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  • Mark Hanley

Lone Worker Protection - Outsource or Own?


For most investment or business projects, there tend to be a few ‘binary’ decisions we need to make. Shall we build this thing ourselves or buy it? Shall we hire the people ourselves or get an external professional services team run it for us? Shall we own the process and technology, or shall we put it out to someone else and concentrate on our own thing? This post explores the two possible courses of action for lone worker monitoring, alerting and communications: outsource or own.

The Hybrid Lone Worker Approach

At first glance this might seem like an either / or situation. Either you outsource protection or don’t. Well, not exactly. Depending on the complexity of your facilities and operations, and depending on the time of day or how you configure your shifts, you could do both. A ‘hybrid’ approach might play out as follows: during the day time you deal with all aspects of lone worker protection yourselves; at nights, on weekends or holidays you offload the coverage to another party to take care of. We’ll come back to this approach a little later in the post.

Outsourced Lone Worker Protection

“Leave it to the experts.” That's what people tend to say when it comes to something they don’t specialise in. Letting someone else take care of a specific area of your business allows you to concentrate on your core competence, which might be producing food, beer, oil, devices, pharmaceuticals or an almost limitless range of other items.

Outsourcing your lone worker protection usually means entrusting the monitoring of your key people and your facilities to a security company. This company may put people on site, or they may manage the monitoring and alerting from call centres, providing a complete service to you and a host of other customers with centralised staff and facilities. This is the traditional approach to lone worker protection 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It ticks a box for you, and it passes the hassle and responsibility to someone else.

When an alert is triggered, it goes into a call centre, and your outsourced provider has a process and follows the ‘run book’. It’s pretty efficient, depending on how busy the call centre is, but you have 24-hour coverage and alerts can be responded to and actioned within minutes. It’s also quite an expensive approach, since you’re paying for 24/7/365 coverage and meeting the costs associated with having staff on hand and centres to run. You hope that there is the minimum amount of emergency events or crises to manage – and ideally there are none of them – so there is inevitably a huge amount of redundancy tied to this kind of approach.

Finally, traditional approaches to lone worker protection are exactly that – traditional. They don’t take advantages of the latest technologies which make it easier for you to cope with the growing, evolving and changing nature of your business. Replacing old technology with new technology is expensive – for you or your protection partner – whereas the newer solutions give you the flexibility to adapt your working practices cost effectively.

Owned (and Automated) Lone Worker Protection

Some companies experience an anxiety with outsourcing lone worker monitoring, alerting and communications systems. You can’t ‘see’ the outsourced solution all the time and you can reduce that anxiety when you have your dedicated solution in house and you have it under your own control. As the saying goes, what’s the point of having a dog if you can bark yourself?

Owned lone worker protection involves automation, where software placed on your lone worker devices takes care of the monitoring and enhanced communications. This software complements the calling, texting and Internet or data enabled aspects of the smartphone with additional functionality including panic, emergency or alarm buttons, timed check-in alerting, ‘man down’ detection, outdoor and indoor positioning, and push-to-talk (also known as PoC – ‘Push-to-talk over Cellular’). The software is in constant contact with the back end system which manages all alerting and communications through rules-based automation. In this sense it is the system providing the protection, rather than the outsourced staff and call centre.

Using software to take care of the monitoring, alerting and communications obviously has a much lower cost base than the approach using physical buildings and bodies. Because it’s an automated solution it can also process alerts and mobilise multiple first responders in a matter of seconds rather than the minutes it might take with a traditional run book. Furthermore, one centralised system can connect different types of lone worker devices, positioning systems and other technologies to give you a unified alerting and communications system. This is great for peace of mind and makes it much easier to demonstrate compliance rather than having to collate information from multiple different systems and parties.

But what about the hybrid approach we talked about? Owning your software solution means you can have your cake and eat it, deploying both the outsourced and the owned avenues if you so wish. You can put rules in place to deal internally with lone worker monitoring, alerting, responding and communications at certain times of the day, and offload the processes and protocols to a third party at other times, like out-of-office hours or the night shift. This approach may be a good fit for your own business situation. The owned solution gives you that flexibility.

To talk to us about your lone worker protection requirements, and to discuss your preferred option, you can contact us here.

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