With 72 percent of the U.S. workforce expected to be made up of mobile workers by 2020, companies will face new challenges as traditional physical security approaches aimed at protecting employees within company facilities will no longer apply to a majority of the workforce.
A new report, “Protecting the Modern Mobile Workforce” from Everbridge, Inc. focuses on how companies approach informing and protecting employees when threats such as an active shooter, terrorist attack, workplace violence, or severe weather put the personal security of mobile employees at risk.
• An Increasingly Dangerous Business Travel Landscape: An overwhelming majority of employers (74 percent) reported that they felt it was more dangerous for employees to travel domestically and internationally today than two years ago. In fact, 25 percent of respondents stated that a dangerous workplace violence situation has occurred near their mobile workers in the past 12 months, while 20 percent have had travelers in the proximity of a terrorist attack within 72 hours of its occurrence.
At the same time, companies have sizeable mobile worker populations: 37 percent of companies stated that more than a quarter of their workforce spends at least 10 hours a week working remotely, away from a fixed office location.
• Organizations Are Responsible For Protecting Mobile Employees: With increased travel and work mobility comes the expectation – shared by both employees and employers alike – that it is the company’s responsibility to keep its employees informed and safe, no matter where they might be. 81 percent of companies reported that their employees expected their organization to help protect them while they are mobile, traveling, or working remotely.
Moreover, 97 percent of companies said that they believed it is important to be able to at least share information about potential threats with employees who may be in harm’s way. 83 percent said it was their responsibility to do more: to locate mobile workers who are potentially at risk, alert them to local threats, and confirm their safety.
• Employees Are Willing to Prioritize Safety Over Privacy: 77 percent of employers said that their employees would prioritize safety over privacy concerns when it comes to identifying their location during a critical event.
• Employers are Challenged with Effectively Locating and Confirming Mobile Employee Safety: The key actions companies take today during a critical event are to send out alerts and instructions widely when threats occur (65 percent) and to provide annual training on how to respond to a threat (49 percent).
However, companies have difficulty pinpointing who among their mobile workforce might actually be affected by a critical event: only 37 percent said they maintain an accurate record of where employees are expected to be during working hours, and only 25 percent said they dynamically locate employees when a threat occurs and tailor alerts to those potentially affected.
Although field worker safety was seen as a top mobile worker safety concern (by 65 percent of respondents), only 18 percent said that they require lone/field workers to regularly check in on their safety and only 14 percent stated that they send out regular communications to lone/field workers to check on them.
Companies also have difficulty meeting expectations from their leadership team in reporting on the safety of employees. 78 percent of respondents stated that their leadership team would like them to be able to confirm that all their people are safe and accounted for within an hour of a terrorist act or critical event in a location where they have employees; only 36 percent said that they could do this today.
“The increasing mobile workforce provides organizations with greater flexibility, but also challenges them to keep their employees safe in an environment of increasing threats,” said Imad Mouline, CTO, Everbridge. “Our research indicates that both employers and employees expect companies to protect them wherever they are, but that there is a gap between these expectations and companies’ ability to meet them. Closing this gap so that companies can accurately locate, inform, and get feedback from potentially affected employees when a serious threat occurs will be part of the successful transition to a mobile workforce.”
A copy of the full report is available online.