As a leading supplier of lone worker solutions for over 20 years, we have considerable experience working with customers in a wide range of industries and with teams operating within low and high-risk environments. Within this blog, we will be focusing on the role of property / letting managers, who to many businesses and organisations, are considered to work in low-medium risk environments. We will examine why this certainly isn’t the case and offer some tips to help increase the safety of people working within this sector.
The working environment
Property managers will often spend considerable time meeting a variety of people, who are often complete strangers, within a closed property environment. These people include residents, service providers, trades people and customers who are often unknown to the property manager and could pose a potential threat.
The work carried out by property managers is very similar to Estate Agents, who also work in closed environments with strangers for significant periods of time. In a recent survey, 29% of agents admitted to being a victim of verbal abuse with 25% feeling that their safety hadn’t been fully considered by the company. Other studies found that the industry has a common misconception that attacks upon agents are random opportunistic street crimes, whereas the reality learnt through police reports suggest that they are more of a predatory nature.
Probably the most high-profile case in the UK involved Suzy Lamplugh, a young Estate Agent who tragically disappeared in July 1986 following a client meeting at a property in Fulham. “When Suzy went missing, it was in the days before smart phones, the only clue her company had to her whereabouts was an entry in the diary,” said Lara Wilks Sloan of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
“We know from the work we carry out with companies that things have changed since 1986 but we’ve carried out new research that indicates that 30 years on, safety in the housing sector is still a concern for estate agents and consumers too,” she explained.
Best safety practices
Based on our professional experience, we have put together this simple checklist to help minimise the safety risks associated with the day-to-day tasks of property / letting managers.
1. Always inform your manager and colleagues of the location of the meeting and approximate time duration that you expect to be there. Ensure that the name, address and contact number of the person you are meeting is recorded and easily accessible for your colleagues.
2. Check back into the office with a manager or colleague to inform them that the meeting has ended and that you are making your way back to work. Unless you are with another colleague, never accept a lift from or to the property from a contact.
3. If possible, check the contacts authenticity before the meeting by checking that their work details are genuine. If possible or practical, try to meet the contact at the office in the first instance so that your colleagues are also able to identify them. If you have any suspicions, then immediately raise this with your manager before your meeting.
4. If you do not have access to a lone worker device, then you can use your mobile phone to ‘log’ the visit with a colleague or office answering machine. This could be as simple as stating that you have arrived for your appointment with the client and the expected meeting duration. This is a non-offensive gesture that makes it subtly clear to the contact that your colleagues are fully aware of your location and expected return time.
5. Consider a personal safety device, such as an audio alarm, as a backup incase of an emergency. Always check beforehand with your company about their policies regarding anti-threat devices such as these.
6. Trust your instincts, if there is anything about the person that doesn’t feel right upon meeting, immediately make your excuses and leave. If a further meeting does need to take place, then always ensure that a colleague is present too.
These simple processes can make a real difference to the safety of individuals in this type of environment, however the most effective solution by far is a dedicated lone worker system. This service will provide you with instant access to our 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) team, who are professionally trained to support lone workers in all types of situations, from a simple fall to a serious assault. Our team have direct access to local Police control rooms, bypassing 999 services and ensuring direct assistance in the case of an emergency within seconds.
Some other features include the ability for users to create instant logs, so that the company has all the details of your visit beforehand, and also ‘Stay with me’ where operators will ‘accompany’ the user during any situation that feels potentially threatening. We often perform device trials with individual teams to best understand which solution best matches their needs, as each environment will often require a different solution, and it is very important that the user feels comfortable with the service.
Once the assessment process is complete, we then develop a customised plan to deliver relevant educational training to all end users detailing how the technology works, why they are being provided with the solution and how this will benefit each person as an individual.
We hope that this blog has been useful in highlighting the high-risk environment that people within this type of industry face each day, and the simple processes that can make all the difference. Our RedAlert services are designed to add an extra layer of protection to help ensure safety and peace of mind for both employees and employers. If you would like more information on this service, then please get in touch and we will be happy to help.
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