The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented, prolonged security, risk management, and business continuity crisis for organizations.
Updated 7 August: The economic downturn has savaged retail businesses, though stores with significant online operations have been able to keep some operations going. That is the case for a U.S.-based clothing retailer with close to 1,000 corporate-run brick-and-mortar locations throughout North America, as well as franchised locations globally.
Updated 28 July: Because this Canada-based global financial institution has major operations in Asia, corporate security was alerted to the coronavirus early on. Business continuity, HR, legal, corporate security, real estate, and executives came together to sort out roles and responsibilities.
Updated 28 July: Many retailers of nonessential goods have been forced to close up shop and concentrate on online sales, and this global retailer is no exception.
Updated 23 July: This technical university in southeast Asia—which has a 75-acre campus and serves about 15,000 students—initially treated the COVID-19 outbreak as an influenza event, activating its business continuity practices and assembling its executive level crisis management team.
Updated 23 July: The pandemic has had a significant impact on all of this NGO's operations around the world. Office and administrative staff now work from home, and travel has been largely shut down, putting connectivity and technology to the test.
Updated 6 July: The COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home orders have ravaged the restaurant industry in the United States, and part of that loss has been borne by food and agriculture companies. As restaurant demand has slackened, this food and agriculture company has pivoted to retail, pumping much more product into supermarkets to match demand.
Updated 2 July: This financial institution focuses on underserved populations—individuals and businesses that would not be able to get loans or credit elsewhere. COVID-19 and the subsequent economic downturn has hit this bank’s clients the hardest.
Updated 29 June: This large Europe-based chemical company, which has facilities all over the world, responded quickly to COVID-19 because 15,000 staff work in China—about 10 percent of their total global workers. The virus triggered immediate emergency action by the company.
Updated 17 June: A Europe-based polymer company with hundreds of facilities around the world has taken a glocal approach when responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Country security managers have established their own crisis management teams, so they could pull information from local plant and site managers.
This is the final installment of the ASIS Foundation pandemic research project. It summarizes findings after following the pandemic response from specific organizations in different sectors around the globe for almost a year, and augments it with a survey of chief security officers and interviews of security leaders to glean lessons learned and opportunities moving forward.
When published in September 2020, very few companies had fully reopened offices. By and large this reflected a combination of a newfound comfort level with the productivity and profitability of remote work and ongoing concerns about the social distancing required to inhibit the spread of COVID-19.
This initial report in the ASIS Foundation's pandemic research documented the security themes that emerged as COVID-19 forced lockdowns and caused economic freefall. All of the practitioners participating in the project emphasized that staff, customer, client, and contractor safety was paramount.