The devastating news of the alleged kidnap and murder of Londoner Sarah Everard dominated news headlines last month. While events like this are fortunately very rare, it has prompted many of us to take another look at how we manage our personal safety. It’s always the case that the onus should be on perpetrators to not commit offences, and that our culture needs to place more emphasis on building cultures of consent and respect – attacks like this are never the victim’s fault. However, while things remain as they are, it is sensible to take some precautions to keep ourselves safe. These tips aren’t just for women: while men are less likely to be assaulted than women, they are also more likely to be victims of most other violent crimes. You’ve probably given some thought already to how you take care in your personal life – but have you thought about how to keep yourself safe when you’re working freelance?
Many companies have lone working policies and employee safeguarding in place to try and protect their workers and raise the alarm if they’re concerned about an employee’s welfare. But most freelancers work alone and don’t necessarily have the support and eyes of colleagues and managers looking out for them. In this article, we take a look at some simple measures that freelancers can take to ensure their safety when working out and about, visiting clients and travelling for business.
Tell someone where you’re going
If you’re off out to meet a client, let someone know where you’re going, including the full address, name of the person or people you’re meeting and the time you expect to be back. Try to avoid meeting clients 1-on-1 where possible; at their offices where there are other employees around, or in a public space such as a café is safer. You could even buddy up with another freelancer to be each other’s safety contacts. We know that lots of freelancers work unsociable hours and that sometimes late meetings can’t be avoided, but if you can keep your meetings to daylight and working hours, that will also make your travel to and from the event safer.
Consider using meeting rooms
If you usually host clients in your home office 1-on-1, you could consider alternative spaces where there will be extra people nearby to act as eyes and ears. Many co-working spaces now offer bookable meeting rooms at a very low cost. This is also useful if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your home address with people that you don’t know very well.
Book travel in advance
Book your travel in advance – whether your journey is a short train ride or an international flight – and share the details of your itinerary with someone you trust, like a friend, partner or family member. For longer journeys or overnight trips, you can even arrange points at which you agree to “check-in”. If travelling by taxi, always pre-book a vehicle using your business account and consider a trackable service like Uber if possible. Again, share the details with your designated contact and let them know when you arrive safely at your destination.
Use your online calendar
Keeping an online calendar of all your appointments is a good organisational tool for freelancers anyway – it helps to make sure you’re not double-booked, you can use it to keep track of your hours spent on various projects and see at-a-glance where you have space in your schedule to fit in new jobs. But it can also serve an important safety function. If you share your calendar with a trusted friend or family member, then they can instantly see where you were headed if they’re struggling to get in contact with you. This is particularly important if you live and work alone.
Set up emergency settings on your phone
Most of us carry our smartphone at all times, but we might not be aware of some of the safety features it contains. Many smartphones have a setting to activate an emergency call from the lock screen without even taking your phone out of your pocket. This varies from model to model, so make sure you’re aware of how to activate this feature on your particular phone. You could also take a minute here to make sure that your emergency contacts are set up and up-to-date (you don’t want to accidentally fire off an SOS alert to your ex). With a smartphone, you can also share your location using WhatsApp, or even download a specialist safety app, like Hollie Guard, which contains features to add journeys, track your location, raise alerts if you’re late arriving somewhere, contact emergency services and even record video and audio in the event of an attack.
This blog isn’t designed to be alarmist or leave freelancers feeling scared. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll find yourself in a dangerous situation in the course of your work. But working alone does bring with it some extra risks and it’s sensible to take some precautions – at the very least making sure someone else knows where you are and who you’re with.
Because freelance work is so different to being an employee, freelancers need business insurance to match their unique circumstances. Dinghy can help freelancers feel less alone by providing back-up when you need it most: when a client accuses you of making a mistake; when someone is injured or their property damaged in the course of your work; when your business equipment is lost, stolen or damaged; or when you’re facing unpaid invoices. For more information and a free, no-obligation quote, visit our website.
This is not a sponsored article and neither Dinghy nor our staff has received any kind of promotional gifts or payments for the apps or services mentioned in this article. We just care about everyone’s safety.