Remote Work Requires Shift in How We Think About Workplace Safety

Remote Work Requires Shift in How We Think About Workplace Safety

According to IDC Research, 72 percent of the U.S. workforce (over 100 million) will be mobile workers by 2020.

As American workers become increasingly portable, companies are turning more attention to the issue of mobile, remote, and traveling worker safety. They’re discovering their security and safety challenges are less abstract and more real as fewer employees are permanent office workers and spend more productive time in the field for days, even months, at a time. They can be down the street, across the nation or, to a growing extent, the far ends of the globe.

Recent research by Everbridge Inc., a global software company that provides enterprise safety applications and services to help keep people safe and businesses running, reveals some interesting results. “Protecting the Modern Mobile Workforce” a survey of executives at large corporations, reveals how they approach their responsibility of informing and protecting their employees regarding a variety of threats: from an active shooter, terrorist attack, workplace violence, or severe weather that can physically threaten a mobile workforce.

A cross-section of corporate decision-makers in the areas of security, risk management, business continuity and emergency management at 412 organizations – many with international footprints – were surveyed in May 2017. Median company size represented by these firms was 1,000-2,500 employees. Some of their answers were quite compelling. And they foretell the increasing employer obligations of keeping distributed workforces safe.

The survey found that 77 percent of employers believe their employees’ desire for safety is eclipsing their long-held concerns over privacy — especially if that safety makes it easier for their location to be identified during a time of employee crisis or potential physical danger. Also, more than 80 percent of employers view the responsibility to locate, share information, and confirm the safety of their mobile employees during critical events as a duty, even though they acknowledge the challenges in doing so.

As employees become more mobile, incidents like the recent terrorist attacks in London, Paris, Barcelona, and other centers of global commerce weigh heavily on corporate executives in their quest to keep workers safe. An overwhelming 75 percent of employers sincerely believe it is more dangerous to travel internationally than it was a scant two years ago.

It is small wonder that organizations are turning greater attention to this issue and establishing practices that will not only protect their workers but lessen the company’s legal exposure for failing in its responsibility.

Personnel Today, a global Human Resources (HR) periodical, published a blueprint in 2016 for companies that send employees to foreign countries, whether on brief working visits or as permanent staff. The article acknowledges that personal safety of company employees is no longer restricted to what were believed to be a few “higher risk” locations a few years ago. Today, threats to employees in foreign lands are real and can happen in even the friendliest of countries.

Because of this, companies increasingly acknowledge their duty to cover pre-departure and on-location training for employees, as well as their family members. Employers are creating crisis-management teams to administer action plans if their mobile employees are threatened with danger. They are setting up preliminary medical insurance coverage and, in some cases, worker evacuation plans.  And for enterprises with business presences in acute-risk areas of the world, they are taking in-country precautions: provisions for armed escorts, enhanced insurance, and security services in remote staff members’ workplaces and homes.

Georgians have the right to a safe workplace, regardless of where they do their job. If you’ve suffered a workplace injury and want to learn more about your legal rights, contact the Mann Law Firm of Macon, Georgia, by filling out our online form or calling us at (478) 742-3381.