Covid-19 has had serious implications for people's health, and has significantly impacted on the healthcare system, businesses, and the economy in general. A sizeable number of workers are faced with a loss of income and concerns remain about the long-term stability of the economy, increases in unemployment and general uneasiness about what the future may hold.

Across society, feelings of frustration and fear of the unknown have created anxieties, becoming trigger points for aggressive and violent behaviours, significantly affecting public-facing, frontline employees. Examples include reports of a surge in assaults on the police and other frontline workers including in health and retail.

Many employees experience incidents of harassment, aggression and violence in the workplace regardless of Covid-19, perpetrated by clients, customers or even colleagues. Organisations are therefore used to taking steps to implement personal safety measures to protect their workforce. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has also driven many organisations to seriously reflect on new risks staff will be exposed to, both within and outside of the home, as a result of remote lone-working, while unsupervised by their employer. Anyone who is now working from home, has effectively become a lone worker.

In our most recent podcast featuring Dr Claire Lawrence, Associate Professor in Psychology at Nottingham University, we discuss the psychology of violence and aggression in the context of the workplace and the Covid-19 pandemic. Clare highlights some useful tips for staying safe at this time including increased awareness of our own body language, and appreciation for how everyone is trying to keep themselves and their family safe, although their actions may differ to our own. She also highlights the role of employers in prioritising workers' wellbeing at this time and acknowledging that home life may be additionally stressful and impacting on work as we all adjust to unprecedented ways of working.

Ultimately, creating a culture of personal safety in the workplace reassures the employees that their wellbeing matters and enables them to work more productively in the knowledge that their employers value them.

Practical policies and effective staff training in personal safety and conflict de-escalation management can help employees assess, mitigate and manage such risks, leading to a happier, more productive and confident workforce, where the risk of physical, psychological and emotional harm to staff, corporate litigation, negative publicity, loss of talent, and increased insurance costs to employers are minimised. Suzy Lamplugh Trust can support organisations with training and consultancy to ensure their staff have the tools and understanding in place to stay safe when working.