While the rest of UK businesses are finally thinking about remote working, and the associated benefits and risks, many don’t realise it’s been a way of life for estate agents for years.
Estate agent Suzy Lamplugh left the office to show a client round a property back in 1986. She never returned and disappeared without trace.
Despite so many years having passed since Suzy’s tragic case, many estate agents still accompany clients to viewings alone – and they are not the only sector in the UK where remote, lone working is not a ‘much desired perk of the job’ but a way of life.
Suzy’s heartbroken parents set up the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and the charity is now one of the leading organisations in the UK for delivering advice to lone workers, including Suzy’s Code, a set of instructions designed to improve personal safety for lone workers.
Employers with lone workers like Estate agents are more likely than other employers to look closely at mobile network coverage, but often what works well in one place won’t work everywhere. Lone workers rely on mobile phones for safety, but ensuring good mobile phone coverage for lone workers is not straightforward. 21% of the UK has partial ‘not spots’ which includes 10% of A roads and 16% of B roads. This is most acutely felt in rural areas, where coverage by each individual network is patchy at best.
A new business mobile multi-network SIM from ITCS, the developers who produce leading estate agent software, AgentPro, could offer a big leap forward in that regard. The company have teamed up with specialist business telecoms provider Gamma Telecom to provide a service that lets business users access ALL UK mobile networks from the same contract.
Gamma’s MultiNet bolt-on will allow connections made on Gamma’s new 4G service to ‘hop’ seamlessly from one carrier network to the next strongest one, wherever there is a signal in the UK. In practice that means remote workers will not be restricted by their mobile network – if you can’t get a signal on your network, the SIM seamlessly switches to a different carrier. This reduces the chances of your staff being out of coverage at critical times.
“Our customers can’t afford for lone workers to be out of contact. The new multi-SIM service is designed to empower business mobile users by removing the hindrance of poor coverage – and it comes from a network with a reputation for first class customer service. We’re already seeing interest, especially among our estate agent customers. We’re expecting the take up to be high.”
ITCS offer a wide range of business mobile plans to suit estate agents, including Pay-as-you-go, single user plans, shared user plans and unlimited plans, and have a specialist team to work with customers – they can even tailor a flexible package to suit your needs.
Gareth John, Managing Director of AgentPro described the new multi-SIM as a ‘huge leap forward’ in lone worker safety, but stressed that safety training remains the most important consideration for employers in the property industry. He says:
“Ultimately, agencies need to do what they can to reduce the risk and good lone working practices and safety training remain paramount.
“We’ve built safety features into AgentPro for lone workers and this new multi-SIM that engages all mobile phone networks is a huge leap forward.
“However, no technology is a substitute for good lone working practices, and new-to-market unqualified agencies may not be as aware of industry safety guidelines as qualified staff. Our advice is therefore to teach and implement Suzy’s Code as the bare minimum – the charity remains the UK’s leading experts on lone worker safety training. Suzy’s legacy is ultimately better protection for others working in the property industry – it’s the best possible tribute to her memory.”