Adapting Workplace Violence Strategies to Accommodate a Modern Flexible Workforce

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, “Adapting Workplace Violence Strategies to Accommodate a Modern Flexible Workforce,” presented by Deb Andersen, Security Administrator, Physical and Cyber Security at MWI Direct and Robert D. Achenbach, Ed.D, CMAS, CSO and Director, Corporate Security and Safety for First National Bank of Omaha. Read on for what they had to say and don’t forget to register for GSX 2022!  

Q: How did you become interested in your topic? 

DA: Workplace violence strategies have always been a topic of concern. With the rise in incidents across the U.S., planning, training and response remains an area of focus for security professionals. Since the Covid pandemic, the Modern Flexible Workforce strategies began to change the way companies conduct business. We knew at that point, we needed to review our current training and response plans. We used this as an opportunity to adjust our plans to this new environment in order to maintain a safe and secure workplace.   

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

RA: As businesses embrace the modern flexible workforce, security professionals must reimagine how the workplace violence strategy must adapt to secure assets, data and employees. While many employees are considered, ‘hybrid’, securing the physical property is a challenge when it comes to access control, protective strategies, training and insider risk mitigation.  While most organizations may have had a robust security program in place, many facets of pre-pandemic policies and plans will not transfer over to the current work environment. We will share considerations to think about for identifying and preparing for threats of violence and establishing a proactive approach for securing the new workforce paradigm. Emergency response plans may be challenged due to the volunteered resources that may be working remote in this new climate.   

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

DA: Review your current response and recovery plans and ensure your strategy aligns with your new modern flexible workforce initiatives. It is vital to have top-down support and that all people managers embrace your life safety program. Their proprietorship will be instrumental in successful response to incidents. Conduct assessments, continue drills and exercises to build competency with your security teams and those stakeholders who have a role in your response and recovery plan. Stay flexible. 

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

RA: The modern flexible workplace is a new concept for many businesses. As companies become more aware of threats and risks associated with their business through ongoing assessments, they should consider adaptive development of their business continuity plans. Likewise, security professionals should ensure they adapt response plans to meet those needs. Continuous dialog with key stakeholders is paramount to address the risk landscape in the future. Thus, implementing a good ESRM strategy for a holistic view of risk will aid in those efforts.