Chief Operating Officer, Peoplesafe

Author Bio ▼

Jen is Chief Operating Officer at Peoplesafe, responsible for leading the transformation of the business’ customer service and delivery including the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). She is passionate about championing women in technology having co-led a Women’s Network and sponsored a development programme for women in tech. Jen is hopeful that Peoplesafe’s new Travelsafe technology will make travel safer for everyone.
February 5, 2024

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New risk profile and challenges for security teams to manage

Hybrid and remote working have changed the risk profile and challenges for security teams to manage. Staff are being given the flexibility to work where they want, and in some cases, when they want to accommodate work and home schedules.

When staff can’t be seen, you can’t know that they’re safe and well. Did they:

  • Arrive at their client’s site safely?
  • Return home without any problems?
  • Avoid having any accidents?

Every week, over 13,000 people are subjected to violence at work. Security teams need a robust and reliable way to mitigate risk and protect their people, as well as their brand reputation and avoid litigation.

Concerns while travelling

Following the high-profile deaths of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa in 2021, a new emergency phone service called 888 was proposed to offer protection to women as they walk home.

Although the 888 service never came to fruition, it highlighted a key safety concern experienced by millions of people. Moreover, it raised an important question for organisations: how do they keep staff safe when they travel?

With 60% of employees reporting personal safety concerns when commuting on public transport during unsociable hours and 75% expressing their fears about their personal safety when travelling for business, there’s clearly a widespread issue for many people.

Travel is becoming a hotbed for issues, with the British Transport Police reporting over a third of women have been sexually harassed on their commute. Most of these offences take place during the evening rush hour of 5-7pm.

Typically, commuting falls outside the scope of business-related travel, but reasonable employers must feel a responsibility and sense of duty to ensure the safety of their employees, even during commuting periods. Going the extra mile to enhance personal security can set organisations apart in the market, elevating the brand’s reputation with customers and potential employees.

Back-to-office mandates

Employers will need to be mindful of these travel concerns as executives plan to encourage and, in some cases, force staff back to workplace attendance.

Four in 10 UK workforces have already returned to a five-day office working week, and 63% of UK CEOs predict a full return to in-office working by 2026.

While it is unlikely that every business will return to pre-Covid ways of working, the widespread adoption of hybrid working still requires employees to travel for a percentage of their working week.

The challenge for security teams is how to provide protection at scale to mitigate risk across all these scenarios and in a way that meets privacy concerns. Staff don’t want to feel as though they are being monitored as they work remotely, but simultaneously crave a solution that provides increased protection, particularly when working or travelling alone.

Personal safety technology

Over a million free personal safety apps have already been downloaded by people proactively seeking additional reassurance as they go about their daily lives.

However, research published in June 2022 found that while people downloading these free apps found them useful, they also reported them as:

  • being unreliable,
  • not working as described, and/or
  • having features that could be exploited.

Response to emergencies is also unrealistic, as they rely on friends and family. This is why many companies are partnering with specialist providers of employee protection technology.

Similar to the proposed 888 service, employee security technology utilises apps and dedicated devices to connect to an accredited, 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). Adhering to strict BS 8484:2022 regulations, all alarm calls received must be answered within 10 seconds.

To tackle the issue of safety while travelling, specific app features have been developed to offer protection to people on the move. Comparable to a journey planner app, people can input their starting point, destination and means of travel, and the app will calculate their journey time, setting an automated alarm for their ETA.

Additional support is provided by scheduled check-ins throughout the journey. These notifications ask for confirmation that everything is okay and, if at any point, the response is ‘no,’ or there’s a repeated failure to respond, an SOS alarm is immediately raised to the call centre.

Triage service

The call centre operates an invaluable triage service, offering a preliminary assessment of a situation to determine its urgency and need for assistance.

Acting as a buffer between the public and security teams, employee safety technology providers can ease the burden on internal security operations by filtering out false alarms and only escalating real incidents.

As part of the qualification to BS 8484, call centres/ARCs have a direct line to emergency control centres via Unique Reference Numbers (URNs). Using this method, receiving help is normally two times faster than calling 999 directly.


Personal safety technology can be rolled out at scale and integrate with existing security systems. With automated welfare checks and all alarms triaged and handled by accredited call centres, businesses can provide 24/7 protection to their workers with zero strain on existing security teams.

Security leaders can meet the new challenges created by hybrid and remote working while simultaneously freeing up resources to focus on other security risks.

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