Security guards are found in just about every commercial space, from offices to shopping malls to parking garages. Although they play the same role on paper, each setting requires different protocols and equipment.
These tips will help employers properly equip their security teams for an office environment.
1. Start With a Risk Assessment
To have a well-equipped security team, employers must perform a risk assessment and identify the office’s greatest threats. What dangers do employees face daily? Here are some common threats they should be aware of:
- Natural disasters
- Fire outbreaks
- Verbal or physical harassment
- Theft or vandalism of personal property
Although statistically unlikely, every office is also vulnerable to an active shooter situation. A disgruntled employee, abusive spouse or another unsavory character could violently lash out. Shooters tend to target schools, workplaces and stores they have some connection with.
The information obtained from the risk assessment will tell the employer what resources security guards must have. Equipping the team will be much simpler after that.
2. Ask Behavioral Questions During Interviews
The recruiting department must include behavioral questions during the security team’s interview process. Credentials are straightforward, and it’s easy to tell who has the right qualifications. If they have a lengthy background in law enforcement, it’s safe to assume they can handle themselves in an emergency.
However, since offices are safer than most other places, the security team’s temperament is more important. They must know how to diffuse arguments or lead employees to safety during an emergency evacuation. Guarding an office isn’t the same as working a concert or sporting event. More people skills and emotional sensitivity are required.
3. Assist the Guards With Security Devices
Security personnel can’t be everywhere at once. Employers should help them by installing cameras, floodlights, motion sensors and other devices around the building. The outdated CCTV camera in the lobby isn’t enough. Every room should have some tool that helps the team’s surveillance.
Automated entry panels with numerical codes or access cards are the most important devices to install. They will help the security guards track who enters each room and allow them to block off certain areas with the push of a button. Only employees with special credentials can get inside, making the security team’s job much easier.
4. Get the Necessary Certifications
If an employer deems it necessary to equip the security guards with firearms, they must get full permission. Armed guards must undergo additional training through their state’s department of justice. Former police officers, military personnel and private investigators are the only people exempt from this rule.
Employers must also research their state’s laws about open carry and other workplace gun laws. Even if the guards are eligible to carry, they can only use certain caliber pistols and aren’t allowed to use their own weapons. Consider all these factors before deciding whether to allow the security team to have firearms.
5. Equip Them With Safety Gear
Safety gear is a must-have whether or not the security team has guns. They need handcuffs, a flashlight and a blunt-force weapon — usually a baton. They also need at least Level IV body armor with plate, which is the standard for military and security personnel. These vests consist of hard ballistic plates and must pass armor-piercing bullet testing before earning Level IV status.
Body armor won’t make the security guards invincible. It will stop a bullet and absorb most of the impact, but the wearer can still suffer minor injuries such as bruising and broken ribs. The vests are also bulky and difficult to hide, so stealth isn’t an option. Employers should encourage guards to wear their own vests if they have them.
6. Provide First-Aid Equipment
Every workplace is required to have CPR and first-aid kits in case of an emergency, so this step shouldn’t be an issue. However, employers must also ensure the security guards can perform CPR and first aid. Once every position is filled, consider bringing in a certified instructor to refresh staff on the fundamentals.
Put the first-aid kits in strategic locations around the building, including the lobby, conference rooms and other communal spaces. One should always be within a security guard’s walking distance if a health emergency occurs. Every second counts.
7. Keep the Security Guards Active
Security teams spend most of their time sitting at desks and looking at camera footage. The guards who are lucky enough to patrol the building get some physical activity, but not enough for someone responsible for protecting other employees. Office managers must keep their security guards active and let them get away from the desks for a while.
If the building has a fitness center, encourage the guards to use it. Upgrade the lobby’s desk and chair so they can sit more comfortably and maintain their mobility. Anything that keeps the security guards in good shape is a worthwhile investment.
8. Familiarize Them With the Floor Plan
One of the most important parts of a security team’s job is memorizing the building. They need to know the office’s floor plan, entrances, exits, stairways and room numbers. They won’t have to think about where to go during an emergency. Their immediate reactions could save lives, so employers must emphasize this part of their security guards’ training.
Security guards should also be among the first people to know when the office undergoes design changes or renovations, especially if a new room or entrance is added. They must understand all the building’s vulnerabilities and clearly know the floor plan.
9. Practice Emergency Drills
Maintaining a security team’s sense of urgency in a quiet environment like the average office can be difficult. Random emergency drills are essential for keeping the guards on their toes and ensuring they stay on task. Fire, active shooter and other simulated scenarios are all fair game. Practice makes perfect and keeps your team on its toes, ready for any scenario.
Set up Your Security Team for Success
Offices aren’t the most dangerous places in the world by a long shot, but anything can happen. Security is essential in every workplace, no matter how unlikely an emergency might be.
Employers can set their security teams up for success by equipping them with the best protective gear, improving their people skills and keeping them active. These simple steps won’t prevent an accident, but they will ensure the workplace is prepared.