Tactics and Tech for Keeping Remote Employees Safe During a Crisis


With remote work becoming the norm, companies can access global talent. But global talent may be susceptible to regional crises. And companies need to have a contingency plan to protect and provide direction to their remote employees in such a crisis. Discover how technology can help companies improve their contingency plans.

A Gartner surveyOpens a new window found that 88% of organizations were ill-prepared for COVID-19 at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020. Some industries reported even less preparedness after experiencing the pandemic’s sweeping effects. An Ernst & Young surveyOpens a new window in late 2020 of supply chain executives found that only 2% reported they were ready for a pandemic-level event. 

Organizations are reassessing their contingency plans and preparedness as the pandemic heads toward a fourth year. Organizations might sometimes have well-constructed policies and procedures designed to handle risk but delay activating those plans. This often happens when there is no executive ownership of the risk and no sense of urgency to protect the business through swift and appropriate action. Whether acting in their personal or professional life, people often do not take risks seriously until they are faced with them and start to feel the negative impacts. 

Business leaders that downplayed risk or were slow to react received a “wake-up call” with the pandemic. In contrast, leaders who realized the value of a contingency plan to help them navigate through crisis along with a technology-forward organizational structure enabled them to communicate effectively, support team members and customers alike, and facilitate business growth and innovation. Leaders also found greater control and complexity in handling crises in a connected and global world. 

Global Workforces Bring Global Risks

A Deloitte studyOpens a new window found that 60% of workers who shifted to remote positions during the pandemic plan to continue working remotely. It is important to note that global remote workforces present their own challenges when facing a crisis. There are several ongoing global issues impacting workers today. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine caused millions to relocate and resulted in widespread job losses for Ukrainians. The country’s once highly successful and engaged IT sector continues to struggle. This is because programmers and other talent are in transit or are unable to perform their jobs due to the loss of Wi-Fi, pushing tech firms to look elsewhere for readily-available IT services. 

Despite shifting attitudes about the pandemic and the elimination of most lockdowns, the pandemic continues to impact the workforce. Data from the D.C.-based public policy organization Brookings notes that instances of “long COVID” prevent upwards of four million Americans from returning to workOpens a new window , whether in-person or remote. The U.K. has reported similar percentages, with over 1 million employable and skilled workers being ruled out of the job market. It is no wonder the ‘war for talent is as intense as ever.  

The desire for workers to operate remotely and companies facing a labor shortage means remote positions are on track for continued growth. This growth happens globally as software engineers or marketing directors living in Cleveland or Cartagena can work from Jakarta or Jacksonville and everywhere. The endless possibilities mean companies need more comprehensive contingency plans because their workers will encounter a variety of crises throughout the world and will rely on their employers to provide them with safety and direction.

See More: HR Technology: Improving Experiences and Performance of a Global Workforce

Technology Improving Contingency Planning

Managing this new type of work on a global scale will require technology that can efficiently track employee mobility no matter where team members are. These tools enable employers to take swift and effective actions in a crisis, which can, most importantly, keep their teams safe while also ensuring reduced business interruption risks. 

Keeping globally mobile employees safe requires contingency plans that account for multiple facets of the business, including:

  • Employee protection: Contingency plans need to make employees’ safety the top priority. This requires clear policies employees can follow in response to different situations. The company also needs to provide safety-related products, communication tools and other gear that decreases the risk of employee injuries. 
  • Relocation procedures: Contingency plans for global mobility teams need relocation instructions to keep staff and volunteers out of harm’s way. HR and global mobility groups need to proactively know how and where they will relocate employees in a crisis, including short-term and long-term options that keep employees safe and make the most business sense. 
  • Recoverability planning: Contingency and recovery plans should outline how the company can perform its activities during a crisis and how it will respond during the aftermath. This plan should delineate a chain of command for crisis communications and decisions and allocate resources to implement the plan. 

Technology tools and platforms prove invaluable during a crisis. For example, mobility dashboards offered through platforms give employers instant access to essential information. This ringfenced access includes the current employee’s location so the team can respond to threats on the ground. It offers emergency contact details to coordinate relocation efforts or use those contacts to reach the employee under duress. Another feature of such platforms is pulse checks that companies can use to gauge an employee’s wellbeing. This provides the employee with a direct line to global mobility staff and HR, so they can talk to them about emerging risks and set contingency plans in motion to avoid threats. 

A use case for such a plan and platform comes from a communications firm that leverages to manage its global team. After the conflict began, the communications firm needed to take swift action to protect employees in both Ukraine and Russia. The company’s head of global mobility initially thought it would only need to extract a small group of employees but determined all staff would need to leave Russia. They used the platform to locate employees immediately. They also used the stored contact details to relay relocation information and other details that allowed the employees to leave and establish themselves in a non-conflicted area. 

Global workforces mean opportunity for employers, but it also comes with global exposure to crises. Disruptive events will happen, and employers need technology-driven plans to manage emergencies and help them thrive through the aftermath. They need automated tools that keep employee information secure, accessible and connected to other teams, so business leaders can make the best possible data-driven decisions when lives are at stake. 

How are you using technology to improve your contingency plans to protect remote employees in times of crisis? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .

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