Working Alone Evolution
Safely working alone comes with confidently knowing, when help is needed.
Each evolution grew from changing on the job needs, oversights and mistakes, by enhancing simplicity,
reliability and focus.
Workers being dropped off and picked up, had the span of time between those two, when help might be needed.
Land lines and some mobile phones allowed workers to call for help. Work reports and phone logs did identify
situation dangers. When the number of workers to be dropped off and picked up grew from one to three or more
scaling became a major challenge. Things got complicated and very time consuming, driving costs and frustration.
Things changed, as people got to the work alone site on their own.
The work start and end were marked by a discussion with the boss.
The boss found those 'talks' taking more time from other parts of their jobs.
Those 'talks' were great, except if there was noise. Traffic, machinery, crowds all made it better to talk later.
Construction sites with accented workers or when workers just had too much work, all made it better to talk later.
The safety component would get lost among other immediately important items. Recording where people were, when the
call took place, when to follow up, never mind when actually followed up easily got missed.
Assistants, would help thought the bosses. Assistants asked the specific questions about when, where, and what is
going on. The person at the work alone sight no longer had to report to their boss or perhaps did that as well. In
either case workers had discussions with someone who neither had the bosses understanding or authority. New human
resource issues surfaced. The extended discussions, to increase 'clarity', that was to replace the historic worker
boss communication resulted in increased frustration. More documentation, less work, more frustration, lost
attention to safety. Vocal communications, rich facts and implied messages, bury work alone information under a
mass of information.
Posted schedules promised relief and greater efficiency for those working alone. When and where got set up before
hand. Confirming on arrival and departure seemed easy and all that was needed. Unfortunately, problems came with
schedule cancellations and changes. Exceptions did not fit in this work flow. Schedules got altered, after the fact.
It became reporting of a 'small change' - too little to tell others about, at the moment. The devil was in the details,
and in the risk to the work alone worker.
Real time recording of where and what is happening has become the sign of a mature work alone job management. Usually
using any one of phoning, emailing or texting to confirm the work schedule is frequently used. Most often someone
responds as soon as they are not busy. The worker goes on about their job regardless of a response and probably with
a false sense of security. Emails frequently end up in spam filters, text messages can be trapped in the phone
if turned off to quickly and voice messages go unnoticed when the ringing is missed. Confirmation is critical for
confidence, just as the work alone workers information is critical for later help.
A complexity paradigm solution surfaces. The recording of work alone information, confirmations, follow up at the
appropriate time, for all workers, needs to happen. Keeping this all working, effective and cost controlled needs
constant attention. Information systems don't get bored, frustrated or loose attention. The WorkAlone Protocol
processes support for those working alone simply, reliably and cost effectively until help is needed then changes
to focus on timely and effectively as help and urgency are indicated, all the while providing detailed logs.
Activating help deals with the same communications interruptions that users faced. Providing an exact copy of the
SMS text message, email or voice recording allows all those helping to have confidence in what they know about the
situation now needing help. Whether active measures help comes from the basic three, using the three technologies,
or an EGroup, the user working alone can have the expectation of the best help notification available today.