Case Study: WATMOS Housing

November 12, 2020
Caroline Preece

WATMOS Housing is an organisation dedicated to building affordable and safe neighbourhoods at a local level. The company owns almost 2,700 homes located in the West Midlands and Lambeth, London. 

The wide and varied work WATMOS does as a charitable housing association means it must have access to reliable, effective lone worker solutions to keep their employees safe while they are working.

Challenge: Late-night working

Many of WATMOS’ key frontline staff are lone workers, with some also required to work late into the evening or night. This brings with it additional health and safety challenges that must be overcome in order to ensure the wellbeing of these employees.

“Our lone workers are mainly frontline workers. They’re our caretakers and repair technicians. They do various shifts during the day with people around, but also evening shifts. That can be until 10 o’clock at night.

“So you’ve got a caretaker by themselves on a night or evening shift who has left the building by themselves at 10 o’clock. That’s quite concerning because, at the end of the day, even though they’re inside of the estate, it doesn’t stop outsiders from coming in.”

Raj Kaur, Human Resources Officer

With so many staff working alone late into the night in one way or another, the company needs to be able to ensure the safety of everyone from cleaners to housing staff.

“They’re quite vulnerable even if the estates are quite well kept. If you walk out of the entrance, there’s potentially somebody there who might knock you over… We’ve also got housing staff, who have to go to appointments at residential properties.”

Raj Kaur, Human Resources Officer

Solution: Peace of mind for workers

With Sentinel Mini lone worker devices from Vatix, all of WATMOS’ lone workers benefit from the security of being in reach of assistance whenever they need it. 

When employees are alone late at night they are more at risk from being confronted, threatened or attacked either during their shift or even on their route home, but lone worker devices give them peace of mind that, should an incident occur, they can simply hit the SOS button and be put in contact with the right person straight away. 

There's also the risk of accidents happening whilst employees are alone, and Vatix's lone worker alarms come with a Man Down feature as standard. This can detect when the user has fallen and may have become incapacitated.

Challenge: Cumbersome devices

The company’s previous provider supplied employees with ID badges that were unfortunately unfit for purpose. Whether it was Man Down sensors being activated too easily or limitations in the way they could be worn, workers responded negatively to them. 

These design and functionality limitations led to the devices not being used. This creates two problems - the business's return on investment is unfulfilled, and workers are left unprotected because of a device they find too difficult to use.

“I’ll be honest and say that our operatives didn’t want to wear them... They had to remove the badge to look under a leaky sink or at a burst pipe, and the Man Down sensor started going off. Then someone would be alerted and it was very inconvenient. That’s why when I had the meeting with Vatix, I liked that you mentioned the devices as being more like pagers or mobile phones. I thought they would be more practical.”

Raj Kaur, Human Resources Officer

Solution: Alarms designed for users

Vatix’s devices have been designed to fit in with the everyday tasks and duties of those who need to wear them. Rather than be constrained by a device that must be worn a certain way, the Sentinel Mini can be worn by the user in a way that works best for them. 

“I had feedback that our previous solution wasn’t suitable, especially for our staff. We did our research and came across Vatix. I thought that, because the devices are more like pagers and mobile devices, the staff could just put them in their bag and go if they wanted to.”

Raj Kaur, Human Resources Officer

We also provide our customers with accessories made for the devices that give users the option of attaching them to clothing or even to a dashboard when driving. This means that they are always within reach without interfering with the activity of the job.

“You also mentioned it comes with a belt clip. That’s ideal for our workmen and operatives who wear those kinds of work trousers. They can just clip it on.”

Raj Kaur, Human Resources Officer

Challenge: Additional costs and long contracts

Another big problem with WATMOS’s previous solution was the lack of flexibility it offered, trapping the company into a 3-year deal that became less value for money as time went on. 

This is common in the industry but does not always serve customers or end-users who are subsequently tied to a system that may not work for them. 

Additional costs for mobile workforce management systems, which allow the lone worker alarms to feedback valuable location data that can be used for things such as actionable reports, were also a problem for the organisation, who wanted a solution that came ready to use. 

Solution: All-in-one solution

As part of our mission to give customers a plan that works for them, Vatix is one of the only lone worker service providers that does not offer multiple-year contracts as standard.

We do this largely because we believe that the quality of the service and our solution should speak for itself, and we take responsibility for making signing on for a further 12-months an easy choice for our clients.

We prize great customer service above everything, setting users up with the entire Protector™ system from the start. This is why we are confident enough not to shackle them to long contracts that remove responsibility from the provider.

“For me, it was the whole package, with the system also letting you see where [employees] are. I don’t think our previous provider had that at the time. Or they had it at an extra cost. Vatix’s system came as part and parcel. That’s what made me interested.”

Raj Kaur, Human Resources Officer

Challenge: Uncertain work patterns

In 2020, like almost every business across the world, WATMOS saw a dramatic shift in their normal patterns of working. This did not just impact the company’s existing lone workers, but also those who had previously worked alongside colleagues.

“It’s two very different things where housing staff are doing state inspections, going around the block and assessing things, and then for people like myself, there’s working late in the office. If I go on a Friday I may leave at 6 or 7 o’clock. I could be locking up by myself [and something happens].”

“Our frontline key workers are doing more lone working this year because there’s no office staff around them. Before you could pop into the office if you had an issue, or ring them up. They haven’t got that option at the moment because everybody’s working from home.

Raj Kaur, Human Resources Officer

With this new mode of working predicted to continue, many organisations may have more lone workers than previously. This means that their solutions must be useable in a multitude of different contexts and environments.

Solution: Adaptable lone worker protection 

In order to best serve companies in 2020 and beyond, lone worker protection must be totally adaptable and ready for anything. 

“I don’t think we’re going to be going back to full-time in the office for quite some time. It could six or seven months, or even eight months, so we’ll have to wait and see… There’s no shortage of challenges, even now as we speak.” 

Raj Kaur, Human Resources Officer

Vatix’s lone worker solutions can be used across a huge range of contexts, with the Protector™ platform allowing users greater flexibility when it comes to device sharing, team management and much more.

Our devices coupled with the Protector™ platform have helped WATMOS give their workers more security and protection, whether they have always worked alone or have found themselves working without their colleagues for the first time.

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