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Many of us have watched films set in New York, where well-heeled characters live in Madison or Park Avenue apartment buildings managed by a highly engaged concierge security team that always greets them by name and occasionally steps in to help solve whatever narrative challenge they may be facing. It’s the stuff of fantasy—mainly because very few of us will ever be able to afford the luxury rent or prices that it takes to live in one of these elite buildings home to the ultra-wealthy.

But the point is that part of the resident experience is having that kind of high-touch concierge service on offer, at all times, delivering personalized service. To some, it’s just as important as the design of their living quarters or the number of parking spaces they have to store their collection of vehicles. Not every condominium property manager can deliver quite that level of service, of course, but they can create a unique environment for their residents.

An engaged, respectful and proactive security concierge team is critical to ensuring the protection of a property and the people living in it—and that should always be their primary responsibility. The COVID-19 crisis, with its numerous and varied building-access and health and safety restrictions, underscored the value of having well-trained and responsible security professionals at the ready. But in going above and beyond while doing their jobs, security concierge personnel can also provide added value to a residential community.

Even more crucial is a concierge team’s ability to communicate effectively with residents.

They can help improve tenant/owner attraction and retention. They can indirectly help drive up property values. They can make a building or complex a far more desirable community in which to live, which is the goal of any property management firm or of condo owners who are always eager to see a spike in unit valuations or monthly rents.

So, what does it take to build a highly engaged condominium security concierge team? These are five of the key ingredients:

Effective recruitment

Choosing the right security firm is important for many reasons, but none more so than their approach to employee recruitment, onboarding, and retention. Put simply, the service a security firm provides is only as good as the people who are providing it. Every security firm can deploy guards at a high-rise property, but the better ones put time and effort into carefully selecting their security professionals, in particular the ones who comprise security concierge teams. More than anything else, these professionals need to have experience and expertise in customer service— along with a client-focused attitude—to be successful.

Ongoing training

One of the many reasons why guards become disengaged is because they don’t receive adequate training in the onboarding phase. They often don’t have a full grasp of what their job entails or what they’re expected to deliver. Even when they are trained, security firms often rush the process and fail to set their concierge teams up for success. Speak to your security provider, ask questions about how they train their guards—including practical or technical considerations such as fire panel or security system operations and emergency procedures—and how they’ll provide training customized to the needs of your residential community.

Condo concierge security guard helping resident.
We handpick the right condo concierge for your building’s needs.

Strong communication

It’s important for security companies to maintain strong communications internally to ensure their guards are updated on important information relating to the property where they’re stationed. A basic guard huddle at shift changes can help concierge teams share information, which should also be logged in daily reports and conveyed to the security provider’s management team electronically—and, when necessary, the building’s property manager. Even more crucial is a concierge team’s ability to communicate effectively with residents. They are the frontline service providers at any condominium and need to be able to intake, direct or address resident concerns. They also need to be friendly and attentive to deliver the kind of sunny service experience that should be the objective of any reliable security provider.

Performance expectations

It needs to be made clear to security concierge teams that the expectation is for them to create the kind of residential atmosphere that they might want for themselves or their families. That means working with your security provider to customize key performance indicators that can be measured and benchmarked over time. Concierge personnel that meets those lofty expectations should be rewarded with longer-term placements, which is also the ideal scenario for stability-loving residents who tend to appreciate seeing the same security personnel in their building lobbies from day to day.

Management accountability

The only way to enforce these expectations is by requiring full accountability. The best way to do that is to ensure that your security provider’s management team are on the ball, inspecting sites, providing necessary support to their concierge security teams, meeting residents themselves, interacting with the property manager or board and generally building a strong understanding of that specific community and its needs. When gaps emerge, those managers should take action before you even know there’s a problem.

If they work hard to motivate guards, treating them well and readily providing constructive feedback, you can rest assured that your concierge security team will likely stay fully engaged on the job—and your residents will keep smiles on their faces.

IS YOUR BUSINESS INTERESTED IN CONCIERGE SECURITY?

FILL OUT OUR QUOTE FORM AND ENJOY A CONSULTATION WITH US.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Wincon Security

Nearly a year ago, our world changed. Few of us knew much, if anything, about the COVID-19 virus that would soon transform our social interactions, our economy and our lives. But we soon got a crash course in epidemiology and terms such as ‘social distancing’ as the federal and provincial governments acted quickly to lockdown our communities and introduce sweeping health and safety measures. Through it all, Wincon Security guards and supervisors were on the coronavirus pandemic frontlines.

Our employees responded with professionalism, hard work and a dedication to excellence that was beyond exceptional—it was a true embodiment of our focus on providing the very best customer service experience our industry has to offer. To a person, our team exemplified our ‘Built on Service. Driven by Culture’ company mantra. My gratitude goes out to all of our employees for their ongoing support and efforts to continue improving our client experience. But in the midst of a tumultuous year, the work of two of our staff truly stood out.

I’m pleased to introduce our 2020 employees of the year: Supervisor Darrell Chen and security guard Robert Bruce.

You may notice a change from previous years when we acknowledged only one employee. This year we decided that it was important to ensure that a member of our leadership team also got the nod for their outstanding work.

In Darrell’s case, his management of a seven-person security team throughout the pandemic at GE’s Markham facility was nothing short of remarkable. Not that we’d expect anything different. Over his four-year career with Wincon, Darrell’s communication skills, leadership and problem-solving abilities have set the standard for others to follow. COVID may have put Darrell to the test, but he stepped up and responded to every challenge.

Wincon Darrell Chen 1

“Over the past year, we had to find different ways to provide safety and security,” he says. “We had to train additional guards, work with the EHS and occupational safety committees at GE, reinforce masking policies and work to develop methods to efficiently screen employees and delivery people every day. Our team is always great at communication and has a positive attitude, so by being proactive and planning for different workplace situations, we were able to make a tough situation as seamless as possible for our client.”

By keeping up the spirits of his team and showing appreciation for their work, Darrell reminded us all that it’s possible to turn a challenging situation into one for growth and development.

Wincon Robert Bruce 1

Our 2020 Guard of the Year Robert Bruce showed the same willingness to step up and adapt, but in a very different setting over the past year. As a guard at some of Etobicoke’s larger condominium towers, Robert had a front-row seat as the move to remote work took centre stage during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown. Suddenly, thousands of residents were working—and both caring for and teaching their children—from home. Access to everything from building amenities to the neighbourhood grocery store was instantly restricted.

Even as tensions ran high, Robert met residents with his trademark smile and pleasant demeanour and was able to make their day a little bit brighter simply by doing his job well. Efficiency was key.

“At a certain point we had to start screening people for COVID-19 when they entered the building, but due to the volume of residents coming in and out—not to mention parcel or food delivery people and visitors—we needed to process people as quickly as we could,” Robert recalls. “Adjusting to that was a challenge.”

Wincon Robert Bruce 2

That meant going to extraordinary lengths such as conducting temperature checks and even calling residents to pick up food deliveries in the lobby as part of the condo’s coronavirus protocols. Through it all, Robert’s ability to anticipate both the condo property manager and residents’ needs, and to address potential issues before they arose, proved the difference.

On behalf of the entire leadership team here at Wincon, I’d like to congratulate Darrell and Robert for this achievement and thank them for their exemplary work. And while I’ve said it before, it’s worth reiterating that our entire team has gone above and beyond throughout the COVID-19 crisis. If I had to choose a word to sum up my feelings about our performance as a company, it would be: proud.

Proud that we’ve confronted one of the most difficult challenges of our generation and managed to succeed. Proud that we’ve actually improved our service offering in the face of some very big obstacles. And proud that our clients and industry partners were able to rely on us to meet their needs, no matter the circumstances.

As we progress further into 2021, I only have one more thing to add: Let’s keep up the great work together!

IS YOUR BUSINESS INTERESTED IN SECURITY GUARD SERVICES?

FILL OUT OUR QUOTE FORM AND ENJOY A CONSULTATION WITH US.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Wincon Security

The proliferation of condominium properties across the Greater Toronto Area in the past 20 years is truly staggering. Hundreds of thousands of units have been added to Toronto’s housing supply since the 1960s when legislation allowed for this new form of homeownership and communally-minded approach to building upkeep.

Of course, the task of keeping the towering, often expansive communities in the sky operating in good condition is the responsibility of condominium property managers. These unsung heroes are responsible for everything from managing maintenance-related issues—think elevator repairs and snow plowing—to hiring the security firms that guard a property around the clock. But as Armand Conant, the former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute explains in a recent blog for the Remi Network, an acute shortage of trained and qualified condo property managers is raising concerns for many in the residential property industry:

Ontario has more than 11,700 condominium corporations. While a good number are self-managed – most are managed by professional management.

That said, there are currently about 2,500 licensed managers, 1,500 of which are General Licensees, and an estimated 300 of these are in upper management and do not manage specific buildings. This then means that there are only about 1,200 General Licensees for thousands of existing corporations. And with more condos coming on stream at a fast pace – the talent crunch is only intensifying

As Conant notes, the Condominium Management Services Act, which took effect in late 2017, requires condominium property managers and condo security companies to be licensed. That involves taking four mandatory courses and obtaining two years of experience before being designated as a ‘general licensee.’ Managers must also pay an annual fee to maintain their license. The legislation has introduced stricter guidelines and qualification requirements before an individual can take on this important—and often highly complex—role.

He suggests several tactics to ease the shortage, including educating unit owners and the condo industry / condo security companies at large as to the crucial role that managers play in “protecting the building, enhancing the market value of units, and in helping in improving the condominium community.” He also suggests working to boost and maintain higher managerial compensation rates and focusing on recruitment to attract more young people to the industry as retirement rates surge.

Of course, we also can’t forget that experienced property managers with the right expertise are a vital resource in helping to guide a condominium’s board of directors—who are typically resident volunteers with no experience in this area—on best practices to reduce legal liability.

When he mentions ‘protecting the building,’ Conant touches on another key point that many overlooks. Condo property managers and condo security companies are responsible for a building’s security as mentioned above, and it’s in that area that ample experience is crucial. As a starting point, hiring an experienced individual who can juggle the many requirements of effective property management is an essential component for ensuring the safety of a property and its residents. Security personnel are typically the first line of defense in managing everything from emergencies to maintenance issues, so being able to liaise with—and deploy—guards in an effective way is important to delivering an optimal security outcome.

Condo security companies like Wincon will keep your building and tenants safe.

This acute property manager shortage highlights another potential vulnerability in the property-management process: effective security firm recruitment.

Property managers with the right experience and expertise will have the know-how to carefully recruit, vet, and select experienced security companies with the right skill set to best protect their property and assets. That’s especially important when a condo or rental building’s population requires security staff with the right touch to provide effective customer service—think buildings that cater to seniors, as one example.

It’s even more essential when we consider that not all security firms are created equal. While many will have staff with experience patrolling low-rise properties, for instance, they may not have professionals with the expertise to manage the needs of one of Toronto’s many new ultra-high-rise condos. As we’ve noted in previous blogs, these soaring communities in the sky come with a unique set of challenges, from emergency evacuation procedures to far more complex maintenance and customer-relations requirements. The concierge service component across these properties is often as important as traditional guard services, particularly in buildings that cater to well-heeled, discerning residents. Choosing the right condo security company can have a direct impact on livability and even occupancy rates. The same holds true for commercial properties, where effective management can make or break a property owner’s reputation and a portfolio’s bottom-line performance.

Lastly, increased turnover in the property manager ranks—a common occurrence when professionals are in short supply and both stress and demand prompt individuals to frequently change employers—will only further complicate matters for residents and property owners going forward.

That’s why it’s important to take the property manager shortage seriously and take immediate steps to address the issue. Doing so will deliver long-term benefits across the commercial and residential property industry, ensuring the safety of buildings and residents alike.

IS YOUR BUSINESS INTERESTED IN RETAIL LOSS PREVENTION SERVICES?

FILL OUT OUR QUOTE FORM TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR RETAIL SECURITY OPTIONS.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Wincon Security

Are we living in the most secure era ever? That depends on your definition of the word and the context, but there’s no doubt that today’s unique security surveillance technology has made many of our public and private spaces far safer than in the past. From ultra HD cameras with facial recognition technology to ultra-secure biometrics, the tools that organizations have at their disposal to prevent or respond to unwelcome or emergency incidents are truly unprecedented. So much so that privacy concerns are now running up against security innovations, fueling legal and social tensions along the way.

Case in point: there is a fast-growing movement across Canada to limit the use of some advanced tools, specifically unique security surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition software. Last month the Canadian Civil Liberties Association issued a call for a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology in a wide range of settings. While stakeholders from law enforcement officials to business and commercial property owners would make an argument for the tech’s utility, social advocates counter that the privacy trade-off is far too great at this point. Better to stall a widespread rollout until a proper legal and regulatory framework can be built to control its use.

That comes on the heels of a new Ernst and Young report indicating that COVID-19 seems to have changed Canadians’ expectations of data privacy. Fully 63 percent of survey respondents said knowing how their data was collected and stored was of prime importance, along with control over what data is being shared (57 percent), their trust in the organization sharing their data (51 percent), and knowing how their data is managed, shared and used (45 percent).

“The pandemic has ushered in significant changes that may have altered consumers’ attitudes towards data privacy, but they are unwavering about the importance of security.”

Ernst & Young

Security vs. privacy

In residential settings, those expectations are reaching new heights. Rental tenants and condominium owners alike are growing increasingly concerned that their movements are being monitored on a daily basis. In some cases, they are. Unique security surveillance systems have long kept track of the movement of people and packages across residential environments, but new technology has delivered exponential enhancements in monitoring capabilities. In the vast majority of cases, however, their deployment is intended strictly to deter crime or inappropriate behaviour. The reality is that most commercial and residential property management firms–who are dealing with a raft of new challenges related to COVID-19–lack the staff (let alone the desire) to leverage that data in ways that would be of any reasonable concern to residents.

It’s simply available as a tool to review traffic flow in case of an incident or to piece together timelines in the event of an accident. Reviewing an incident using surveillance footage is usually a key tool in preventing a similar occurrence from happening in the future. The real question that residential stakeholders need to answer is whether privacy trumps protection in residential settings.

Exterior Home Security Camera surveillance technology integration
Contact us to discuss your privacy protocols, cybersecurity and data privacy.

With license-plate recognizing cameras collecting data in parking lots and garages, and biometrics recording even more sensitive information every time residents enter a building, do new technologies cross an ethical—and even legal—line? Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, some residential communities in Canada have gone as far as to implement contact tracing and temperature monitoring (sometimes using high-tech cameras) to protect their residents and mitigate the risk of an outbreak on their premises.

The urgent circumstances of the emergency aside, will we eventually regard these health and safety measures as a step too far?

Balancing privacy and protection 

The obvious solution involves implementing an effective security strategy that balances the right to privacy with the need for protection. That means customizing tactics to suit the needs of the residential community in question, be it housed in an ultra-tall downtown tower or a densely packed rental building. Property managers are best advised to develop a series of privacy protocols that outline how personal data will be collected, stored, managed, and eventually expunged. Access to that data must be tightly controlled. And that not only means limiting the personnel who can review it, but determining how it will be stored (e.g., on a local server or in the cloud). What cybersecurity tools will be used to mitigate the risk of a breach?

The best way to ease residents’ concerns over how their data is used is to build trust and remain transparent. By communicating on a regular basis—in some cases perhaps even developing a committee comprised of management and residents that’s tasked with setting guidelines to handle that data—reviewing and revising policies as needed and then erasing that data at predetermined intervals, most residents will be comfortable with having their personal details collected and stored.

Work with your security provider or a specialized data-management consultant to start and manage this process. Handling sensitive data is best left to the experts. Rest assured, your residents will appreciate the time and attention to detail in managing their personal information.

How is your building managing security technology?

FILL OUT OUR QUOTE FORM AND ENJOY A CONSULTATION WITH US TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR RETAIL SECURITY OPTIONS.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Of the many new business challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has created for organizations, commercial and residential security—specifically across condominium complexes—has been near the top of the list. Property managers and their security teams have been forced to work overtime to develop, implement and maintain new COVID-19 health and safety measures, develop new parcel-management protocols, manage strict building access and usage rules, and generally cope with the uncertainties of new government lockdown and social-distancing restrictions.

Condominium property managers have carried much of this new burden as they deal with a plethora of related issues. They’ve not only had to provide updated training to their in-house or outsourced security teams while investing (often hefty) sums for enhanced cleaning across their properties, they’ve faced budgetary challenges due to increased hydro and HVAC usage and mechanical wear-and-tear with more residents working from home and placing greater demand on systems and resources. Condominium boards have struggled to find a balance that allows them to keep condo fee increases under control, while balancing their books and still delivering the level of service that residents expect.

These unforeseen COVID-19 side effects are weighing heavily on condo managers, but are being managed. It’s another, seemingly benign issue, that’s creating headaches that are sure to get worse in the years ahead: online shopping (particularly over the holidays) that’s producing a flood of parcel deliveries.

Statistics Canada predicted in November that online spending was poised to break last year’s record $305 billion in e-commerce sales. As a recent CTV News article notes:

“A separate online survey of 600 adults from Google Canada in late October suggested that 70% of respondents were looking online, not in-store for holiday gifts.”

Many of those packages are ending up in condominium lobbies—and many condos are ill- or completely unequipped to cope with this influx of items. It’s not an overstatement to say that in some buildings, lobbies are turning into de facto mini-warehouses due to the sheer volume of packages being delivered. Some property managers are grappling with whether (or how) to disinfect items that enter their premises due to potential coronavirus transmission risks.

Merely accepting and storing the parcels is challenging enough, but who catalogues them? How are they secured to ensure they aren’t stolen by a resident or thief who manages to access the lobby? How are they released or distributed to residents? Is that the job of your security team? These are just a few of the pressing questions weighing on condo managers right now.

As the COVID-19 crisis carries on and retail restrictions remain in place, Canadians are going to continue that great e-retail migration. In other words, the problem won’t simply disappear as the coronavirus eventually subsides. Property managers will need to adapt further as online shopping gains added momentum in the years ahead.

That could mean making capital investments in dedicated parcel storage rooms or lobby lockers, if those spaces or amenities don’t already exist. When many buildings were constructed, there was no thought put to online shopping—e-commerce was the stuff of science fiction only a few decades ago, after all. That could necessitate collaboration between managers and their condo boards to allocate the necessary funds to build out secure storage spaces that can be locked and monitored. Another alternative that many condos have explored is working with companies such as ParcelPort, which provides outdoor (sometimes temperature-controlled) lockers to receive and store parcels. When a delivery is made, a notification goes out via text or email to the resident reminding them to pick up their item.

There are many options, but property managers need to carefully consider several other factors to ensure that this year’s flood of holiday parcels doesn’t create an unnecessary burden for them or their teams:

What level of service will you provide?—Many condominiums, particularly those that offer luxury amenities, will need to determine whether they’ll embrace full white-glove concierge parcel-management service if they haven’t already, or opt for a self-serve parcel pick-up model. For example, will building concierge or security staff deliver packages to a resident’s door? Or simply manage packages by minding them at the lobby desk? How does that level of service reflect on the condo’s brand and ability to attract/retain buyers or tenants? An enhanced concierge experience could be a resident-friendly value proposition, albeit a pricey one.

Is your security team up to the task?—Wincon guards are trained with customer service—and the finer points of delivering a true concierge experience—in mind, but not all security firms provide that same level of training. In-house security staff, may not have that expertise either. Assess the situation to determine whether your guards are trained to accept, catalogue, manage and distribute parcels—and if not, be prepared to offer that important training.

What about food?—Parcels are one thing, but with restaurants closed in many areas, an increasing number of residents are using meal delivery services. Residents want their dishes hot and ready to eat without delay. Do you have processes in place to maintain building security, while also ensuring residents receive their meals in a timely fashion, all so their foodie-friendly expectations are met?

Who accepts liability?—The issue of lost or stolen parcels creates significant risk for condominium property managers. They can face costly liability if they accept packages that don’t make it to their rightful buyers. If those happen to be items such as fancy jewellery or expensive electronics, for example, the problem of lost or stolen goods could get very expensive very quickly. This means that, in effect, building security teams will now be required to develop and implement what amounts to loss-prevention strategies, or potentially ask residents to sign waivers that shield property management from liability. Carrying extra liability insurance may also be necessary. Work with your lawyer to design and implement a strategy that’s customized to the needs of the property and its residents.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SECURITY FOR YOUR SITE?

FILL OUT OUR QUOTE FORM AND ENJOY A CONSULTATION WITH US.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

We all talk about the importance of security, but enforcing protocols can be remarkably challenging when our security responsibilities seem to be growing by the day. It can also be stressful at a time when we’re being bombarded with daily headlines about cyber security breaches, commercial property vulnerabilities and the like. Even constant requests to reset email passwords can become daunting.

But for a commercial or residential property owner or manager, paying attention to security is a crucial requirement for ensuring the safety of occupants and residents, as well as protecting valuable assets. Still, we often encounter organizations that have struggled to maintain and enforce security best practices, be it simple measures such as installing effective lighting around a property or even ensuring that doors are closed and locked at the end of a work day when the property is empty.

Why? The unfortunate reality is that for many organizations, taking a proactive approach to security is at the bottom of their list of priorities. They tend to react to security issues rather than developing a strategy to help mitigate risk, satisfy legislative requirements, reduce the threat of legal liability and implement reasonable measures to protect their assets—be it people, property or both—before unwanted situations develop.

Sound familiar? To help you make security a top organizational priority, we’ve put together four simple steps designed to help keep your people and property safe and secure:

Make it easy—One of the greatest challenges with security is that it can be complicated. When in doubt, embrace a philosophy similar to the one that legendary Apple CEO Steve Jobs employed when designing game-changing devices such as the iPhone and iPad: if the instruction or device can’t be followed or used by a four-year-old, it’s probably too onerous for the average person to effectively deploy on a regular basis. Your security protocols and infrastructure should be designed to suit the unique characteristics of your workplace or commercial property, and should be so simple that they become virtually reflexive for key stakeholders to use or follow.

Make it fun—Many organizations have turned to strategies such as gamification to gain security buy-in from their staff. That means setting up systems where employees or residents—in the case of a property such as a condominium—are rewarded for following established protocols. Sometimes that can involve a more elaborate points-based system. The stakeholders in question can gain points which they can then redeem for something of value—a half-day off work, for example. While gamification can be highly effective, it can also require significant work, especially in the set-up phase. A simpler approach might be offering monthly recognition and even rewards to those who have best adhered to security policies and procedures, in the same vein as an employee-of-the-month recognition program. The point is that incentivizing stakeholders does help improve the odds of compliance—which is the core consideration when protecting your property.

Build it into the onboarding process—Whether it’s considerations over digital or physical security, one of the most effective ways to ingrain a sense of vigilance across your organization is to offer new employees orientation training that includes specific reference to their security responsibilities. Those points should also be built into your organization’s workplace policy and procedures manual (which you should have, by the way) and employees should receive regular refresher courses reminding them of those obligations and updating them on any new security measures or technology that you might have introduced in the interim. Of course, your onboarding process should focus not only on physical security—ensuring that the doors are locked at night, for example—but also IT security, which is an increasingly daunting threat for virtually every organization. That includes everything from alerting staff to the potential of phishing or other nefarious cyber scams, to the importance of securing and protecting physical tools such as laptops and USB sticks, which tend to be a prime (and easy) target for cyber criminals.

Hire ample security—So, you’ve managed to get buy-in from staff and they’re actively (and happily) following security procedures. But do you have enough security staff on-site to properly protect your property? This tends to be another major oversight as organizations will often attempt to cut corners and reduce security expenditures to bolster their budgets. Having ample security to patrol a property is a core requirement if you want to keep it safe and secure. Work with a reliable and experienced security firm to determine the number of personnel you need, then develop a comprehensive strategy to highlight and defend potential vulnerabilities.

Winston Stewart, founder

Wincon Security 

A new crop of ultra-tall condominiums—many of them mixed-use incorporating retail, hotel and other elements—are sprouting up across Toronto’s downtown core. As they continue to redefine the city’s skyline, property owners and managers are slowly discovering the many challenges that arise when attempting to maintain these soaring communities.

Buildings such as Aura at Yonge and Gerrard (78 stories), 1 Bloor East (currently under construction and planned for 76 stories) and The One (which could top 80 stories upon completion) are the three most-discussed of Toronto’s new ultra-tall condo towers. If recent history offers any lessons, they will likely cost far more to maintain than more traditionally-sized condominiums.

From HVAC systems maintenance to materials costs to ongoing repairs, condominium residents could face hefty bills in the years ahead. If the recent glass problems that have plagued some Toronto condos continue to recur—including falling glass pains and deteriorating window seals—those bills could be particularly expensive to cover, possibly even resulting in costly special assessments being levied on residents.

But condominium corporations tasked with maintaining these mega high-rise skyscrapers should also keep another key consideration in mind: the heightened security costs that come with living in a tower taller than 50 stories.

In many condos, a corporation will enlist the services of a security firm such as ours and request round-the-clock concierge services. That will often require assigning a single guard to patrol key areas, monitor CCTV cameras and assist residents with tasks such as accepting deliveries in the building’s lobby. In larger buildings the recommendation is typically for two guards to be on duty at any given time—including a patrol guard. While it’s always optimal to have as many security staff on site as possible—the more eyes and ears, the better—this allocation of security resources is usually adequate for a condo building.

But this formula comes into question when dealing with huge towers. There are so many more challenges to manage with a building the size of Aura, for example, that addressing the sheer number of operational issues to secure a building of this size—and housing that many residents—increases virtually exponentially. So, where to begin?

It starts by assessing the building’s potential security vulnerabilities. That means considering everything from weak points where burglars or vandals could enter the property, to identifying key operational considerations that a security team would need to monitor to keep the property safe on an ongoing basis. Once those vulnerabilities are highlighted, any reputable security firm should be able to develop a comprehensive building security strategy that protects residents and helps contain costs related to ongoing building maintenance and protection.

From there, we always recommend assessing risk in four key areas:

Emergency preparedness and evacuation—Evacuating a building with thousands of residents and from dizzying heights is a remarkably complex task. One security guard sitting in a lobby—no matter how experienced and skilled she may be—will not be able to manage the task alone. From that perspective alone, it’s clear that ultra-high-rise properties should have multiple guards on duty at any given time.

Lobby access—Nowadays, condominium residents want security guards who are as focused on their comfort as their security. That means being available to welcome guests, accept packages, in some cases even providing hotel concierge-style services such as restaurant reservation booking. What can’t be forgotten is that a security guard’s primary role is exactly what their job title describes: security. The other duties are operational distractions, albeit ones in high demand. We recommend having multiple guards on duty in a lobby at any given time to ensure safety and security. Remember that with that many residents in a single condo, the number of visitors will be dramatically greater than in a smaller building, thereby increasing the demand on a single guard’s time and attention. For tall, luxury condos, one creative solution to ease the pressure on front-line security staff is to hire a dedicated concierge who only manages the peripheral, time-consuming tasks such as assisting residents with lifestyle-related requests and handling deliveries.

Facility security—Another important reason to adequately staff an ultra-tall condo is the fact that it likely contains multiple shared spaces such as party rooms, fitness facilities, a pool, movie theatre, and more. Every time you add elements such as these to a building, it increases the risk of abuse, damage or other unpleasant issues that security staff need to manage. A single guard will not be able to keep an eye on the front door, ensure that partiers are using the shared facilities appropriately, manage noise complaints, deal with a broken elevator and whatever other matters might arise during their day. Having multiple guards on duty will help ensure that recreational and leisure facilities are kept safe and secure at all times.

General maintenance challenges—That broken elevator that I mentioned in the previous point is only one of the many maintenance-related issues that can occupy the time of a condominium security team. When the building they’re monitoring stands at a height of 60 stories or more, there will inevitably be a more extensive bank of elevators to service, not to mention HVAC, plumbing, a larger garage area and other points around the property where maintenance problems can—and inevitably will—arise. It always makes sense to train security personnel in the basics of operating key equipment such as fire panels, but processes also need to be in place to help them manage maintenance-related emergencies. That’s only possible with adequate staffing to ensure that any on-duty security officer has the ability to inspect and report maintenance issues without delay.

Winston Stewart, founder

Wincon Security

This blog is part of our ongoing Wincon Team blogging initiative, designed to keep our employees up-to-date on company and security-industry news and developments

Ever wondered what makes a great company?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately as we celebrate our 25th year in business. A great deal of our success can be attributed to strategic thinking, great systems and operations management, excellence in service delivery and, of course, all of you—as I mentioned in another article in this newsletter, people are our strength.

I’ve known that for a long time, of course, but reflecting on what our employees mean to Wincon Security prompted me to dig a little deeper. Specifically, what makes our security firm different from the scores of others currently operating across the Greater Toronto Area? Well, we certainly deliver leading-edge commercial property services that, in my view, outmatch those of our competitors.

As an integrated solutions provider, we also leverage technology better than anyone else in the business. Whether we’re analyzing the benefits of drone technology to patrol properties or helping clients select the biometric entry systems to suit their security needs, we’ve successfully evolved our company and adopted a technology-first approach, all while using human expertise and experience to keep our clients’ properties safe and secure. Few other firms have pivoted quite as effectively.

But there’s a competitive advantage that we have at Wincon Security that no other firm has: our employee culture.

For a company like ours, culture is everything. But what, exactly, is an employee culture? It’s probably best described as the attitude or the philosophical approach that helps carry the company forward. It’s compromised of the personality of every employee and incorporates everything from workplace policies to strategic business objectives, to name only a few key components. It’s the DNA of a business.

Wincon employees
Proud of our Toronto Security Guard & Experts

A recent Harvard Business Review article underscored the importance of culture, particularly as it pertains to maintaining strong employee engagement:

… disengagement is costly. In studies by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organization, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects. In organizations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time. Importantly, businesses with highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications.

Our DNA is unique in that it’s not only characterized by some great people, but also incredible dedication and extraordinary entrepreneurialism that runs throughout our organization. I’ve lost count of the number of times that a member of our team has approached me to share thoughts on how we might deliver our services more effectively, to highlight a challenge they’ve encountered or an opportunity we should seize upon to help drive revenue growth. That kind of communication is not only helpful, it’s incredibly important if we’re going to keep working towards building a bigger, better Wincon.

Another aspect of our culture that I find striking is the level of care that we have for each other. I would say that without a single exception, all of the employees that we now have in our organization are not here simply for a pay cheque. They want to make a difference, and they have the backs of their co-workers. That’s an impressive aspect of any culture, and one I’m proud to say is a defining feature of ours.

When we faced a challenge with a rogue operations manager in recent months, our team rallied together. We identified the problem together. We stayed strong during a lengthy investigative process together—and emerged even stronger as a group. Most importantly, we didn’t tolerate behaviour that wasn’t indicative of our cultural values.

That’s right, we share values as an organization. While we all have our own personal opinions and values, our culture is defined by characteristics such as hard work, a determination to help each other succeed and a commitment to doing right by our clients, in every engagement. We treat each other with empathy, respect and compassion. We help each other learn and grow as people and professionals; and we celebrate our successes as a team while learning from any mistakes that might occur along the way.

Not many companies can lay claim to such a strong culture—but we can. Our goal in the coming year is to find ways to strengthen those bonds through training, smart recruitment and sound management. It’s going to be a great year and I’m very proud that all of you are dedicated to helping fuel our success.

Winston Stewart, founder

Wincon Security