How to Manage Lone Worker Safety in a Dynamic World
Employees who are out of sight cannot be out of mind
In today’s world, global organizations face immense pressure to ensure their business is constantly evolving to meet the changing nature of the world. Business growth is driven by dynamic interactions – employees are increasingly mobile, on the road and working remotely to support their objectives.
While the good news is that mobile technology has supported this evolution, enabling real-time business opportunities on a global scale, it has also complicated the ability of these same organizations to stay resilient to the many risk factors that businesses now face. Disruptive safety and operational events are occurring in greater magnitude and frequency – from active shooter incidents to cyberattacks and supply chain disruptions, to name a few.
In fact, there are telling statistics to back this up. Twenty-one states in the United States saw active shooter incidents in the two-year period from 2016 to 2017, ten more than in the previous two-year period, according to a new FBI report. The Economist recently noted the number of weather-related disasters worldwide has more than quadrupled to around 400 a year since 1970.
For security leaders, particularly Chief Security Officers, these unpredictable and increasingly frequent incidents and emergencies present an ongoing challenge, but also an opportunity to help bridge the gap between business optimization and business resiliency.
Let’s examine one business opportunity and security challenge in particular – the concept of the “lone worker.”
Lone workers are defined by The Health and Safety Executive as individuals who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, and are often exposed to, and more vulnerable to, risks that many office-based workers may not experience. Examples of these types of jobs include security staff, maintenance and healthcare workers, utility professionals and more, but some organizations broaden this definition to include remote, home-based workers and employees who work alone, separately from others or outside normal work hours. There are 53 million lone workers across Europe, America and Canada, accounting for around 15 percent of the overall workforce, according to Berg Insight. With advances in technology continuing to facilitate and improve mobile and remote working capabilities, this is a trend that we can expect to grow.
Security leaders should develop communication, safety and risk management strategies that not only protect these types of employees, but also nurture their unique ability to conduct business and support growth.
Lone workers should be equipped with location-aware mobile applications that facilitate two-way communications directly with safety operators in the event or anticipation of a wide range of scenarios. Some mobile applications even allow these workers to set “safe corridors” that report location information back to a centralized security team – if the worker moves outside the corridor, it will automatically trigger a notification that requests confirmation of their safety.
Likewise, it’s important for employers to utilize location-aware technology to quickly find and communicate with their lone workers at all times, regardless of where they are in the world.
Employee location information can come from a variety of sources, including travel management software, building access control systems and office hoteling solutions.
Lone worker safety is just one component of an organization’s duty of care that should be recognized, embraced and redefined. The onus falls beyond facility and operations managers and into the hands of business-minded security leaders who should have the keen sense of how to develop policies, communicate with workers and leverage technology to promote a safe and productive remote work environment. Lone workers who feel safer and more connected to their employers are better contributors that are more likely to produce and execute effectively. These workers will also be less likely to look for employment elsewhere when they know their employer is heavily invested in their safety.
Simply put, in today’s threat environment, employees who are out of sight cannot be out of mind. Let’s embrace mobile technology and reinvent enterprise safety at the same time.