Safety and security of employees when they are travelling- a ‘top priority’ for corporates. But when the reality is that safety and security cannot come at a single penny more expensive than the cheapest available service, the focus moves to reporting, tracking and trends. Recurring themes and using the information to adapt travel policy is great in theory, but how do you get a computer to make someone feel safe?

The technology to give people reassurance is there, in fact arguably, all the tools are available to make employees travelling feel safe. From mobile alerts to inform the traveller of local risks and news through to GPS tracking of a mobile phone with a red alert button that can have a security professional at your side within an hour anywhere in the world. It all exists. So why isn’t it widely used? We’d argue because the value of the technology comes down to the corporates appetite for risk. There’s no need for investment in technology if you are happy for employees to be informed and then make their own personal judgement regarding the security of an Uber or Airbnb. But is that really enough?

Safety and security precautions are most evident and are taken most seriously by all when you send an employee to an area of conflict, but what about every employee that gets off a flight and catches an Uber instead of booking a transfer? Considering the fact an Uber in New York is a third of the price of a hotel limo, it’s not surprising most employers are happy to turn a blind eye if the employee chooses convenience and cost over any potential risks. And yet the challenge becomes clear when the employee chooses Uber, outside of the travel policy, and an issue occurs. In this type of circumstance, we have to distinguish the personal responsibility from the corporate responsibility. Most cases can be resolved with a pragmatic look at the circumstances but in an increasingly litigious society where claiming compensation from a corporate company is viewed as a victimless crime by those willing to abuse it, it can be a difficult, and expensive, situation to resolve.

Through this lens, slowly but surely safety and security policy becomes part of business risk management, labelled as corporate social responsibility.

But what about when technology is used, what boundaries need to be in place? Is it ok for your employee to track you via GPS when you are travelling, all in the name of ‘safety and security’? As the prevalence of social media rapidly grows and the likes of Richard Branson and Elon Musk race to deliver global Wi-Fi connectivity, at some point in time in the very near future, the ability to know the location of every employee will be the norm. Even now you can go to Mothercare to get a tag for your child so you know if they have strayed more than 50m away from where they should be. There will be employers and employees that want the same comfort.

But safety and security isn’t just the concern of the employee or the employer. It is a massive concern for the families of the employee. The substantial increase in the use of Facetime and social media to enable families to stay in contact and feel reassured their loved one is safe is evident in our every day lives. Would GPS location tracking make your family feel a bit safer? Does a global Wi-Fi network that allows employees to stay connected with their families, to feel less separated and reassured sound good? Absolutely.

Will corporates spend money on it? Yes. Why? We will get to a point where a technology will be so good it will make you feel safe, without companies feeling like they are spending money unnecessarily. And if you feel safe while you are travelling for work, it impacts how you behave. And how you behave impacts how you act when you attend the critical meeting you travelled abroad for. And that could impact business.

So, can a computer make you feel safe? If that computer is part of a live feedback loop that is adjusting policies and risk factors whilst keeping you connected with your family and making you feel confident at that all important meeting, then yes, absolutely. And it doesn’t have to cost the world either.

If you want to investigate the various technologies available for CSR, give us a call and ask to speak with either Colin Boddy or Paul Thompson.