A trend for more flexible working combined with a new army of home-based workers created as a result businesses forced to close office premises during the recession is leading to the emergence of a new legion of ‘lone ranger’ employees.

With the traditional 9 – 5 working day a thing of the past, employees are looking for more flexible ways of working in return for longer working hours. But employers seem equally keen – over half of employers (55%) welcome plans by the Government to introduce legislation requiring them to offer flexible working to all employees. Research firm IDC predicted that by 2013, more than 50% of the UK workforce will be mobile. Over the past three years, according to the official labour force survey, there has been a 19% increase in the number of home workers in Britain.

‘Lone rangers’ have big advantages for businesses and employees alike – reduced overheads, more efficient use of time, ability to cover larger area, more flexible work force. However, the rapid rise in this new style of working is highlighting vulnerabilities in businesses. In many cases, businesses simply don’t understand the potential requirements that their newly created ‘lone ranger’ workforce have.

Lone worker safety is one such example, and an alarmingly large number of employees feel their bosses are not doing enough. A recent survey by Orange found that only half of employees (53%) currently believe their employers do all they can to keep them safe while working out of the office.

“Out of sight, out of mind is a dangerous but all too common attitude when it comes to legal obligations regarding lone workers” says Jim Irving of lone worker personal security company Guardian24. “With many employers now allowing or asking staff to work at home, they need to remember they still have a ‘relevant duty of care’.”