Before the crisis, only 2% of white collar workers had ever worked from home full time.
But COVID-19 has changed this status quo overnight. Remote work is now the new norm across all company sizes – from startups, to small companies and large corporations.
While there are many benefits associated with remote working, it also brings about a number of risks.
As an employer, did you know that:
- remote work requires you to address a different set of risks compared to your employees working from the office?
- you are legally responsible for those risks, regardless of how big or small your company is?
Understanding these and your responsibilities to your team, can help you manage your work from home risks and safeguard your remote team’s well-being.
Here are the top 3 common work from home risks:
Cybersecurity Work From Home Risks
How COVID-19 has increased cybersecurity risks
In response to Covid-19, many businesses have started to rely on cloud services and remote access technologies so that they can continue operating their businesses.
In April 2020, Microsoft Team’s daily active users increased by 70%, reaching 75 million. And in just two months, Zoom added more video-conference users than in all of 2019!
Businesses have also rushed to invest in VPNs, virtual desktop solutions, cloud email servers, and many other software.
At the same time, cyber attackers have started to take advantage of unsuspecting employees and unsecured networks. The incidences of impersonation and hack of sensitive business data have skyrocketed.
A recent study by VMWare found that 89% of US respondents experienced cyberattacks linked to COVID-19 malware. Closer to home, in June 2020, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore reported an almost 3-fold increase in phishing incidents compared to 2019.
From the experts
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and a few minutes of cyber incident to ruin it.Stéphane Nappo, Vice President Global Chief Information Security Officer, Société Générale
The 5 cybersecurity risks that increases with remote work
- Home Wi-Fi security. Compared to the office where IT managers can set firewalls, employees’ home WiFi networks usually have weaker security protocols. This increases the possibility of a breach.
- Phishing scams. Phishing emails are innocuous-looking and from seemingly trusted sources. Once the links or attachments in the email are clicked on, malware is downloaded and hackers can easily gain access into the employee’s computer.
- Weak passwords. Nearly 20% of employees use the same password across multiple work systems. This increases the risk of sensitive information being lost if the password is compromised.
- Multiple devices. Most employees tend to use more than 1 device when working from home. As each device can be a potential entry point for hackers, this complicates cybersecurity efforts.
- Increased data-sharing through the Internet. Virtual collaboration requires that employees exchange information more frequently through the Internet. When employees correspond and share data through email, Slack, WhatsApp, this exposes the information to more opportunities to be intercepted.
Steps that companies can take to address remote work cybersecurity risks
The fact is, human factor is the biggest risk for cybersecurity.
52% of businesses admit that employees are their biggest risk factor in cybersecurity, with careless actions putting IT security at risk.
As a first step, employees should be trained on basic security practices such as identifying suspicious emails or websites, and using strong passwords.
For remote workers, the company can consider having an IT professional to set up a secure home internet network to avoid security breaches.
Employers can also consider purchasing cybersecurity liability insurance to protect the company from significant losses in case of a hack or loss of data.
Health and Safety Work From Home Risks
Most employers are aware of their legal obligations to ensure employees’ health and safety in the office.
In Singapore, common law and the Workplace Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a safe work environment for their employees and not put them in harm’s way.
Within the office, many employers hire experts to configure employees’ workstations, provide adequate lighting, and purchase ergonomic equipment. These actions directly impact the safety and health of the employees.
But the situation changes when the employee works from home. Employers no longer know what work setup their employee has. They are also unable to impact the employees’ work environment.
How health and safety risks increase when employees work from home
Remote employees who work at home face 2 types of risks:
- physical injuries caused from accidents; and
- ergonomic-related injuries.
Physical injuries caused from accidents in the home can range from tripping over cables , burns, electrical shock to falling down the stairs.
The laws in Singapore, and in most countries, permit the employee to claim and get compensated for work injury if the injury happens while they are performing a work task.
Ergonomic-related injuries are physical injuries caused by repetitive strains on the body due to faulty or inadequate work equipment.
Many knowledge workers suffer from musculoskeletal disorders caused by the lack of ergonomic desks and chairs in the home office.
According to a survey by the American Chiropractic Association, 92% of chiropractors said that patients report more neck pain, back pain and musculoskeletal issues since the stay-at-home guidance for COIVD-19 began.
This is not surprising if we draw reference to the recent study by Iometrics and Global Workplace Analytics. In the study, many employees report not having work equipment – only 41% of employees have an ergonomic chair and 46% have wide monitors at home.
Steps that you can take to address health and safety risks with remote work
As remote work looks set to become a permanent work strategy for companies, a solution is called for. And such solutions do not have to be expensive.
Our company Esevel was founded to help companies comply with their duty of care and boost their remote employees’ wellness and productivity.
We provide ergonomic furniture and equipment at flexible low subscriptions. Enterprise-grade desks and chairs are available for just $38 per month.
Damaged Equipment Work From Home Risk
A large part about enabling your employees to be productive when they work remotely, is about providing them with the right set of equipment and tools.
In the office, we have on hand equipment like laptops, monitor screens, printers, copiers, desks and chairs.
Employees need the same equipment to work effectively from home. People who work on spreadsheets would know that a second monitor screen can be invaluable to their productivity.
However, when companies provide these equipment to their employees, they become subject to the vagaries of household life. Active toddlers, curious cats and steaming mugs of coffee, you name it!
Problems arise when the equipment gets damaged at the employee’s home.
Who is responsible for the damage?
There is no simple answer to this. Whether or not your business insurance covers company equipment damaged outside office premises varies from policy to policy.
Therefore, it is important that you consult with your insurer to add coverage / policy for equipment used outside of your home, or better yet, add a specialized Work-From-Home policy to cover these work from home risks.
A Final Word
A good remote work policy should ensure that employees can carry out their jobs comfortably, safely and efficiently, wherever they work. People are your most important asset.
At Esevel, we help you take care of your team so that they can work better remotely.
Learn more and find out about how Esevel can help your business right here.