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What we learned from COVID-19: part three

Security professionals across Canada share their pandemic experiences and learning opportunities


December 11, 2020
By SP&T Staff
PHOTO: Adobe Stock

It goes without saying that this has been a challenging and in many ways exhausting year.

Everyone, regardless of their profession, title, company or industry, has had to adapt to new circumstances and in many cases learn new skills.

SP&T News reached out to security service providers, vendors, integrators and monitoring professionals and asked them to provide some insight into what they have learned during the pandemic.

We asked them to tell us how they have adapted to meet their employees’ and clients’ needs and this is what they shared with us.

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Kim Caron, director of business development, Armstrong’s National Alarm Monitoring

It seems like yesterday we were on a work trip when COVID started to heat up. We were heading home on Friday, March 13, when our world at Armstrong’s changed during a routine flight home. The following 24-48 hours proved to be the start of the new norm and as things unraveled we were in full reaction mode with all staff hands on deck. Over the next few days, we were able to deploy staff home with laptops, phones, headsets, monitors and a complete plan in place.

Were we always planning for this day? We didn’t think we were, however, all the years of preparation with our network and telecommunications infrastructure planning ensured we have the best technology. Our plan was simple: protect our staff while providing a seamless transition to our dealers and their clients.

Fast forward seven months, we are now dealing with hiring staff, keeping communication strong internally and externally, learning and accepting the new norm, which changes daily. Few people have gone back to work and remain working from home, which makes monitoring alarms harder. It’s not the same world as before and may not be for a long while. We have an amazing team, and dealers that have been very supportive, and for this we want to thank everyone.

Sam Shalaby, CEO, Feenics

I think what sticks out most is how connected and resilient we really are: as a company, an industry and as a society as a whole. When COVID first hit, it hit hard. Everyone was scrambling, people were scared, and there were many unknowns. Then, fairly quickly, businesses began to better assess the situation. Many companies, like ours, were able to reassemble in a 100 per cent virtual capacity and operate near peak efficiency.

When this started, some customers halted operations. Others moved full speed ahead. We needed to meet people where they were, with-out expectations. Empathizing with the challenges of not only our customers, but our supply chain partners, and employee family proved essential in helping us navigate the pandemic — lessons that will carry forward after normal business returns.

We also learned the role technology can serve in unknown times. The acceleration of cloud adoption for mission critical business systems, as the technology has proven itself this year, is just one example. Additionally, while it’s safe to say that we’re all “Zoomed” out, the pandemic has shown us how newer technologies can amplify positive and safe customer experiences.

David Price, vice-president, communications & corporate development, Camden Door Controls

To me, the pandemic has clearly demonstrated the value of market and product diversification. We are seeing how the companies that have done well during this time are the ones that have been able to pivot easily to a new set of corporate objectives. This includes changing the products we sell, the way that we sell them, and in many cases, who we sell them to.

We have also learned that staff working remotely can be incredibly beneficial to our company. Like a lot of companies, Camden Door moved to remote work due to the need to provide social distance between office workers. We were amazed to learn that it not only accomplished that, but actually improved performance, increased job satisfaction, and allowed us to make more efficient use of office space!

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the skills needed for sales representative success. In the past, success has been built on highly attuned interpersonal relationships. This is extremely difficult to accomplish without in-person contact.

Sales success in a post-pandemic world changes this dynamic. Fundamentally, success moving forward will be based (at least in equal parts) on an ability to provide knowledge leadership, and the ability to communicate that knowledge utilizing video, webinars and other internet-based communication technologies.

Steve Danelon, regional vice-president – Canada, Allied Universal

Allied Universal continues to receive questions from clients surrounding return to workplace safety plans. We are currently offering our clients guidance and tools in order to alleviate any confusion regarding provincial or local regulations. This guidance includes risk mitigation planning and resources, best practices on workplace signage, employee/visitor traffic flow and how to maintain a clean and disinfected workplace as well as temperature pre-screening services for occupants entering the property that is tailored to the facility.

During the onset of the pandemic, we received a vast amount of questions surrounding “How can we make sure that our employees/customers will adhere to provincial or local guidelines we are implementing at our facility?” We realized that our client’s employees/visitors need to feel safe and see that all the required safety protocols have been implemented. This is why we decided to offer our CARE Ambassador program for our clients.

In addition, Allied Universal is constantly looking to hire security professionals and staff across the country. This has been challenging due to the fact that we are hiring during a time of high unemployment coupled with people’s fears about contracting the virus. We knew we had to think and act fast — to explore new ways to hire in this challenging new environment. We decided to launched virtual job fairs across the country. We also leveraged our highly advanced technology to schedule, interview and on-board candidates/new hires remotely.