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Top tools for keeping staff safe abroad

Advances in technology mean it's never been easier to keep tabs on employees abroad and ensure their safety


The nature of the work carried out by WYG takes employees all over the globe, including to high-risk locations. In such hostile environments it’s essential WYG can account for its people. This is why employees carry a Pocket Buddy – a small, discreet GPS tracker. “If their phone is broken or switched off you’ve still got the ability to track employees,” says group HRD Karen Brookes. “They’re not as visible as a mobile phone might be – the idea is they can be hidden and we can still track the person.”


While some companies may choose a standalone tracker, others make use of the devices already nestled in employees’ pockets. Services company International SOS has an app where clients’ staff can log in to ask for help, get updates on moving situations or ‘check in’ to let their employer know their whereabouts.

“If there’s an incident in that country, the app enables companies to send out alerts and updates,” says security director Tim Willis. “For some large companies it enables them to communicate via two-way instant messaging, so they can rapidly check where their people are if there’s an incident. They can send a message saying: ‘Are you ok? Press one for yes, two for no’.”


For companies entering a new market, information about the local environment might be a bit thin on the ground. This is why HR or global mobility teams often solicit the help of external data companies, which can help them make risk assessments, as well as calculations about security processes and remuneration.

“They standardise the measurements around what is called ‘hardship’: that’s looking at quality of life, security, and local infrastructure. They’ve got 14 different areas they look at and determine how much hardship there is and they rate that on a scale,” explains Lisa Johnson, global practice leader at Crown World Mobility.

“Based on that scale, employees going into certain hardship locations will be paid premiums in addition to their compensation because of the risks they’re taking or the personal disruption of the quality of their life.”

Further reading

How to keep overseas employees safe