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Assistant Editor, IFSEC Insider & SHP

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Rhianna Sexton is IFSEC Insider's Assistant Editor. Rhianna manages and uploads content, carries out interviews with leading figures in the fire and security sector, and reports on the latest news and events from the industry. Rhianna is also Assistant Editor of IFSEC Insider's sister title, SHP.
October 20, 2022

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Whitepaper: Multi-residential access management – The move to digital

Hybrid working

Protecting hybrid workers: How can employers keep their employees safe?

In a recent webinar, IFSEC Global heard from a panel of speakers who discussed safety and security for hybrid workers in a post-Covid world and what employers need to know to keep their employees safe wherever they may be.

The webinar began by asking the audience “what has been the biggest impact of hybrid working on your safety, security and wellbeing?” with the highest vote being for ‘new technology’ at 33%, and the second being ‘new safety procedures’ at 28.4%.

Naz Dossa, CEO of PeopleSafe and member of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA)’s Lone Worker Section Committee stated that “the world of work has changed completely following the pandemic” and now is the time to adapt with the use of technology for security.

Naz shared results from a survey from PeopleSafe, noting how 6.8 million people “think about their safety as they work or while commuting”.

With 58% of employees experiencing a negative event at work or on their commute which made them feel unsafe, and 51% of those surveyed thinking that employers should be responsible for their employees outside of working hours, Naz argued that although it’s not a legal requirement, it is an investment that would make employees feel more valued and cared for.

You can watch the hybrid worker webinar session on demand, here >>

‘Paying people more is not necessarily the solution’

Employers “underestimate” the personal safety concerns of their employees, Naz said, but also “don’t know how” to protect their staff – with 38% admitting this.

He added that the knock-on effects can be seen as feeling unsafe, which means employers are 9% “less satisfied in their job after experiencing a negative event”, and therefore “paying people more is not necessarily the solution”.

One method, Naz explained, is the use of technology being able to assess or be part of risk situations, such as a mobile app on a smartphone, which can enable employees to have instant access to raise an alarm or speak to someone if they need help. Some employees currently “don’t know what they have access to” he added, which should be a concern for employers.

The running costs of “safeguarding employees” was acknowledged, but in the long run, it was argued that it would save a company more as there would be “decreased reliance on guarding, an improved feeling of safety and a reduced number of people installing”.

Hybrid working duty of care

Nicole Vazquez from Worthwhile Training focused on the employers’ responsibilities for hybrid workers, saying: “No matter how or where people work, The Health and Safety Work Act 1974 should still apply.”

Nicole also explained how the beginning of the COVID lockdown and having to work from home was “an emergency response” for many businesses, however if organisations are still hybrid working “nobody should be harmed because of the way you’ve changed how you work in the business”. Nicole went on to examine how companies should “put in place proper measures and procedures” and look at the new “work-related” risks.

Personal safety concerns impact work

Violet, a Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, took a closer look into the personal safety of hybrid workers. The Trust was set up after the 25-year old Estate Agent, Suzy Lamplugh, went missing in 1986, and is now ‘presumed dead’ after meeting a client for work and never returning to the office or home.

Violet stressed that personal safety is different to health and safety, and is more about how another person’s behaviour can impact an employee while at work. According to the Trust’s research, employees exposed to violence at work had “higher levels of stress, fatigue, sleeping problems and depression” than the average worker. Not only is physical violence an issue, Violet stated, but that “insidious, repetitive, aggressive behaviour” can also have the same impact. She highlighted that “just because something doesn’t result in an incident of violence, it doesn’t mean it’s not impacting that person”.

Security professionals are likely to have experienced many instances of high stress due to workplace violence, with incidents only on the rise across the guarding sector according to recent reports.

From a business perspective, Violet explained that the costs and implications for an employer not considering the personal safety of their staff are loss of talent, gaps of knowledge in the workplace, possible company reputation decreasing and “ultimately the employer can be sued for not protecting their staff”. Violet argued that “employers do have a duty of care to their employees”.

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Each month, the IFSEC Insider (formerly IFSEC Global) Security in Focus podcast brings you conversations with leading figures in the physical security industry. Covering everything from risk management principles and building a security culture, to the key trends ahead in tech and initiatives on diversity and inclusivity, the podcast keeps security professionals up to date with the latest hot topics in the sector.

Available online, and on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, tune in for an easy way to remain up to date on the issues affecting your role.


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