Kevin Ward, Managing Director of Ward Security discusses Ward Security’s approach to easing their employees back into the office.

As a service business supplying key workers we have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, supplying our wide range of security services to our valued clients and with many of them at significantly higher levels than pre-Covid. This was achieved with our support and administration teams mostly working from home, something we instigated well ahead of the government’s advice and instruction.  While we now begin to consider bringing people back to our main administration premises at Chatham we need as much reflection and consideration as we did prior to implementing remote working.  We need to recognise that just as moving to remote working caused some of our people to feel apprehensive the need for open discussions around returning to the office environment is of equal importance – we recognise that they too will bring their own kind of anxieties.

At Ward, we began our planning well before official lockdown was announced, we conducted an impact assessment to establish what worked and importantly what would not work remotely, we ran ongoing ‘work from home trials’ to identify any issues for our Chatham team and to establish if our office and structure could cope with being remote.  That was useful on so many levels, just testing the robustness of our IT set up and ironing out kinks that we would not have potentially thought about had we not created test days – I was delighted with just how minimal the issues were.

We took the decision to isolate the team running our National Operation Centre (NOC) by not allowing any non-essential people to enter the centre, we decided this was a safer option than instigating our BCP plan as we could control the environment and safety of our people to our standards.  We put in place some additional training to ensure that if the worst-case scenario arose and our key NOC operators needed to self-isolate, then we had additional people in place trained to provide cover for our clients.

Throughout the lockdown we have had small numbers of people in the office to run the NOC and to accommodate the few people who really could not work from home.  We have also continued to temperature test our employees who are at home, to establish how they feel about it, to check on their mental wellbeing and to ensure they were not struggling being at home.  By employing a colour code mechanism which flags employees who are keen to come back, those who are vulnerable and those who are okay where they are working productively from home we ensure we have a real feel for what is working for our people and our business.

By engaging and listening to our departmental heads we have established those people who want to come in, not necessarily full time but can be eased in a gradual and considered manner, ensuring the impact on personal lives is minimal, certainly those with children or vulnerable family members.

Despite significant investment in equipment we still have some team members who work on desktops rather than laptops, this has hampered our ability to remain flexible and in the future every team member will have the equipment to work remotely and as with many other businesses we will be looking at how we work in the future

As ever, we will learn from what has been an unprecedented situation for us all, we will continue to improve the way we work and most importantly recognise that there is no standard solution and that every business must do what they believe is safe and right for their people.