How to Remain Safely Operational During COVID-19
For CUs that remained open or recently reopened, now is the time to assess the effectiveness of your safety strategy.
By Steve Ryker | June 12, 2020
States have begun to reopen the economy and many financial institutions are seeing increases in customer/member traffic in their branches. For financial institutions that remained open or those that recently reopened, now is the time to assess the effectiveness of your safety strategy. Financial institutions can expect to need this safety strategy for at least the next 24 months. According to experts, COVID-19 is a risk until antibodies are present from a vaccine or recovery from the virus. An approved vaccine is still 12 to 18 months away and the millions of doses needed just for the U.S. will extend the time frame even further.
For branch locations, software programs aid the development of optimal social distancing design for employees and customers/members. Other components of the social distancing design include the following:
- Adhesive directional and queue line markers on the floor at 6-foot intervals provide a clear path for members to safely follow as they wait for an available teller, meeting location or to the exit.
- It is recommended to determine the maximum number of employees and members the branch can safely accommodate.
- Have a plan to secure the branch once the number of employees and members is reached.
- Consider developing an exterior queue line with social distancing markers for those members waiting to enter the branch.
Video system analytics can enhance the monitoring of social distancing. The following are some of key features:
- The analytics software provides a virtual 6-foot “halo” around each person inside the branch. A person with a green 6-foot “halo” indicates appropriate distancing and a red “halo” indicates 6-foot distancing was not achieved.
- This system can generate reporting for evaluation and reporting on the effectiveness of your social distancing program. Video analytics also provide heat mapping based on employee and customer/member activity inside the branch. Heat mapping allows cleaning services to focus more attention on high-use areas.
Many financial institutions have decreased branch traffic by increasing the usage of remote video lending, drive-up, ATM and ITM equipment. Even customers or members who have avoided digital or remote services in the past have become more comfortable with those services during the COVID-19 crisis. Remote managed services with the ability to remotely monitor, diagnose, fix and patch have been crucial for safety and keeping financial institutions operational.
Other new products designed to increase safety include:
- UV lights installed in cabinets and designed to be a part of the under-counter steel. This allows employees to disinfect drive-up tube carriers and other items. UV light is a proven disinfectant for viruses and bacteria.
- UV lights installed inside ATMs, ITMs, and cash recyclers that disinfect cash while the cash is being dispensed from the machines.
- Clear “germ guards” installed at each operational branch workstation and teller window to protect members and employees.
- Executive readiness tests that provide the C-suite with a tool to measure their organization’s resilience to COVID-19 changes or future crises.
A social distancing design is also recommended for administrative facilities to determine workstation configurations that maximize the number of employees that can be safely accommodated.
Administrative facilities pose different challenges than branches when taking steps to mitigate COVID-19 risks. Here are some examples:
- Due to the significantly higher occupancy in many administrative facilities, some companies are choosing to decrease COVID-19 risk by installing thermal camera fever detection at perimeter entrances. This technology verifies each person who enters has a temperature that is in the normal range.
- Elevators that once accommodated 12 will now safely transport one or two passengers, which could result in lines and delays.
- Social distancing designs for densely populated call centers results in a significant reduction in the number of workstations.
- Conference rooms, break rooms, and auditoriums may go unused or hold a significantly reduced maximum number of occupants.Video system analytics that monitors social distancing inside the administrative facility, alarm functionality for violations, and reporting capabilities assist with monitoring the effectiveness of the social distancing program.
- Video system heat mapping analytics allow janitorial staff to focus deep cleaning efforts on high-touch areas of the facility.
- Perimeter access points protected by access-controlled doors, revolving doors, or optical lanes should have social distancing queue lines to safely manage access and egress traffic.
- The same UV cabinet mentioned for branches is effective for disinfecting temporary visitor, vendor and guest access badges, and keys that are temporarily assigned to vendors.
Utilizing an Executive Readiness Test can also be helpful in assisting financial institution senior leaders to self-assess their institution’s COVID-19 preparedness. The test questions target areas such as technology, equipment, managed services, digital platforms, remote technologies, procedures, and more, all of which are critical to remaining safe and operational during COVID-19 and into the future. The Executive Readiness Test questions are grouped into eight sections with scoring to determine a financial institution’s strengths and potential gaps that may require additional focus. While a test goes into more depth, the following will give you an idea of what is reviewed:
Business Continuity Planning, Pandemic-Specific Planning Procedures:
- Social distancing for branches and administrative facilities
- Response to regional virus rebound events that require employees to again work from home
- UV light cabinets for disinfecting equipment
- Fever-detecting cameras
- Video analytics and heat mapping
- Interactive Teller Machines
- Video banking and lending
Networking and Automation:
- Networking, automation, and integration of alarm, video and access control systems
- ATM, video, access control, and alarm system remote monitoring and repair services
- System patching, firmware updates
- Network device penetration testing
- Virus and malware protection and updates
- Vendor SOC2 Type2 compliance
Equipment Maintenance and Service:
- Effective maintenance to remain operational with up to 400% increased usage
- Mobile banking via user-friendly mobile applications
- Remote account opening and member services
Completing the Executive Readiness Test, identifying strengths, and planning for the improvement of gaps is critical to remaining operational during and after COVID-19. If you are interested in performing an Executive Readiness Test or if time or resources prevent you from completing the test, there are expert consultants available to assist with test completion and analysis of results.
Steve Ryker, CPP is vice president of compliance and risk for the Portland, Ore.-based Cook Security Group and serves on Cook’s Health Advisory Board.