Is It Safe for Employees to Travel Abroad? How Companies Can Use Incident Communications Software to Protect Themselves

How Companies Can Use Incident Communications Software to Protect Themselves

The Travel Risk is Real

You don’t have to look long to find news of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, political unrest, and other safety threats around the world. It can be a scary place, especially if you’re a frequent traveler. Not too long ago, business travelers only had to be concerned with logistics and language barriers. Today, they have to be on alert everywhere they go, both home and abroad.

The Global Business Travel Association found millennials are nearly twice as likely to want to travel more for business than Baby Boomers and 57% of millennials believe technology can “never replace face-to-face meetings to get business done.” These numbers help explain the boom in business travel. Nearly 500 million business trips were taken in 2015 and that number is expected to grow considerably in the coming years.

It’s easy to assume the vast majority of these trips are non-events. The 2015 Global Mobility Survey reported more than half of the organizations questioned experienced an “incident” at some point where their health and/or safety was at stake. Even more alarming, nearly 22% experienced such events in 2015 alone, doubling the number of incidents reported in 2014. This is unsettling as 89% of organizations plan to increase the number of mobile employees in the next two years. These include domestic and international employees, but all of these numbers prove business travel isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

What can companies do to better protect their traveling workforce? Invest in cloud-based incident communications software to ensure employee tracking and two-way communication is always available.

Safety First

Employees and executives either love to travel or they hate it. On the one hand, traveling to foreign destinations can be exciting and a welcomed change in scenery. On the other hand, it can be draining and a hassle as they deal with long airport security lines, flight delays, and being away from their families. Either way, travelers want to feel safe wherever they go. Leaving your home base to venture across the pond can leave you feeling isolated. Being alone, in a foreign country, when trouble strikes is downright terrifying.

Companies who commission employees to travel on their behalf must be willing to do whatever it takes to keep those employees safe, no matter where they travel. While many things are completely out of anyone’s control and impossible to predict, having an emergency plan in place should an incident occur is the first step in reassuring employees you have their back.

Many companies individually check in with traveling employees via phone, email, texts, push messaging, or instant messaging, but incident communications software is much more effective and instantaneous. Combining GPS, geo-fencing, and third party sources, such as news outlets, weather radars, social media, and the Department of State International Travel site, traveling employees can be tracked down to the street level, instantly notified through multiple channels simultaneously of impending danger, and given detailed instructions on the best next course of action. Employees also can use the system to respond to the notifications or send messages, providing real-time accounts of events as they happen.

Practical Use Cases

Let’s pretend for a minute that you are scheduled to go to Italy for business. While you’re there, you feel something strange underfoot. The ground is shifting and in an instant, you are experiencing your first earthquake. Buildings around you are cracking and crumbling and the ground beneath you is splitting. What do you do?

Of course, you want to protect yourself from the immediate threat, but if you’re there on a job assignment, you’d probably want to alert your employer after you find a safe place to go. What is your employer going to do to help? How are you going to get home? Where are the designated safe areas?

If they are using incident communications software, they would likely already know there was an earthquake and would have contacted you over multiple channels (text, voicemail, email, and app push notifications). They would be able to see exactly where you are and direct you to safe ground. They could then ensure you had a safe place to stay until they could find a way home for you. You could communicate with them to let them know exactly what was happening and specific details of your current situation.They could help you notify any family members if you were having difficulty getting through. Would that give you peace of mind?

Another example would be if you were in a foreign country where a political protest was underway. The last thing a traveler wants to be caught up in would be any violence that may occur abroad. Using the right software, your company could give you up to the second information on the protest and its location(s), alert you if there was a safer route or location for you to go, and keep tabs on you until you made it safely back home. You could be in constant contact with your company until the situation was under control.

The more mobile we become, the greater the need to leverage technology to keep us connected. While you hope to never need it, incident communications software can be a valuable tool for companies and a lifeline for employees.