The Dos & Don’ts of Lone Working

The massive increase in remote working has meant that many people in the UK have suddenly become lone workers. This, therefore, seems like a good time to review the dos and don’ts of remote working from both an employer and an employee perspective. Here, Heart Security, specialists in professional security services provide their advice on Lone Working.

Do start with a risk assessment

In the context of lone working, a risk assessment basically looks at who is doing what, where, when and how. It then looks at the potential risks and considers both their severity and their likelihood.

Obviously, the results of the risk assessment are going to vary hugely from industry to industry. For example, for knowledge workers now working remotely, the biggest risks might be psychological for example isolation and the fear of missing out by not being in the office.

Remote work loneliness has unfortunately started to become a thing since the pandemic with many individuals saying they would happily go back to work immediately if they could.

For other workers, however, the risks might be physical. In addition to the security implications of being alone, there is also the risk of being ill or injured and unable to get help. If a job involves driving then there are also the standard risks of the road.

Have appropriate safety guidelines

Once you have identified the risks, you have to work out how to mitigate them. For the “new-remote” workforce, this may mean putting support systems in place to help them feel more integrated into the company as a whole. Alternatively, it may mean giving them a bit of breathing space if they feel that they are being “over-monitored”.

Dealing with physical risks can generally be done in one of two ways. You can either simply tell the worker not to perform a task or go to a certain area when they are alone. Alternatively, you can work out a way for them to perform the task or go into the area safely, albeit potentially with limitations and/or ad hoc support.

Employers must know the whereabouts of employees at all times. Ideally, this should be exact, if not; it should be a very close approximation. All lone workers should have access to some kind of alarm system. Depending on the nature of the work, this could be anything from a whistle, to a phone (or app) to a monitored personal alarm.

Have robust systems to monitor lone workers

Although thousands of driving jobs have been created during the pandemic, we shouldn’t forget that this particular job role can sometimes be an isolated one and with current restrictions of social distancing, less small talk and no close contact, it can make these types of careers even more lonely.

Employers should not rely on users actively being able to alert them to the fact that they need help. They should also be monitoring their staff to confirm that all is well (or not). Ideally, these systems should be automated by default with a manual system as a back-up. It’s very risky to rely on manual systems as these are prone to human error.

If you have employees who are driving for work, then ideally you should monitor both the vehicle and the employee themselves. Firstly, this will let you know whether or not the employee is in the vehicle at any given time and this could be vital information in the event of an incident. Secondly, the two systems will act as back-ups for each other.

As a bonus, monitoring the vehicle itself may be extremely useful if it gets stolen while parked. It may result in the police being able to recover it for you.