The COVID-19 pandemic impacted our personal and professional lives in many ways. With state-ordered social restrictions, many of us began working at home for the very first time. Some companies already had remote options available to their employees. However, the pandemic forced others into this position. In this post, we examine the benefits and risks of remote work, plus how to navigate this distinct situation.
The Permanency of Remote Work
While social distancing and stay-at-home orders were in effect, companies started sending workstations home with their employees to comply with the mandates. Many of us fell into the groove of remote work with ease as it became the “new norm.” Currently, much of America is free to return to the office — but not everyone is thrilled with this arrangement.
Some companies are antsy to bring their employees back into the office, while others have adopted a more hybrid or flexible work schedule. Google, Ford Motor Co., and Citigroup Inc. are among the many organizations who’ve promised greater flexibility — and for the long run.
Some employees reported that they’d quit their job if their employer failed to introduce a more flexible schedule. So, it’s safe to say that post-pandemic workplaces are likely to look much different than they did before. And, remote work is here to stay.
Benefits of Remote Work
No one can blame the individuals who’ve fully embraced remote work. One of the most immense rewards of remote work is not having to commute. A remote worker is only a room away from family members or pets instead of several miles. Of course, the money remote workers save on commuting costs is tremendous.
This arrangement works exceptionally well for many people, not to mention employers experience the benefits of remote work, too. Businesses open to remote workers enjoy a larger pool of talent. Plus, office space is expensive, so companies reap the financial benefits of remote work by not providing employees with a physical office area.
For management teams that assume everything will merely go back to pre-pandemic routines, think again. People recognize the benefits of remote work and are even willing to give up careers to pursue an at-home lifestyle. Companies must adapt or be willing to lose some of their best employees to remote work.
3 Unique Risks of Remote Work
While many employees and employers benefit from remote work, there are still a few vulnerabilities worth mentioning. The following are three significant risks remote employees face and companies must learn to navigate.
For years cybercrime has been on the rise; however, the pandemic-induced lockdowns only exacerbated the problem. With such astronomical figures — ransomware and extortion payments doubled the first half of 2020 — cybercrime could easily cause damages well in the trillions in the coming years. That said, the average number of cyberattacks and data breaches in 2021 increased by 15.1% from the previous year.
Unfortunately, remote work has opened a new window of opportunity for cybercriminals. And we only expect it to worsen. Think about working at a coffee shop or cafe for the day to change up your routine. Unsecured networks are a prime target for these online criminals. Or consider using your smartphone to send a work email while waiting in line at the grocery store.
These simple moments of vulnerability are only a glimpse of how remote work has forever changed cybersecurity concerns. Sadly, ransomware and phishing still top the list of most common cyberattacks. Since home offices can’t typically supply the same level of security as an in-office setup, companies must face the fact that hackers can (and will) try to disrupt their business operations.
2. Property Protection
Remote workers typically bring home the majority of their workstations: computer, monitor, printer, etc. Although employees keep it in their homes, it still belongs to the company. So naturally, this creates a more complicated situation in terms of protecting company property.
In the past, businesses traditionally kept office equipment and company property at the office. Some executives brought their laptops home, no doubt. But for the most part, work stuff stayed at work. Of course, remote work has changed all of that.
With company property peppered all over the nation (and sometimes, all over the world), management teams must make their policies crystal clear. For example, what are the rules regarding company equipment? How do employees file claims about lost or damaged equipment? What is the support system when it comes to company property? All these questions and more are vital to the longevity of companies adopting remote work.
3. Worker Health and Safety
Lastly, workers aren’t closely monitored under the same roof any longer. Perhaps they never were in the first place; however, the company building served as a type of safety umbrella, per se. As a result, workers’ compensation claims were potentially easier to determine. And employment practices claims were more straightforward.
Now, protecting your employees is slightly complicated and sometimes muddied up by confusion. Many believe that remote workers do whatever they want all day, squeezing in work when they feel inspired. Sure, this works out well for some positions. But what about workers committed to answering customer phone calls or handling the online chatbox?
Without clear guidelines, remote workers don’t always know what companies expect of them. As a result, some employees might slack on responsibilities while others will work beyond the necessary commitment. So, your expectations must be clear to remote workers to keep them safe and healthy.
How to Manage These New Risks
Remote work has introduced or increased new risks to companies nationwide. Since many employees want the hybrid or flexible work option, businesses are obligated to navigate these unknown risks. In our post, Understanding the 5 Steps of a Risk Management Process, we outline how to tackle any threat your industry or company might face.
Consider following the following guidelines when managing new remote work risks:
- Identify specific risks
- Analyze the risks
- Evaluate the risks
- Track the risks
- Treat the risks
Furthermore, we invite you to think outside of the box regarding risk management. For example, consider updating some of your longstanding procedures to accommodate your team of remote workers. Or better yet, talk with a trusted insurance professional with experience advising companies made up of remote teams.
Understanding the details of what coverage your company needs can be a confusing process. Founder Shield specializes in knowing the risks your industry faces to make sure you have adequate protection. Feel free to reach out to us, and we’ll walk you through the process of finding the right policy for you.
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