Accommodating a Remote Workforce and Adapting Workplace Violence Strategies to Manage Company Risk Tolerances 

In anticipation of GSX, we sat down with presenters of upcoming sessions in order to get a better understanding of the topics at hand. This week we are featuring “Accommodating a Remote Workforce and Adapting Workplace Violence Strategies to Manage Company Risk Tolerances,” presented by Deb Andersen, PSP, Security Administrator, Physical and Cyber Security at MWI Direct, and Robert Achenbach, CSO and Senior Director, Corporate Security and Safety at First National Bank of Omaha. Read on for what they had to say and don’t forget to register for GSX 2023!

Q: How did you become interested in your topic? 

DA: The remote workforce paradigm once thought to be temporary has become the new and permanent norm. We were able to ensure employees had the necessary equipment to work remotely. We adapted procedures to accommodate training, communications and accessing data, but that’s only part of the equation when it comes to managing risk and keeping employees safe.  Over the last year, I’ve had countless conversations with my peers on this topic and they’ve all been wondering, including me – how do we provide support for our employees working remotely whether its workplace violence, securing the network or securing their work area/remote location? 

Q: Tell us about your presentation and why should security professionals have this topic on their radar. 

DA: Employees working from home do not have access to the same physical security protections or practices in place in the pre-pandemic workplace. We are heading into uncharted waters as we learn how to prepare for threats of violence to protect employees working from home or remotely. By understanding some of the challenges employees working from home face like working conditions, threats of violence, work life balance, and securely utilizing company resources like technology, we may learn how to support our remote employees. Through adapting to what’s already in place, having open communication and building trust, we can support employees without being too intrusive, but also provide adequate duty of care and ensuring employees have appropriate support and resources.  

Q: What advice would you give security professionals interested in this topic? 

RA: This topic has continued to evolve since the pandemic. The remote workforce is changing the way businesses operate. It is important for security professionals to evaluate their programs and ensure they have a risk-based strategy in place. Leverage Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM) to help identify key stakeholders to support the security program. There are a variety of resources that ASIS has that can be used to reference and help structure a security risk-based program. Likewise, take advantage of 3rd party risk assessment professionals to help identify the key elements of a robust risk-based strategy. Therefore, my advice is to leverage ESRM to influence senior leadership and organizational collaboration, use ASIS networking and resources and finally partner with 3rd party risk assessment professionals if possible.  

Q: How do you see this issue evolving in the next 2-5 years? 

RA: The new modern flexible workforce paradigm is progressing and altering the way businesses manage. In the next several years there will be numerous opportunities to share lessons learned and best practices. This model shifts more responsibility to the employer beyond the workplace and into the remote workspaces. As this environment changes, so will the risk associated with employee safety. Security practitioners now must think beyond onsite training and develop training curriculums that can reach the remote workforce. This includes developing and enhancing existing policies pertaining to workplace violence. There are great resources available that can provide a hybrid training program to introduce onsite hands-on training and deliver a robust e-learning curriculum to educate all employees regardless of their work location. Best practice is to understand the company’s risk tolerance, enhance existing policies or develop new ones, and develop a robust hybrid workplace violence training program that supports onsite and offsite employees.