With pandemic pressures and changing roles, workforce and hiring challenges, and an ever-evolving threat landscape, enterprise security is expected to react, adapt and secure. We spoke with Security magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board recently to narrow down the issues facing security leaders today and identify what they are seeing as critical issues in the industry right now. 

On Return-to-Work

Karl Perman Head ShotImage courtesy of Perman

Karl Perman, Management Consultant specializing in risk management, cyber and physical security and regulatory compliance across critical infrastructures: There are several security-related issues with return to work. Traditional employee malfeasance and human resource issues have really bled into security since the beginning of the pandemic and as people return to physical office locations. 

With people returning to the office, we are seeing more remote workers and also a hybrid model, a few days into the office, a few days out…With that, we are seeing less dedicated space so multiple people are assigned to one area depending upon the time you come into the office. Because of those differences, we are seeing new security risks such as an increase in theft and an increase in confrontations that have led to violence in the workplace surrounding vaccine requirements, health questions, COVID-19 or mask requirements. It really centers around people getting along or not.

On Security Proving Value During the Pandemic

 Image courtesy of Raad

Kristine Raad, Vice President, Security and Safety, Four Seasons: For one, more virtual working from home has led to an expedited advancement of convergence of physical and IT security programs as people straddle the line between both of those program elements. 

I also see that migration to more virtual work versus in-person work environments leaves traditional physical security teams struggling a bit to prioritize initiatives and show return on investment in things they’ve engaged in the past like installing gates, turnstiles, intrusion detection, active shooter programs. These all still have value, but you have to demonstrate to leadership why it’s still important to invest in these things when there may be less people in the workplace in some cases. How does it have a return on investment? That brings up challenges.

On Burnout and Dissociation

Image courtesy of Provence

Kirsten Provence, L.C.B., Senior Manager, Supply Chain Security & Organizational Executive Strategy & Business Operations for The Boeing Company’s Security & Fire Protection (S&FP): I think a lot of situations companies are facing today such as remote work can sometimes lead to a lack of engagement with other team members. When that happens, employees may dissociate from the brand and company and if they do that, they are more apt to leave. So, there is a struggle to keep that engagement amongst the team present and front of mind as, oftentimes, it takes a secondary role to other, more pressing general business needs. It’s very clearly a critical factor to retention.

On the Stressors of Today

Image courtesy of Antoine
Steven Antoine, Vice President, Global Security, PepsiCo:
The combination of crisis today has led to all of the robust conversation here and we can’t omit the obvious supply chain and labor challenges that just about every industry in every sector is facing whether that’s internal control or lack thereof.

Also, these times are forcing a faster evolution of our roles. Our ability as security and risk and resilience professionals to innovate are key to success as we take a look at what’s going on right now in the world today: As people, we are more disrupted; as business we tend to be more profit focused; we are more connected and more social media affected; we are more data driven; we are more siloed; we are more exposed, more violent, more litigious, more selective sometimes from a morality standpoint and more polarized. This leaves us to be less traditional, less likely to become involved in some cases, less interpersonal, less incentivized, less adjusted, less positioned, less courageous, and sometimes less invested. And all of that is hard, so top-of-mind issues start to blur together and that is what is creating angst in all kinds of ways and is manifesting everywhere.

On Misinformation 

Image courtesy of Alexander

Dean C. Alexander, J.D., LL.M., Director, Homeland Security Research Program and Professor, Homeland Security at the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration, Western Illinois University: Another top of mind issue is misinformation, disinformation conspiracy and imperfect information that exists, particularly surrounding COVID. It’s an interesting thought that perhaps COVID has changed people’s perception of risk. There were risks around all the time before, of course, but this has changed the world’s position. I wonder if what is needed right now is a more centrist approach in this area?

On Mental Health and Schools

Image courtesy of Grace

Guy M. Grace, Chairman of the Advisory Committee for Partner Alliance for Safer Schools: None of the other hazards prior to COVID-19 have disappeared and security leaders and schools still have to mitigate mental health issues, active shooters, weather emergencies, security technology and access systems. Right now, this is one of the most challenging times for security in all sectors, but mental health is something that really needs to be talked about more. We are talking about all these things: manpower, new policies and procedures and so much more that we didn’t have to talk much about before. But these potential risks of mental health, turnover, and the stressors on staff are huge. The long-term repercussions here will continue.

This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine. Subscribe here.