The Security of Mobile, Remote Workers
Everbridge, Inc., a global software company that provides critical event management and enterprise safety applications to help keep people safe and businesses running, recently announced the findings of its research into the safety of mobile, remote and traveling workers. The research focuses on how companies approach informing and protecting employees in the case when threats such as an active shooter, terrorist attack, workplace violence, or severe weather put the personal security of mobile employees at risk.
According to IDC Research, 72 percent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be made up of mobile workers by 2020. As a result, companies across industries face new challenges to keep their employees safe and informed. Traditional physical security approaches – typically centered around protecting employees within company facilities – are no longer sufficient when the majority of the workforce has “left the building” and is mobile.
The “Protecting the Modern Mobile Workforce,” research report was conducted. Security, risk management, business continuity and emergency management leaders at 412 organizations from a broad range of industries were surveyed. The median size of the companies responding was 1000-2500 employees.
Companies Have Sizeable Mobile Worker Populations. 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.
Business travel is becoming increasingly dangerous. 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.
25 percent of employers stated that they have had their mobile workers in the proximity of a Workplace violence situation in the past 12 months, while 20 percent have had travelers in the proximity of a terrorist attack within 72 hours of its occurrence.
Business travel is becoming increasingly dangerous (cont’d). In addition, the majority of companies – 84 percent – said they had remote workers affected by a location-specific weather event in the last twelve months.
35 percent said they have had 26 or more employees that have who have been affected directly by a critical event while working remotely in the past year.
Organizations feel responsible for protecting mobile employees. Companies were asked whether their employees expected them to help protect them while they were working remotely. 81 percent reported that their employees indeed had that expectation of the organization they worked for.
When asked about their top safety concerns, 65 percent of employers ranked “ensuring workers in the field are safe” as one of their company’s top worries, while 52 percent reported “safety of all traveling employees” as one of the top three.
Employers responsible for ensuring safety of mobile workers during critical event. 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 go a step further: to locate mobile workers who are potentially at risk, alert them to local threats and confirm their safety.
Employers find it challenging to locate employees and confirm safety during critical events. 78 percent stated their leadership team would like them to confirm that all their people are safe and accounted for within an hour of a critical event; only 36 percent could do this today.
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).
Employers find it challenging to locate employees and confirm safety during critical events
- Only 37 percent maintain an accurate record of where employees are expected to be during working hours – and only 25 percent dynamically locate employees when a threat occurs and tailor alerts to those potentially affected.
What steps does your employer take to keep mobile workers safe? According to the findings, the key actions companies take today to protect mobile workers 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).
Only 37 percent maintain an accurate record of where employees are expected to be during working hours – and only 25 percent dynamically locate employees when a threat occurs and tailor alerts to those potentially affected.
Companies monitor and worry about both life-threatening and business-threatening critical events. The two leading threats that companies said they are concerned about are natural disasters and IT outages (both at 60 percent), showing the weight that both types of events—emergency and operations-oriented—carry in today’s business landscape.
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.
By Gary Bernstein
Gary has written for several publications over the last 20 years with his primary focus on technology. He has contributed to sites such as Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch and several others.