encouraging businesses to implement remote working policies today, that were dead set against this structure prior to the COVID-19 challenge. More important than the research that’s been consistently reported over the years, organizations now have solid results confirming that remote workers report significantly less stress when working remotely, as well as higher productivity levels.

Additionally, company leaders when implementing a thoughtful structure and policies, can cut the costs of managing their workforce significantly with remote workers.

Another huge factor is that giving employees more freedom in where they work, businesses are reducing work-related burdens faced daily such as long commuting times. Other studies have indicated that working from home elevates team satisfaction levels while reducing attrition.

The advantages of operating a company with a remote workforce traverse smooth and normal times along with times of trouble and challenges.

Maintaining the ability to operate a company that supports a remote work force will offer incredible value to security organizations from a one-person dealer to a mega central station monitoring center with hundreds to thousands of employees.

Whether you’re a small company that’s just trying to keep the lights on, or a large enterprise trying to keep a global workforce connected, your remote environment will keep things moving smoothly. Most important and equivalently, to maintain the proper technology services organizations must ensure that they have a strategy for building, supporting, managing and executing their business continuity plan around their remote working first.

Structuring a monitoring center must be well planned to consider all aspects of operating a business that supports remote staffing. It’s essential to maintain the right culture that is capable of carrying out the company policy, procedures and beliefs.

Consistent trust between the business leaders, management, supervisors and your team members are the nucleus of a successful structure. Expectations need to be laid out to help staff understand what kind of goals they should be working towards.

When contemplating the adoption of a Cloud-hosted telephone structure for your company, it’s important to consider the various elements of a Cloud solution that not only offers value during rough times, but brings great advantages during business as usual times for all management, staff  and customers while providing everyone with peace of mind as well.

Proliferation of Leveraging a Remote Workforce

Because not all companies operate in the same manner, plans to incorporate remote workers are not all the same. The remote working landscape is a combination of the right planning and the right vendor partner.

Having the right strategy in place to pivot to a new environment in the cloud will ensure your employees feel comfortable making transitioning to the solution and especially when it becomes necessary to execute your disaster recovery and continuity plan.

The right call center as a service (CCaaS) vendor will ensure you maintain the security and productivity of your traditional platform while leveraging the Cloud for the introduction of new opportunities.

As someone that works in the monitoring, security and telecom space every day, I know it can get confusing with so many players in the space offering CCaaS and/or unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solutions.

These providers and carriers have published countless white papers and business cases on how hosted solutions provide incredible value and most important a strong return on investment. Companies include Verizon Business, NICE inContact, AvayaCloud and RingCentral to mention a few of the many creditable providers.

Most of these providers have really stepped up during this COVID-19 pandemic by setting up new systems in 48 hours without a commitment so they could be part of the solution of getting people back to work.

Peter Giacalone is president of Giacalone Associates, an independent security consulting firm.

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