Mathew Colley, Sales & Marketing Manager at LONEALERT, discusses how GPS can protect lone workers - but why some staff still have their doubts
If you want to find out how your best friend is spending their evening you probably only need to log on to Facebook. There you’ll see that tonight they chose an Italian restaurant and ordered the carbonara. In case you don’t know what that is, there’ll be a picture of said carbonara on its arrival, another one of the empty plate, an obligatory snap of them smiling clutching a pint/glass of wine and a brief message concluding that everyone involved had the most amazing time.
Want to know your cousin’s view on Aston Villa’s demise, if Kim Kardashian has managed to find her clothes yet or what Tony in the warehouse thought of Batman Vs Superman? Simple. Log on to Twitter and everything you want to know will be there in black and white - alongside the opinions/comments/holiday photos of thousands of people you’ll never meet. You’ll probably even know that Jane in accounts has had an epiphany to dye her hair whilst sitting in Wetherspoons in Blackpool, because she tagged herself in there 10 minutes earlier.
Add Instagram and Snapchat to the mix and you can get a pretty good idea of everything everyone you’ve ever had any contact with is doing at any moment of the day.
Social media means nothing’s really sacred any more. People are doing the same stuff they always did but for some inexplicable reason seem to think that these days everyone wants to know about it.
This is why it can sometimes be baffling when the reaction to workplaces implementing GPS-based lone worker protection devices is a backlash from some members of staff who cry ‘Big Brother’.
Despite living in a time where GPS is a way of life and people are generally happy to share every aspect of their existence, there still remains a fear among some workers that lone working devices designed to ensure their safety are being introduced to keep them in check by monitoring their every move.
The fact is that they are not. They are there so workers can go about their jobs secure in the knowledge that, should the worst happen, help can be sent to them immediately - wherever they are.
As an employer ask yourself this: How easily could one of your workers be located if they injured themselves or got attacked whilst out on their rounds? Your worker said they’d be in a particular street but have not checked in for over three hours and you’re worried - so which one of the dozens of properties in that road do you go to? Where would you start looking if a member of your team failed to return from a day out on the road when their patch covers 100 square miles?
If you are an employee whose job sees you working in remote, vast or varied locations then ask yourself this: If something happens to me, how is anyone going to know where to find me and send help?
GPS devices have even been known to have come to the rescue of workers accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Staff at one of LONEALERT’s customers, security guard dog firm Pro K9 Ltd, fell under suspicion of taking an expensive generator from one of the sites the company monitored but were able to prove beyond doubt that they were not responsible thanks to the GPS-based Smartphone app they used as their lone worker solution.
Let’s be honest - any system that uses GPS technology does have the potential to be used to check up on whereabouts of workers. But if you are simply getting on with the job at hand then there’s surely nothing to hide. And if you work for a company that thinks highly enough of its workforce to invest in technology to get you help should you ever need it, then is it really the sort of workplace that would use it to spy on you anyway?
Lone worker protection exists to keep you safe at work and make sure help can be sent straight away if you ever need it, not to spy on where you spent your lunch break. That information’s probably on Facebook anyway.