With the Coronavirus pandemic forcing many employees into lone or remote working roles, the number of people working alone has increased significantly in the last two years. Whilst businesses quickly integrated systems to allow communication, sharing of documentation, and virtual meetings, managing these workers’ safety and mental health should be equally critical.
We look at how some of the many employers who plan to continue this practice can manage their teams’ long-term well-being and safety.
An employers ‘duty of care’ means they must do everything they reasonably can to support employees’ health, safety, and well-being in the workplace, whether this is in an office, on a site, in the community, or even in the home of a remote worker.
This becomes increasingly difficult for a business to manage when considering their team’s mental and physical health when it is widely distributed.
Without the ability to converse directly with a team member, it’s often difficult to assess how well they are coping with their workload, isolation, or their own health. An HSE guide to protecting those working alone lists stress and mental health as a significant consideration for employers and the need to assess whether an employee with a medical condition can safely work alone.
Monitoring employee well-being is essential to identify early stages of issues, such as anxiety or stress, which the demands of lone working may cause.
Helping employees feel safe
Managing a distributed team brings with it the difficulties of keeping your employees safe from harm. While a business should provide all relevant training, lone and remote workers are more vulnerable by their nature.
While it’s essential to ensure an employee’s physical safety, their mental state of mind is equally important. Providing tools to monitor your team’s safety helps them feel important and protected, reducing anxiety about working by themselves.
The benefits of improving employee safety are obvious, but the implications of not doing so are not as often discussed. In their foreword to the Royal College of Nursing guide ‘Personal safety when working alone: guidance for members working in health and social care’, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust points out:
“If an organisation is considering not introducing or updating its safety strategy for their lone workers for financial reasons, it should consider the possible consequences of this” (Suzy Lamplugh Trust, 2016)
They point to the financial and legal costs, as well as the low morale of staff and the increase in turnover and sickness, as the costs associated with a lack of adequate safety provision.
Connecting lone and remote workers
Making these employees feel part of a team is essential in getting the best outcome for both the worker and the business, but making them feel safe is often more complex.
Emails are far too slow, and even phone calls are sometimes impractical in an emergency situation. Employees need a system that they can rely on to keep them safe even if they cannot activate it themselves. Journey tracking, meeting monitoring, fall detection, and automated alerts are all designed to notify the necessary contacts without any input from the user.
The Zecure app offers tools for both the employer and employee to monitor well-being, as well as take action when the situation requires it, helping to keep the entire team safe.
HSE (no date) Lone working: Protect those working alone. Available at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/lone-working/employer/stress-other-factors.htm (Accessed: 2 August 2021)
Royal College of Nursing (2016) Personal safety when working alone: guidance for members working in health and social care, Available at: https://www.rcn.org.uk/-/media/royal-college-of-nursing/documents/publications/2016/september/005716.pdf?la=en (Accessed: 2 August 2021)